Dashboard alerts: What do they mean?

Ever noticed a light come on the dashboard? Here are 5 of the most common alerts you could get on your travels.

Dec 31, 2018

Dashboard alerts: What do they mean?

You may have noticed that every time you switch on your vehicle all the dashboard lights flash on for a few seconds, this is normal, as the car is making sure all the lights work. However, if one symbol stays lit, or you see one flash up whilst you are driving this is your car warning you something is wrong.

There are generally 3 classes of warning lights which can be determined by colour; Red- if you see a red symbol this usually indicates a safety issue or problem, it can also indicate an important reminder or something that needs seeing to.

Yellow/ Orange- If you see a Yellow symbol, this means something needs to be repaired or your car needs servicing soon, so you should operate with caution.

Green/ Blue- If you see a green symbol this usually means a system is on/ is in operation, and the light is telling you what it is.

Red - If you see a flashing light this is a warning and is used to inform the driver of a state of urgency related to the system referenced by the light.

To get specific details about the dashboard lights in your car you should read through your owner’s manual.

These are 5 of the most common lights you could see come up on your dash:

Brake warning light

This could mean a couple of things; The handbrake is still on, the brake fluid is low or there is a problem with the Anti-lock braking system (ABS). when this comes up, make a quick check to see if the handbrake is still in the upright position if it is, just simply release the handbrake. If the handbrake is fine then check to see if your brake fluid is low, if it is and you have the equipment and knowledge on how to fill it, we recommend you do so but take it to a garage as there could be a leak, this goes for the ABS as well.

Oil warning light

The Oil light could come on for 1 of 2 reasons; The oil temperature is too high, or the oil pressure is too low. Oil helps lubricate the engine, if the temperature is too high then the effectiveness of the lubrication can buffer. If the pressure is too low the engine oil level and pressure should be checked immediately. Low oil level or low oil pressure will cause serious damage to the internally lubricated parts of the engine. So you should get it checked out by a mechanic ASAP.

Engine coolant light

If this comes up, proceed with caution as this means the engine is too hot or your coolant level is too low, which could cause a major problem and your vehicle might have a faulty coolant temperature sensor. You should turn your car off immediately and inspect your coolant system for damage and get it seen to ASAP.

Battery warning light

This is to indicate that the battery level is low and there might be a problem with your vehicles electric system, this could be a faulty alternator, faulty battery, a bad connection or damaged cabling somewhere in the engine bay. As your car moves, it charges the battery if this is not happening there could be a problem with the alternator, but if it's been a while since you have used your car, there is a chance that your battery might need charging, this is a simple task you can DIY, but if you are unsure how to do, make sure you consult a trained professional. At worst, the light could be on due to an alternator drive belt breaking. A lot of systems use this like the engine coolant pump, or power steering so it can impact the whole car.

Engine warning (ECU)

Usually when this light comes on you can tell immediately that something is wrong as its injunction with a lack of power, as the car has gone into ‘safe’ mode to protect itself. If it's stuttering as you accelerate this could be caused by a misfire or another fault which could alter the normal response from the engine. A fault electric sensor could be the problem however sometimes it could be worse which means you will have to take it to a mechanics ASAP. 

At Sandicliffe we have a range of New and Approved Used Cars that go through thorough checks to make sure when you drive away you won’t encounter any warning lights. However if you are concerned with any problems you may be having with your vehicle you can always book a car service with us, just visit our website, call us on 0115 9395000 or visit your local Sandicliffe Dealership where one of our technicians can book you in.


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