Do You Know What Your Car is Telling You?

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As a vehicle owner, it is important to know what your vehicle is saying to you. Vehicles communicate via symbols, and not knowing what those symbols can cause some major problems for you. All of the symbols you need to know the status of your vehicle, can be found on its dashboard. Now, not all of the dashboard lights on your vehicle, will be identical to the dashboard lights on your best friend’s car. Some dashboard lights are specific to a certain manufacturer. All of the dashboard lights specific to your vehicle can be found in your owner’s manual.

Check Engine Light

Illuminates because of an issue in the computer or diagnostic system. The activation of the light issues a fault code. The code, says exactly what the problem is with the vehicle. Take your vehicle to a licensed mechanic as soon as possible, so that they can read the codes and fix the problem. The problem could be as minor as a loose cap, or as major as needing new spark plugs.

Battery Alert Light

Activates because of a loose wire, or because your battery is not holding a charge properly. If this light comes on while you are driving, immediately go to the nearest auto shop, to have them take a look at the functionality of your battery, and the terminals. Try not to turn your vehicle off, if possible, because it may not turn back on.

Coolant Temperature Warning Light

Comes on if your engine is overheating. It is usually the result of having low, or no coolant. Pull over immediately, turn your vehicle off allow it to cool. Once cool, add in more coolant if you notice it is indeed low. If there is ample coolant, check the radiator cap, and look for possible coolant leaks. If it is leaking, go to your nearest auto shop to have the leak repaired.

Transmission Temperature

Indicates that the transmission fluid is warmer than it is supposed to be. Be sure to check the coolant and transmission fluid levels, as a result of this light coming on. Be sure that you are using the correct transmission fluid for your vehicle.


Oil Pressure Warning

Turns on due to low oil pressure, resulting from a leak or the engine burning oil. This is a sign that you may need an oil change, or you need to get the oil pan fixed immediately. If the sign does not go off, have your vehicle towed to the nearest service facility.

Oil Change Reminder

Comes on as a reminder that an oil change is due. It can come on due to mileage accrued or the oil itself.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Activates as a sign that one or more tires have low air pressure, or there is a sensor malfunction. Add air to your tires as soon as you can. If you have added air, yet your tires are continuously flat, you probably have a hole in your tire. If that is the case, take your car to an auto shop, which works on tires, to have it patched, or replaced altogether.

Brake System Alert

Activates for several different reasons: the parking brake was engaged, brake fluid leak, or the hydraulic pressure has decreased. If your parking break is not engaged, head to your nearest auto shop as soon as possible, if possible. A loss in brake fluid is dangerous, and can cause your vehicle not to stop when you press on the brakes. If your car is not stopping, find the safest way to slow your vehicle down. Once it comes to a stop, call for it to be towed.

Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) Light

Indicates that your anti-lock brakes are malfunctioning. This malfunction can be caused by a loss of current or because the wheel sensor is filthy. In order to figure out exactly what the problem is, you have to go to an auto shop, and have a professional mechanic read the codes. Even though the ABS light is on, your regular brake should still be functioning properly.

Cruise Control

Illuminates when cruise control is set while you’re driving. Your car will not go over that set speed.

Reduced Power Warning

Triggers on when there is low/limited power coming from the engine computer. This will require a trip to the auto shop, to have the codes read, so that they can solve the problem.

Gas Cap Light

Indicates that your gas cap is not screwed on properly.

Security Alert

Lights to notify you that there may be a failure in the security system, or the ignition switch could be locked.

Door Ajar

Indicates that one of the doors, or the trunk is open. Close the open door and the light will go off.

Air Bag Light

Reveals that there is an issue with one of the airbags, which can impact how they would deploy in an accident. This is very dangerous. Take your vehicle to an auto shop to have it serviced as soon as possible.

Traction Control Light

Tells when the traction control has been engaged. It is the car’s way of stabilizing itself in slippery conditions.

Window Washer Fluid Reminder

Illuminates when the window washer fluid is low. Underneath you hood, there is a cylinder with a cap, with a symbol that resembles a windshield. Take the cap off, and pour in the wiper fluid. If you drive a car with two windshields, you may need to fill both of them up.

Fog Lamp

Indicates that the fog lamps have been turned on.

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