#DriveSafe: Car Warning Lights Explained

03rd Jul 2019

Unsure as to why a light on your dashboard is flashing? Discover the most common dashboard warning lights here.

It is worth noting that, although some dashboard warning lights are specific to certain car models, others can be recognised generally, therefore it is essential to refer to your vehicle's handbook for specific warning lights applicable to your car.

Engine Warning

The engine warning lights illuminates each time the ignition is switched on. If it continues to stay on whilst the engine is running, this could mean there is a malfunction with the engine management system. Although it could be a fault with the electrical sensor, there is a possibility the car has entered safe mode to protect itself due to the lack of power.

However, if the engine warning light flashes whilst you are driving, ensure you reduce your speed until the warning light is continually on and remain driving avoiding heavy acceleration until it is safe to stop and have it checked.

VW Engine Warning Light

Oil Pressure Warning

The oil pressure warning light should also come on each time the engine starts. If the engine light remains on, it is possible the oil level is low so ensure you turn off the engine, check the engine oil level and top up if needed.

Another possibility is that the oil temperate is too high or the pressure is too low, which could lead to engine damage due to oil lubricating the engine, thus the engine should not be started if the oil level is correct.

Oil Pressure Warning Light

Battery System Warning

Another light that should illuminate each time the engine is switched on is the battery charge warning light. If it does not illuminate when the engine is turned on or appears whilst driving, this could mean there is a fault with the charging system and the battery is not being charged.

It could also indicate a fault with the electrical system such as a faulty/loose alternator or alternator drive belt, slack battery, starter terminal, or a poor connection therefore increasing the chance of running out of electrical power.

Battery Warning Light

Brake System Warning

One of the most important features on your vehicle, the brake system warning remains on when the handbrake is engaged. However, if it is illuminated after the handbrake is released this means the brake fluid level could be low. In this case, you could refer to your vehicle handbook and correct the brake fluid to its maximum mark.

If the brake fluid is too low and the pedal travel is longer than usual, there is a possibility of failure of the hydraulic brake circuits. Additionally, the brake system warning light could also mean worn brake pads or a fault with the ABS anti-lock braking system.

Brake System Warning Light

Coolant Warning

The coolant in the car keeps your engine functioning correctly as low coolant could result in the engine overheating.

If the sign comes on, top up the coolant that is under the bonnet. If this does not solve the issue, your engine could be overheating due to a leak in the system or a head gasket failure so the vehicle should be checked.

Coolant Warning Light

ABS Warning

ABS, Anti-Lock Braking System, prevents your car wheels from locking up, automatically controlling brake pressure during an emergency stop.

The ABS warning illuminates once the ignition is switched on to confirm the system is operational. If it turns on whilst you are driving it could indicate a malfunction with the ABS system.

Normal braking without ABS is not as critical as the previous warning signs however your vehicle handbook should be referred to for advice.

ABS Warning Light

Tyre Pressure Monitor Warning

A tyre pressure monitor warning can indicate a puncture as the monitoring system detects if the pressure has decreased by 25% or more.

If this symbol appears, check your tyres for punctures or check the pressure in your tyres. The symbol is more likely during the colder months as the cooler temperatures lower the tyre pressures.

Tyre Pressure Warning Light

Airbag Warning

Also known as the Supplemental Restraint System, an airbag warning light indicates that either the airbag could deploy when unexpected.

Alternatively, it could indicate the airbag will not inflate during a crash, which could result in injury. Ensure you take your vehicle to get checked when this light is illuminated.

Airbag Warning Light

Diesel Particulate Filter

The diesel particulate filter removes harmful smoke from exhaust gasses to reduce emissions. If faulty, the DPF light will ignite resulting in toxic smoke being emitted every time you accelerate as well as damaging your engine in the process. The DPF needs to be emptied frequently to remain effective.

DPF Warning Light

Free Vehicle Health Check

If you have any mechanical concerns with your car including any warning lights, visit your local Evans Halshaw dealership for a free Vehicle Heath Check.

One of our trained technicians will carry out a comprehensive check of your vehicle covering engine components, tyres, brakes, the exterior, steering, electrics and suspension.

We'll even check the fluids and advise on any top-ups that might be required.

Each area will be given a rating of red, amber or green, indicating any actions needed and how urgent they are - giving you peace of mind.

It all means that next time you get a warning light, there's no need to panic.

Book Free Vehicle Health Check
Man Servicing Car