We all know what to do when our cars lets out an annoyed chime and a glowing human in a seat belt appears on our dash. Quickly we reach over our shoulder and buckle in. When the telltale gas pump appears we know to be on the lookout for the closest gas station. For many, however, having other lights illuminate on the dash can be panic inducing. Understanding what your dashboard light indicators mean before they are telling you about a problem can impact both your own and your car’s safety, as well as give you confidence to handle the situation appropriately.
Below are some of the infrequently seen, but important to notice warning lights and what to do when they appear:
Battery charge light— This light often accompanies a car that is refusing to turn on. It means that the car’s charging system is short of power or not charging properly, so get the battery or alternator checked.
Brake light — Still driving a manual? Well you might see this light more often. For everyone else this is a reminder that the parking brake has been set and is still in place. Simply release it before driving. If it’s lit continuously, check your brake fluid levels.
Check engine light—This means that the car’s diagnostic systems have detected a malfunction. You can continue to your destination safely, but make plans to take your car to a shop or professional for a diagnostic check up as soon as possible.
Engine temperature light—If you see a symbol of a thermometer placed in water light up, your engine may be overheating. This can result in engine damage, so pull over and turn off your vehicle. Call for roadside assistance.
Oil pressure light—Typically depicted as an oil can, this light means there’s a loss of oil pressure. Low oil pressure can be disastrous for a car, so stop driving as quickly and safely as possible. Have the oil level and pressure checked by someone with expertise.
These are some of the most common indicator lights on most cars and the first steps to dealing with them. Not all warning lights are universal, so it is best to familiarize yourself with your owner’s manual to understand what each light means for your vehicle. Always ensure to carry your charged cell phone in case you experience an incidents on the road.