Don’t ignore these dashboard warning lights

Don’t ignore these dashboard warning lights

Dashboard warning lights

Is your car trying to tell you something? If you only pay attention to your speedometer while you’re behind the wheel, there’s a chance you may be missing out on some vital information.

Although all the various symbols and indicators that appear can be confusing to many, those lights aren’t there for show. Beyond your fuel gauge and odometer, your dashboard is constantly communicating with you, letting you know the status of your vehicle’s most important systems.

Unfortunately, many drivers simply never take the time to learn what all these communications mean. A recent survey found that more than half of all motorists were unable to identify even the most basic symbols on their vehicles’ dashboards.

This can lead to serious problems, because many of these indicators are intended as warnings to the driver. They could mean that a critical system needs servicing, certain fluids may need to be refilled or even that something inside the vehicle has failed and needs immediate attention.

Paying attention to these warning lights and understanding what they mean could be the difference between driving safely and putting yourself and your passengers at risk.

Understanding what dashboard warning lights could mean

Not everyone knows it, but the color of dashboard indicators has specific meanings. Any lights that are white, green or blue are there simply to provide information to the driver, such as when the turn signals are engaged. Lights that are orange, yellow or amber let you know that there is an issue, but immediate action is not needed.

An example of this may include a tire-pressure warning letting you know one or more of your tires may be running low on air. Red lights, on the other hand, indicate a serious issue that needs to be serviced as soon as possible.

Many dashboard lights are intended as reminders to have your car brought in for routine maintenance at your earliest convenience. However, there are others that you shouldn’t ignore because they could be warning you of serious problems. These include:

  • Check engine: This is a silhouette of an engine with a lightning bolt in the center, and it means there might be a serious issue with yours.
  • Low fuel: This light is in the form of a gas pump, letting you know that your vehicle’s fuel level has reached a critical point and you only have a few miles’ worth of gas left.
  • Coolant temperature: Appearing as a thermometer sitting in liquid, this tells you that your engine may be at risk of overheating.
  • Seatbelt warning: This light is in the shape of a seated stick figure with seatbelts crossing over it. It means there may be a passenger who has not buckled his or her seatbelt.
  • Brake system warning: This appears as a circle with an exclamation point inside of it, with curved lines on either side. It means your car has detected a problem with its braking system.

Your vehicle’s dashboard is how it communicates with you, letting you know if there are any potential problems that need to be addressed. To learn more about which dashboard warning lights you shouldn’t ignore, take a look at the accompanying resource.

Infographic provided by Goodwill Car Donations, learn more about car donation Maryland