Common dashboard warning lights | Ignore them at your own risk.

When dashboard warning lights appears, it means that the vehicle’s onboard computer detected a problem. Manufacturers usually include a computer system within their cars for the purpose of monitoring engine performance.

Some of the warnings might require immediate attention. In fact, when a warning light appears, the driver could be at a dilemma on whether to keep driving or to stop immediately.

However, some warnings may not be as urgent and you can keep driving till you get to a professional. For example the warning lights associated with a faulty sensor.

It is important to note that different car models and makes have different types of warning lights. In terms of their shapes and appearance.

Today we will look at a list of the warning lights that are common for all cars, trucks and busses.

1. Engine Temperature Warning Light.

In most vehicle dashboards, this warning appears as either green or red. The red color will warn you of extreme engine temperatures that will hinder normal operation.

Your engine needs to maintain a certain degree of temperature for normal operations. This is enabled by the engine cooling system components. For example, Air intake, fan and coolant fluid.

A problematic engine cooling system component causes the engine to overheat. Hence leading to the engine temperature dashboard warning light.

Additionally, it could also lead to the check engine light.

This kind of problem requires immediate attention in order to avoid any damage to the engine.

2. Oil Pressure Warning Light.

When this light shows up, the onboard computer has detected something is wrong with the amount of oil within your engine. Vehicle engine oil serves a number of functions that are inclusive of lubrication and cooling.

Remember that your engine is made up of moving parts that need to be lubricated.

Sometimes the engine isn’t pumping sufficient oil or the oil pressure isn’t enough to reach the required areas. During other occasions, different causes of oil leakage could lead to this oil pressure warning light.

This warning light allows you to stop and look at the oil levels within the engine. Further, inspect whether you can see a colored puddle under the car. Incase there is an oil leakage.

3. Battery Charge Warning Light.

Battery Dashboard warning lights

The vehicle’s battery is usually used to power the ignition process as well as other vehicle electric components. Remember that a dead battery is one of the reasons why the car won’t start.

While in the case of a dead, there will be nothing on the dashboard display. Meaning that this warning light appears especially when the vehicle is in motion.

In fact, you might require to purchase a new battery. But this depends on the reason behind the dead car battery.

You will find that the causes of this warning light are because of problems with the car electric system. For example, the electric fuses, wiring and alternator belt.

If the vehicle starts, the alternator belt will charge the battery as well as power the accessories and lights.

This dashboard warning light indicates that the battery is running low on power. That’s because the battery won’t be receiving power from it’s charging system.

Take this warning seriously because once you park the vehicle it may fail to start again. Hence you will have to jumpstart the dead car battery.

4. Brake Warning Light.

Break warning Lights

This dashboard warning light shows that there is an issue with the vehicle’s brake system. In fact, it could be originating from either of the brake system parts.

It is important that the driver stops driving immediately when this warning light appears on the dashboard. Some of the causes of this warning include;

  • Insufficient brake fluid.
  • Excessive reduction of the brake pad thickness. Hence causing the car brakes to start squeaking.
  • Hydraulic pressure once the brake pedal is pressed.

Either of these causes should get your attention immediately. Alternatively, there are causes of this warning light that do not need your attention. For example,

  • Over sensitive brake warning light.

5. Anti-Lock Brake System Warning Light.

The ABS ring may be broken hence causing an ABS warning light. This happens incase there is excessive corrosion within the sensor mounts.

This will cause the sensor to draw closer to the ABS ring hence giving a warning.

The Anti-Lock brake system was installed by manufacturers in consideration of the possibility of hitting emergency brakes.

So if this warning light shows up on the dashboard it’s an indication that your emergency brakes won’t function as they should.

In fact the ABS prevents your wheels from locking up when you hit the emergency brakes.

Further, if your vehicle has a stability control and traction control, these functions will not work properly. Because both of them depend on the wheel speed sensors. Same as the antilock system.

6. Reduced engine power dashboard warning light.

It is specially associated with a faulty throttle body or sensors. It means that there is a limited performance of your vehicle.

Once this warning light shows up, it indicates that the car’s computer has detected something that’s wrong with the engine. Therefore, it automatically reduces power to protect the engine.

Reduced engine power warning hinders acceleration and shifting to a higher gear. In fact, it may prevent fuel from going into the combustion chamber which will cause the car not to move.

7. Tire pressure warning light.

It appears to tell the driver that one or more tires have insufficient air pressure. The warning comes from the tire pressure sensor whose function is to monitor the pressure in your tires.

When the tire pressure monitoring sensor is faulty, it may cause this warning light to show up. Further, this warning light may show up when you change your tires. Further, tire bulges and any other damage to your tires will trigger this warning light.

8. Traction control / ESP warning light.

Electronic stability program monitors the vehicle’s stability by monitoring the rate at which tires spin in relation to each other. It works alongside the anti-lock brake system and the traction control system.

It communicates to the on board computer in order to regulate the amount of power that’s going to the wheels. This provides more stability to a car’s whose wheels are slipping.

In such occasions, the ESP warning light will appear to be blinking. This indicates that it’s functioning properly. A bad throttle body, brake pedal switch, or steering sensor can also trigger this warning light.

Further, faulty ABS speed sensor and ABS rings will give false information about the wheel speed measurement. Therefore, it will appear like there is wheel slippage.

9. Low washer fluid warning light.

Its an indication to the driver that the washer fluid is running low. Drivers should refill the washer fluid reservoir. Manufacturers install this warning light to ensure that there is a sufficient amount of washer fluid for cleaning the windshield, rear window and the headlights.

10. Power steering fluid level warning light.

This warning light shows up to alert the driver that the power steering fluid level is low. It’s an indication that the power steering system is receiving insufficient amounts of power steering fluid.

Therefore, the power steering system may fail at its functionality. Low power steering fluid levels cause an increase in vehicle steering efforts and because of decreased maneuverability.

Furthermore, it will lead to total loss of power steering assistance. Therefore, ensure that you don’t ignore this warning light.

11. Low fuel level warning light.

This warning light appears with a red or yellow color. Manufacturers install a fuel level measuring system that monitors the amount of fuel available in your tank.

When the color is yellow, it indicates that you have little oil for driving to the next filling station. However, when it’s red in color, you need to stop immediately and refill your fuel tank.

Otherwise, if you keep driving, you’re risking your engine as it might be damaged. However, if you have sufficient fuel yet the warning light is showing, the problem could be the originating from a faulty fuel level measurement system.

12. Blinking engine light.

This should capture your attention right away. Your next move should be to stop the car immediately and investigate the problem.

Because this blinking engine warning light is an indication that something is wrong is going on within your engine at that moment. Proper car engine maintenance will help you to avoid this warning light.

The problem could be that the engine is about to overheat. During such cases, this warning light will show up alongside the engine coolant temperature warning light. Furthermore, engine misfires will trigger this warning light.

13. Transmission temperature warning light.

It’s appearance is the shape of a round gear wheel with a thermometer at the center. This warning light is an indication that the transmission temperatures have rose to an extremely high level.

However, this warning light could be as a result of a faulty temperature measurement system. Car transmission maintenance can help with averting cases of overheating.

How do I fix my dashboard warning lights?

There are occasions when your dashboard lights may fail to work. Hence leaving you with no clue about what’s happening in your car.

Start with an inspection of the dashboard dimmer switch. Ensure that it’s not turned off. This could cause the dashboard lights not to light-up even after you start your car. 

Afterwards, investigate the fuse box to ensure that you don’t have a blown fuse. Additionally, look into the condition of the lightbulb.

If none of these are at faulty, you’re probably facing a faulty car electrical system issue. This could be in relation to wiring or car power source components like the battery.

a]. Investigate the dimmer switch.

The dimmer switch allows you to adjust the brightness of the dashboard lights. The dimmer switch has a knob that you can use to completely turn off the warning lights.

I]. Use the on setting of the car’s ignition.

You don’t have to start the engine, however, turn the ignition to the on setting. This will ensure that there is flow of power to the lights. Afterwards, turn on the headlights.

II]. Locate the dimmer switch.

Most cars have the dimmer switch on the center console or beside the steering wheel. Alternatively, the switch could be part of the headlights switch.

If you can’t find it on either of those locations, consult your owners manual to find it.

III]. Adjust the dimmer switch setting.

Turn the knob or dial to adjust its current setting or alternatively, flip the switch on if it was turned off. The lights should show up immediately.

However, if this doesn’t work, it means that there is a faulty lightbulb or blown fuse. Furthermore, it could be an indication that the entire dimmer switch is faulty.

b]. Fix the blown fuse.

Use the owner’s manual to find the location of your car’s fuse box. Because their location varies from one vehicle model to another.

Common locations are inclusive of under the hood, below the dashboard, or around the glove compartment. Open the fuse box and check the diagram on the interior side of the fuse box cover.

Locate a fuse whose label is dashboard lights. Pull it out and check whether something is wrong with it. If the fuse is blown it will have some blackening and a broken filament.

If nothing is wrong with its appearance, use a multimeter to check whether it works properly. However, if it seems blown, replace it with a similar on of the exact amperage.

c]. Replace the dashboard lightbulb.

Make sure that the car battery is disconnected before you start working on the lightbulb. Turn off the engine and remove the keys from the ignition. Next, disconnect the negative terminal then the positive terminal next.

Start removing each panel of the dashboard trim. Start with using a screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the dashboard panel trims in place. Then pull each one of them off.

Use a screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the instrument cluster faceplate. Next, lift off the instrument cluster faceplate to expose the dashboard gauges. Before this, disconnect all the controls cables and switches from the rear of the faceplate.

You will see some bulbs on the back of the instrument panel. Remove them and replace them with similar ones in relation to size and voltage rate.

Restore the instrument cluster faceplate and the dashboard panels. Afterwards, reconnect the positive battery terminal before the negative one.

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