Car Dashboard Warning Lights

August 16, 2022
Posted by: Ramee M

With so many modern features in vehicles, understanding the purpose of all the warning lights on car dashboards can be a little complicated for beginners. Most of these check lights alert the driver about the car’s safety system or an underlying problem in the engine. That is why it is important to know what they indicate and pay heed to what these lights might be trying to tell you about various systems and components of your car.

The guide will cover some essential check lights, so you can take appropriate action accordingly.


It should be a priority to pay attention to the listed warning lights on car dashboards and get the vehicle diagnosed to prevent costly maintenance or future breakdowns. Here is an overview of different warning lights to keep an eye on.


The particular car dashboard warning light illuminates when you first start the engine and usually remains on for a few seconds to indicate it is working properly. If the warning light does not go away, it signals a problem associated with low coolant level in the radiator.

This could indicate a leakage that might require professional help. If this happens while on the road, keep your eyes on the temperature dial as you may need to pull over your car to check for coolant level. Be sure to wait out as the engine cools down before removing the radiator cap. Hot liquid shooting out from the radiator can be hazardous.

You can add water while you drive the car to the nearest workshop for a fix. Disregarding proper measures and repairs can cause engine overheating and additional damages.


The engine check light is not easy to decipher as it can indicate a multitude of problems with the car’s electronic system. The problem could be related to your car’s sensors that might have occurred during a routine maintenance check. In other cases, it could also mean a failing catalytic converter, broken mass airflow sensor, worn-out spark plugs or even an unscrewed gas cap.

Nonetheless, you will probably need a diagnostic scan to figure out the cause and get it fixed.


The battery check light usually indicates a malfunction or a problem related to charging. The light will illuminate when you start the engine to check if the charging system is working properly.

If the light remains on, it could mean a number of problems related to an ageing battery including corroded terminals, loose cable connection, damaged ground strap or even a worn-out alternator belt.

If the lights come on while you are on the road, head to the nearest workshop or your destination before the battery runs out. Just be sure not to shut down the engine during the run, as the starter requires a lot of charging and your vehicle might not turn on again.


The oil pressure light usually indicates high or low oil pressure in the engine. The warning will not come often and can easily be due to a faulty sensor. However, problems with lack of oil pressure should not be ignored as it can damage the engine severely.

The check light can come on due to various other reasons apart from low oil level including faulty oil sensor, wirings, clogged oil filter or broken oil pump. It could also be due to a leakage that may require a garage visit to patch up the defects.

It is a good practice to get your oil changed after regular intervals to avoid such problems.


The aforementioned check lights can turn on when your car safety features are compromised or malfunctioning, whereas others act as an indicator to warn you of an engaged function. These include:


The warning light is triggered by tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to indicate at least one or more tyres are underinflated. The cause of low tyre pressure needs to be checked for leakage of air due to punctures.

The warning system comes in handy as most tubeless tyres won’t go flat instantly and you can get them fixed before they give up entirely.


Vehicles with hydraulic power steering will likely trigger this warning light in case of low oil or fluid level. If the light remains on after refilling the power steering oil, the issue will require a professional inspection.

For vehicles with electric power steering, and EPS light will be triggered. Diagnosis of EPS is a bit difficult as the fault could be related to battery, cable connections or alternator. When the power steering warning is on, the steering will become difficult to handle. You can still continue on your journey but it is highly unsafe.


One of the common reasons why ABS light comes on is a faulty anti-lock braking system. ABS plays an integral role in preventing slipping of wheel and helps maintain stability and traction on the road. Although the warning light indicates a problem with ABS, your regular brakes should function fine.

The problem can be because of a bad ABS module with a faulty speed sensor, low brake fluid or broken connection between module and sensors.


Brake warning light normally comes on when the hand brake or parking brake is engaged. However, if the lights remain on, the problem could be due to low brake oil or faulty sensors including failure of the ABS system. Some high-end vehicles have sensors to even detect worn-out brake pads.


The hood open indicator has one purpose, to ensure your car’s hood is closed properly. The hood is usually supported by a secondary latch and people can forget to lock it after a secondary latch.

Although it is safe to drive, high-speed runs can cause airflow to pop open the hood and crash it onto the windshield.


Seat belt warning is usually accompanied by a beeping sound to ensure passengers fasten their seat belts. If the light remains on, there might be a problem with the seat buckle. The airbag SRS (supplemental restraint system) unit located beneath the seat could also be a culprit. Its connectors can loosen up over time or while moving the seat forward or backwards.


Airbag indicators can light up due to numerous reasons such as corroded sensors, depleted battery, faulty seat belt sensor or worn-out clock spring. Sometimes, the problem may require resetting the airbag after an accident and will need professional expertise.


Low fuel indicators will trigger when you have 40 to 60 km worth of fuel left in the car tank. Once the warning sign activates, you are better off finding the nearest fuel pump. How far you can drive once the fuel warning light comes on depends on the type of your car but it is not recommended to drive with low fuel as it can cause the fuel pump to overheat.


The door indicator serves to let you know if one or more doors of the car are open or not properly closed.


The use of high beams becomes essential when driving in low lit areas. However, one should be careful when using high beams on two-way roads or highways as it could blind the upcoming vehicle’s driver. The high beam indicator alerts the user when the beam is active. Improper usage of high beam, especially during bad weather conditions, could result in a traffic fine.

There are various other car warning lights that are available in the current generation of modern cars such as rear spoiler warning, PAP (parking with parking assist pilot), lane departure warning, forward collision warning or blind spot detector warning. Although some warning lights on car dashboards serve as just an indicator for an engaged system or a safety feature, most lights alert of an underlying problem. Sometimes you may require a vehicle scan to analyse the code and diagnose the problem.

Check out some modern used cars for sale with advanced warning light indicators:

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