Most cars are designed with countless computer modules, sensors, hoses, belts, electrical wires, and other components that work together to keep your vehicle running smoothly. You may not know it, but your vehicle constantly runs tests to ensure that all of these components are working properly. If your vehicle detects an issue during one of these tests, it will notify you by turning on the corresponding warning light in your dashboard.
All of your dashboard lights may briefly turn on when you start your vehicle, but they should quickly disappear. If a light stays on or turns on suddenly while you are driving, this means your vehicle has detected an issue.
There are more than a dozen different dashboard lights in most vehicles. Some of these dashboard lights are used to alert you of minor issues. For example, one dashboard light will turn on whenever your car door is open, which is a problem that you can quickly solve on your own.
However, many lights are used to notify you of more serious issues that need to be addressed by a mechanic. Don’t hesitate to contact a mechanic if you see any of these dashboard lights turn on:
The battery light, which is usually a red light in the shape of a car battery with plus and minus symbols, is also known as the battery charging alert. This light will turn on when an issue has been detected with the vehicle’s charging system. The battery light will automatically turn on whenever the battery’s voltage is below the normal level, which is 13.5 volts in most vehicles.
Even though the symbol looks like a car battery, this does not necessarily mean that the battery is the problem. An illuminated battery light could indicate that there is a problem with the battery cable terminals, battery plates, alternator, or voltage regulator.
For instance, the alternator is responsible for recharging the battery while your car is in motion. Your battery could quickly lose its charge if the alternator stops working while you are driving. Once the battery starts to lose its charge, this light may turn on in your dashboard.
If you see this light turn on while you are driving, your vehicle should continue to run while there is still a charge left in the battery. You can preserve your battery’s charge by turning off your stereo, air conditioner, and other electrical components in your vehicle. This will give you a better chance of making it home without losing power.
Once you turn off the vehicle, there is a chance it will not restart since the battery may not have enough charge to get your engine running.
The brake light is another dashboard light you should not ignore. This light is usually either a red or yellow exclamation mark in the middle of a circle, but in some vehicles, it is simply the word “BRAKE.”
Sometimes, this light turns on to let you know that your emergency parking brake is on. However, if your emergency parking brake is already off, the brake light could indicate a more serious issue.
The brake light could turn on when your vehicle’s brake fluid gets too low. Your vehicle’s braking system cannot function without brake fluid, so you should never operate a vehicle that is running low on this fluid.
An illuminated brake light could also indicate a problem with one of the components of the braking system. If your brake light turns on and you notice that your vehicle is pulling to one side when you press on the brakes, this could mean that one or more of your brakes needs to be replaced.
The light will not tell you what the exact problem is or which brake it is affecting, but a mechanic can diagnose the issue for you. Because brakes are so important for your safety, you should avoid driving your car if the brake light turns on.
Airbag Warning Light
The airbag warning light is typically a red light that features a passenger restrained by their seat belt with a large circle hovering above their lap. In some vehicles, it is a red light that simply features the text “SRS,” which stands for supplemental restraint system, or “AIRBAG.”
This light will automatically turn on whenever the vehicle detects an issue with its airbag system. This means that the airbags may not deploy properly in the event you are in an accident.
An illuminated airbag light could mean that there is an issue with one airbag or with the system as a whole. The light won’t provide any more information about the problem, which is why you should contact a mobile mechanic for help.
This light could also turn on when there is an issue with the seat belt pre-tensioner, which is responsible for quickly tightening your seat belt during a car accident to prevent your body from flying forward.
Both airbags and seat belts are crucial to your safety. If either of these safety features is not working properly, you could sustain serious injuries in a crash, even if it is a minor fender bender. For this reason, it’s not wise to drive your vehicle if the airbag warning light is on.
Coolant Warning Light
The coolant warning light is also known as the engine temperature warning light. It is typically a red light that looks like a thermometer with two wavy horizontal lines at the bottom.
Your car engine can get extremely hot. In fact, average combustion temperatures are nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can get as high as 4,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Engine components will start to break down or melt at these extreme temperatures. To prevent this problem, coolant, or antifreeze, circulates through the engine to absorb excess heat and protect your engine. If your vehicle is running low on coolant or there is a leak, the temperature in the engine will start to rise.
The coolant warning light will turn on whenever your engine’s temperature has exceeded its normal limit. It typically indicates that your coolant levels are low or there is a coolant leak. However, it could also indicate that there is an issue with your vehicle’s fan, radiator cap, or another component within the engine cooling system.
You should not drive your vehicle if the coolant warning light is on. If your engine is overheating, it could suffer extensive damage if you continue to operate your car. To protect your engine, pull over as soon as possible and turn off your vehicle.
Transmission Temperature Warning Light
The transmission is responsible for making sure that the appropriate amount of power is transferred to your wheels to keep your vehicle running at the right speed. Your vehicle cannot operate normally if your transmission isn’t functioning properly, and the most common cause of transmission problems is overheating.
The temperature in your transmission should hover around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature rises too high, the transmission temperature warning light will turn on in your dashboard to let you know your transmission is overheating. The transmission temperature warning light features a red or yellow thermometer or exclamation point in the center of a gear.
Your transmission may start to overheat for a number of reasons, including a low level of transmission fluid, transmission fluid leak, and dirty transmission fluid. It could also overheat as a result of worn-out components within the transmission or towing heavy loads for prolonged periods of time.
You should be able to safely make it to your final destination even if your transmission temperature warning light is on. However, this does not mean that you should ignore this light. If the transmission temperature warning light is on, contact a mechanic to diagnose the issue and make the necessary repairs right away.
Oil Pressure Warning Light
Engine oil plays an important role in keeping your engine running smoothly. It is responsible for lubricating the internal components of the engine, reducing friction, and keeping the engine clean by filtering out dirt and debris. If the oil is not circulating properly through your engine, the oil pressure warning light in your dashboard will turn on.
The oil pressure warning light features an old-fashioned oil can with oil dripping from its spout. Many people mistakenly assume that this light indicates that it is time for an oil change, but that’s not the case. If you need an oil change, the “MAINT REQD” light will likely turn on.
An illuminated oil pressure warning light indicates a sudden loss of oil pressure, which could occur as a result of a low oil level, broken oil pump, or faulty pressure sensor. A mechanic will need to thoroughly inspect your vehicle to determine the underlying cause of the issue.
You should not drive your vehicle if the oil pressure warning light is on. Driving without the proper level of oil or oil pressure could cause extensive engine damage. If you run out of oil while driving, your engine may suddenly stop, which can put you in danger. To avoid this problem, it’s recommended that you pull over and turn off your engine as soon as possible.
Check Engine Light
The check engine light is a yellow, orange, or red light that features the outline of an engine. It may or may not be accompanied by the text “CHECK” or “CHECK ENGINE.”
The check engine light can turn on for many different reasons, some of which are far more serious than others. For example, this light may turn on if your gas cap is loose, which is a minor issue that you can easily address.
However, an illuminated check engine light can also indicate a far more serious problem such as transmission problems, faulty oxygen sensors, computer malfunctions, and engine mechanical issues. If left unaddressed, these issues can negatively impact your vehicle’s performance.
You won’t be able to tell what the problem is simply by looking at the check engine light. However, every time your vehicle turns this light on, it also stores a corresponding diagnostic trouble code (DTC) in its computer system. A mechanic can connect a code reader device to your vehicle to obtain this code, which will help them determine the problem.
Because there’s no way of knowing how serious the issue is until your vehicle is thoroughly inspected, it’s best to avoid driving your vehicle until the issue has been diagnosed and repaired.
ABS Warning Light
The anti-lock braking system, or ABS, improves your ability to control your vehicle while engaging in heavy braking on slick surfaces. The system works by preventing the wheels on your vehicle from locking up while braking. If the wheels aren’t locked while braking, the vehicle could start to skid uncontrollably.
The ABS light is a red or yellow light with the text “ABS” inside a circle. If the ABS light turns on, this indicates that there is an issue with your ABS system. It could indicate a number of issues, including a malfunctioning wheel speed sensor or ABS controller.
Your vehicle will automatically deactivate the ABS system once an issue has been detected. You will still be able to use your brakes when the ABS system is deactivated, but it may be harder to stay in control of your vehicle if you need to engage in emergency braking.
Because the ABS system improves your ability to safely brake in emergency situations, you should avoid driving your vehicle if the ABS light has turned on. If both the ABS light and brake light turn on at the same time, this may indicate that there is a major problem with your vehicle, so you should pull over as soon as it is safe to do so.
How Can A Local Mobile Mechanic Help?
If you see any of these warning lights turn on, contact a local mobile mechanic right away. Our mobile mechanics will travel to your home or workplace to inspect your vehicle, diagnose the issue, and make the necessary repairs. Call 877-907-6484 or visit our website to schedule an appointment at a date and time that works best for you.