Why It’s Important to Understand Dashboard Lights
If you read this headline and immediately panicked because you’ve suddenly thought that there are lights on your dashboard that you don’t understand, don’t worry. You are not alone. Many drivers couldn’t confidently give the correct designations for all the lights on the dash, that’s the main reason we’re writing today’s blog, to help light the way for driver and passenger safety.
Why Is It Important to Understand the Different Dashboard Lights?
According to caranddriver.com, there are more than 100 different dashboard warning lights used by various car manufacturers. That’s not to say there are 100 in your own car, of course, because the number depends directly on the make and model of the car, and what additional features it has. The general rule of thumb tends to be that the more features your car has (especially ADAS) the more dashboard lights there will be.
The first reason you have to understand the lights is for safety. Most of the dashboard lights in your car are warning lights. When they flash up, it means that something serious might be wrong with the car. Did you know, for example, that when your “Check Engine” light comes on and is flashing, it means it’s no longer safe for you to drive the car and you should pull over or get to a garage immediately. It’s usually caused by misfires. Knowing this can be a matter of life and death.
Another reason to fully understand your dashboard lights is for maintenance. As we mentioned above, most of the lights are warning lights. Some indicate that immediate attention is required, and others indicate that attention is required soon. If you don’t know which are more important and which can wait, how will you know the best course of action when you see the lights?
In addition, knowing the lights is important when you’re summoning help. If you see a warning light that’s red and you pull over for safety and to call for roadside assistance, then knowing the lights is an important thing. When you call for assistance or a mobile mechanic, you can let them know on the phone which of your warning lights was lighting up. Based on that, they can have a pretty good idea of what is wrong with the car and help you get back on the road more efficiently.
Finally, you should know your dashboard lights so that you don’t get anxious. Many of the lights are nothing to be anxious about at all. Once again, however, the trouble is that people who don’t understand their lights see yellow and red lights and always assume the very worst. In the vast majority of cases, all you need do is find a time to take your car to the garage for a quick inspection. Sometimes warning lights actually come on because the system sensor is faulty, so in that case it’s nothing at all to worry about, but you have to know the signs.
What Are the Types of Warning Lights?
Broadly speaking, there are three types of warning lights that we can divide into colour codes: Green/Blue, Yellow/Orange, and Red.
- Green/Blue lights are notifications. These are usually on to tell you that you have activated a feature of your car. Perhaps the best known example is the dipped headlights (green) and the full beam lights (blue). When you see these on the dash, there’s nothing to worry about at all. All systems are green (literally).
- Yellow/Orange lights are low-grade warnings. These indicate problems that need to be dealt with soon, but usually are not critical or endangering to you in any way. They shouldn’t immediately impact the driving of your car, but if you are driving and one shows up, it’s a good idea at least to slow down and drive more carefully while you work out how to get to a garage, or take the shortest route home to take a look at the problem yourself.
- Red lights are severe warnings. These lights indicate that immediate action is required. A red light indicates that it is no longer safe for you to drive the car on the road regardless of circumstance. If you are out driving, the safest thing you can do is pull over and call for roadside assistance or a mobile mechanic to come take a look at the problem. If you have some knowledge of cars and their engines, you can take a look yourself.
- Indicators: These flash green on the dash (left or right) when you activate before a turn
- Fog lights: This green symbol will show up when your fog lights are switched on
- Dipped Headlights: Your dipped lights symbol is green
- Full Beam Headlights: The symbol for full beams is blue so you don’t confuse the two
- This symbol is used for cruise control.
- This green key and exclamation point is used to show that the keyless system key fob has been detected and you can start your car
- This one is for showing that you have parking assist active
- The common exclamation point in a triangle is usually there as an accompaniment to other lights as an attention getter
- The yellow/orange fuel pump means you’re almost out of petrol
- This one indicates that your tyre inflation in at least 1 tyre is down by a quarter or more
- “Check Engine” is a general warning meaning your engine needs the attention of a professional mechanic. A steady light means check ASAP, but a flashing light means there have been engine misfires and you need to get it checked now.
- This one indicates that one or more of your doors is still open
- This one indicates that the windscreen or rear-window defroster is enabled
- When you see this, top up your windscreen washer fluid reservoir
- This one shows your engine temperature is too high and you need to stop immediately
- This exclamation point in a red circle means that your brakes have a serious fault
- The red oil can means that oil pressure is low so you need to check oil levels
- Shows that someone (possibly the driver) is not wearing a seatbelt
- Shows that you have activated your hazard lights
- Your battery or alternator has a problem
- This one means your ignition switch is locked/immobilised, so you’ll need the key with a proper transmission to start the car
- This one shows an airbag fault, and it could be one or multiple airbags with the problem
What Are the Most Common Types of Dashboard Warning Lights?
As we mentioned, different cars will have different lights, but we can offer some insight with the most common warning lights below: