Understanding dashboard warning lights

Understanding dashboard warning lights

Updated on July 23 2024

Not a few professional-licensed drivers are actually knowledgeable or already familiar with all the dashboard warning lights. More so with newly-licensed ones – be them private or public utility vehicle drivers.

Hence the very premise of this Automart.Ph Quick Car tips – to give our drivers a better understanding of what those dashboard warning lights mean and what you should do when you find one symbol lighted in red – explained in layman’s terms for easy understanding and appreciation.

Most drivers may already have been familiar with the other dashboard indicators. These include the Low Fuel Indicator, Engine Warning Symbol, Battery Indicator, Seatbelt Reminder, and an Open Door Indicator. But this time around, let us discuss what is quite uncommon with you.

Engine Temperature Overheating Indicator:
When this pops up in Red color from Blue, it means your engine is going to overheat. This is crucial because it can cause damage to your engine. The three (3) most common reasons for such is that an auxiliary fan could stop working, your engine oil may have been critically low, or you may have forgotten to check and/or add some water to the radiator or on its reservoir.

What should you do then? Quickly find a safe parking place to pull over. While doing so, you should turn off your air conditioner and roll windows half-down to get some air. Once parked, don’t turn off your engine and just put your car in either neutral or park. Open the hood to let things cool down. After that, water in the radiator and fill up the reserve while you're at it.

A few pointers when refilling your radiator: be careful not to open it with bare hands. Use a wet piece of cloth and keep your face away from the radiator cover if you have enough water to refill it. This is better off done if you park in a service water area of a gasoline station. A consistent car maintenance check schedule avoids such breakdowns. Remember, regular maintenance is still cheaper than repairs.

Battery/Charging System Indicator:

It looks like a box with two heads and with a minus and a plus sign. When this is lit on your dashboard, it indicates that either the alternator or the battery charging system isn’t working properly, or the battery may be too low on water if you’re not using No Maintenance Battery.

Immediately turn off everything that gets power from it, such as the stereo, air conditioning system, the interior lights, among other accessories. Likewise, find safe parking first to save yourself from being towed if your engine won’t start anymore when you turn it off for a check. It’s a good thing there is already car battery delivery, but if there is a good mechanic around, you may ask him to check your alternator which sometimes, loosens from its fix making its fan belt unable to do its function.

Oil Pressure Indicator:

This symbol means your engine may be low on engine oil, or it could have been too sticky like sludge to be disseminated when the engine pumps it to properly lubricate the motor system parts that keep your car running.

This might also cause engine overheat that could be a sign of severe mechanical problems.  To avoid this, make sure you be keen on your calendar when it comes to changing the oil service schedule to keep your car engine running in good shape. If you ignore this, you better be ready for an expensive overhaul or a total engine replacement. Engines need oil, and running dry will cause pistons to lock, making your engine damaged beyond repair.

The Antilock Brake System Indicator or ABS:

When the ABS indicator lights up, it says something is wrong with your car’s anti-lock braking system. This needs to be checked and fixed as soon as possible. This isn't something that can be repaired at the side of the road since this part relies on sensors. ABS is designed to keep prevent your brakes from locking and prevent skidding into an obstacle.

Brake System Fault:

This means you’re driving with your parking brake on, or it could indicate an issue to your car’s brake system that could pose a potential system failure. So if you will up for a long drive and you see this indicator on during car check, better call for the expert immediately. Need we say better be safe than sorry?

Remember that every car differs from another. And so do the indicators in their respective dashboards. So whether you’re buying a brand new car or slightly used ones, it is always best to read the vehicle’s owner’s manual. Read it and be knowledgeable about your car’s maintenance requirements.

But what if your dashboard lights don't light up at all but the car fails to start? You'll have to play things by ear or by feel. Let's have an example. If your horn sounds weaker than usual, it could point to something wrong with the battery.

So, if you intend to get your first car from the pool of quality used car showrooms, checking it with Automart.PH is the wisest of all cost-efficient things to do? Why? Aside from the many Quality Cars we offer, we even educate you with dashboard things like this among other value-added services that will give you the best bang for your buck.