Whether it’s a door that’s not closed properly or that dreaded check-engine alert, those dashboard warning lights are how your car talks to you when something goes wrong.
They light up every time you start your vehicle, just giving you a quick check to make sure everything’s good to go. Sometimes, though, one light might decide to stick around, letting you know there’s a problem. And if one or more warning lights don’t even bother to show up, well, that’s a red flag right there. If they’re not doing their job, you won’t know if something’s up.
But if you don’t know what those warning lights mean, or if you choose to ignore them, a little problem can quickly turn into a big, wallet-draining, and maybe even dangerous situation. Even the smartest car owner can struggle to figure out what those lights are trying to say.
“They’re all so different and mysterious, it makes it easy for most people to ignore them,” But trust me, it’s important to know exactly what these warning lights mean, just in case you need to pull over and give a shout for help.
Types of Car dashboard warning lights
You know those funky little symbols that turn on your car dashboard, Well, they’re actually pretty helpful. They’re like your car’s way of saying, “Hey, pay attention, something’s up!” But don’t freak out just yet, not all of them mean trouble.
Some of those dashboard icons are all about your car’s functions, like lights and cruise control. Others are there to keep you safe, like blind spot monitoring and lane departure warnings. And then you’ve got the ones that signal mechanical issues, such as low tire pressure or engine temperature warnings.
Now, let’s talk about colors. Yeah, colors matter, even on your dashboard!
- Green or blue lights: If you see a green or blue light, it’s all good. It means the system is on and working just fine. Think high beams or cruise control. No need to stress, these lights are just giving you some info.
- Yellow or orange lights: When you spot an amber or orange light while cruising, it’s like a gentle nudge from your car saying, “Hey, I might need some TLC soon.” It’s a heads-up that your vehicle will need some service or repairs down the road. Don’t panic, these warnings aren’t as urgent as the next ones I’ll mention. For instance, it could be telling you that your engine coolant level is low or that something’s up with the engine.
- Red lights: Uh-oh, red lights mean business! If you see a red light flashing on your dashboard, pull over ASAP and figure out what’s going on. Ignoring a red dash light is a big no-no, my friend. It could lead to some hefty repairs or even accidents. Some red lights are all about safety, like reminding you to buckle up, while others scream mechanical trouble, like low engine oil pressure or a faulty braking system.
There are over 100 different dashboard symbols out there, and they can vary depending on your car make and model. If you’re ever unsure about what a particular warning light means, check out your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
And remember, each car is unique, so the symbols on your dashboard might not match exactly with the ones we’ve talked about here.
When in doubt, consult that trusty owner’s manual of yours! Oh, and don’t sweat it if some of these lights pop up momentarily when you start your ride. It’s just your car making sure everything’s in tip-top shape. But if the light stays on, that’s when you should pay attention because there might be a problem brewing.
Common Warning Lights on Your Car’s Dashboard
- Check Engine Light
- Battery Alert Light
- Engine Coolant Temperature Warning
- Transmission Temperature Warning Light
- Oil Pressure Warning Light
- Tire Pressure Warning Light
- Brake Warning Light
- Traction Control Warnings Light
- Airbag Warning Light
- Anti-lock Brake System Warning Light
- Low Fuel Indicator Light
- Automatic Shift Lock or Engine Start Indicator Light
- Security Indicator Light
- Washer Fluid Indicator Light
- Lane Departure Warning Light
#1. Check Engine Light
Let’s start with the worst. The check engine light is usually in the shape of a silhouetted engine, or sometimes it’s even harder to miss the capitalized “CHECK ENGINE” message, this is the one car owner who hates it the most.
It looks scary but this warning light has more than one possible meaning as it could be anything related to your car engine and exhaust system. The potential problem could be as small as a loose wire, a loose or damaged gas cap, or a faulty oxygen sensor. Or something much more serious and wrong with the engine itself.
If the check engine light comes on while driving and everything seems fine with the car, don’t panic, but don’t ignore it either. Take the vehicle to a mechanic to run a diagnostic test and fix the problem.
Since 1996, every new car and light truck sold in the United States has been required by law to be equipped with an On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system. This is a computer that monitors emissions levels and other main engine components.
It’s easier to find a problem with an OBD scan – something as simple as tightening the gas cap could solve the problem. It also prevents an emission-spitting vehicle from driving without the driver knowing there’s a problem lurking under the hood.
There are many reasons why the check engine light may come on. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Loose or damaged gas cap.
- Faulty oxygen sensor.
- Malfunctioning catalytic converter.
- Damaged spark plugs or ignition coil.
- Failing mass airflow sensor.
- Broken or damaged vacuum hose.
- Malfunctioning EGR valve.
- Faulty thermostat.
If the light comes on and the vehicle suddenly starts to erratic or makes strange noises, stop immediately and request towing service. This means that there is a far more serious problem, such as a misfire that could permanently damage the engine of the car. Ignoring a flashing check engine light could mean putting yourself at risk and ruining your car’s powertrain.
#2. Battery Alert Warning Light
The battery warning light on a car’s dashboard is designed to alert you to a problem with your vehicle’s battery or charging system. If your car battery light comes on when you start the car, you’re safe! It is perfectly normal for this light to come on when you first turn on your car. The light goes out after a few seconds.
If your low battery warning light comes on while driving, it means your battery is no longer being charged by the alternator and is only running on its own charge. This means your car will only run on battery power, which will eventually run out and bring your car to a standstill.
The first thing you should do is turn off any electrical systems in your car that you don’t need. That means turning off the stereo, air conditioning, heated seats, and anything else you charge in the car. If it’s safe to drive without your headlights and you can see clearly, turn them off as well to save power.
An illuminated battery light can be due to several issues, including:
- A loose or corroded battery cable
- A problem with the alternator or voltage regulator
- Damaged cells or plates in the battery
- Faulty wiring in the car’s electrical charging system
A battery light on the dash basically means there is a battery charging problem. Your car is not getting enough voltage from the car battery to function properly.
Don’t be fooled if the battery light comes on but the car starts and drives normally. There could be a long-term problem with the battery itself, or potential problems with the wiring, alternator, or other vehicle electrical components. You have to fix the problem as soon as possible by taking the car to a mechanic to diagnose and fix the problem.
#3. Engine Temperature Warning Light
The engine temperature warning light, which looks like a thermometer or simply the word “TEMP”, illuminates when your vehicle’s engine is running at a temperature that is too high – in other words, your engine is overheating.
If your vehicle’s cooling system is working properly, this should never occur. However, a problem with the cooling system or low coolant can cause the engine to overheat, which leads to engine damage. Since an overheated engine can cause major and often irreparable damage, you should act immediately.
Typically, this light gives you at least a brief warning of a serious problem. Watch the light closely for the next mile or two, and if the warning light does not go off by then, stop and turn the engine off.
In any case, it is best to call your local service center or roadside assistance for assistance.
#4. Transmission Temperature Warning Light
The transmission temperature warning light indicates that the internal pieces of your gearbox are reaching a critical point, which can lead to transmission failure. If the light comes on, you have to be cautious and avoid steep grades or stop-and-go traffic.
The ideal maximum transmission temperature is 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and for every 20 degrees above 200, the lifespan of the transmission is reduced by a factor of 2. This might be caused by excessively heavy towing, low transmission fluid levels, or, more seriously, excessive wear on the inner workings of the transmission.
The urgency of the situation can be determined by the color of the warning light, with red indicating a more urgent issue that requires immediate attention.
Continuing to drive with the transmission temperature warning light on can cause further damage to the transmission. It is recommended to have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic as soon as possible to diagnose and fix the issue.
#5. Oil Pressure Warning Light
Generally, an oil pressure warning light looks like a genie lamp or an old fashion oil can. This warning light indicates there is a problem with your engine oil, it could be low engine oil or low engine oil pressure in the system.
This light comes on the dashboard when the oil pressure in the engine is drop to a low level and it could be a serious issue. If the oil pressure warning light comes on, it is best to turn off the vehicle and not use it until the problem is fixed. Driving with low oil pressure can quickly destroy the engine.
It is recommended to allow the car to sit for at least 10 minutes before checking the oil level while parked on a semi-level surface.
If the engine’s dipstick shows oil levels are low and adding oil turns the light off, then you’re in luck. If that doesn’t do the trick, or the light comes on shortly after you’ve added oil, it’s smart to get the issue checked as soon as possible.
There are several possible scenarios when the oil pressure warning light illuminates. The most common reasons why the low oil pressure light turns on are a low oil level, a malfunctioning oil pump, or a major engine problem.
To prevent the oil pressure warning light from illuminating, it is recommended to ensure that the vehicle receives routine maintenance, including regularly scheduled oil changes.
#6. Tire Pressure Warning Light
The tire pressure warning light is an indicator that your tire pressure is too low or too high. The light is usually yellow or amber and resembles a cross-section of a tire with an exclamation point and/or the letters “TPMS”.
If the light comes on, it means your tires could be underinflated, which can lead to undue tire wear and possible tire failure. You should check your tire pressure and inflate or deflate your tires as needed to bring them within the recommended range.
However, most passenger cars will recommend 32 psi to 35 psi in the tires when they’re cold.
If the tire pressure is nominal and there are no leaks, but the TPMS warning light is still on, you could attempt driving for at least 10 minutes at a speed of 15 mph or more to reset the system. If the TPMS light flashes for a minute and then stays illuminated, it means something is wrong with your TPMS system.
#7. Brake Warning Light
The brake warning light on a car’s dashboard can indicate one of several things. The most common reasons for the brake warning light to turn on are that the parking brake is engaged, or the brake fluid level is low.
The brake warning light also turns on if the brake pads are getting too worn and need to be replaced soon. If the light goes off and on repeatedly or when turning, it can indicate this issue.
If the brake warning light comes on while driving, the first thing to do is to carefully pull over in a safe area and turn off the car.
The emergency brake should be checked first. You can not continue driving and ignore the brake light, as this can cause more damage to the braking system and be very dangerous.
The vehicle should be towed to a trusted mechanic for inspection. Since the brake warning light can mean various things, it’s best to have a brake expert look to confirm the real issue before other warning signs appear.
#8. Traction Control Malfunction Warning Light
The Traction Control Malfunction Light illuminates when there is an issue in the traction control system.
It indicates that there is an issue with the traction control system, which helps to keep the vehicle in control if one or more wheels lose traction while driving. The light may come on due to various reasons, including a defective ABS system, wheel speed sensors, or reductor ring.
While this won’t affect your everyday driving, you should get it checked soon to make sure your vehicle will operate safely in inclement conditions.
#9. Airbag Warning Light
The airbag light indicates that something is wrong with one of your airbags or the entire airbag system. This means that it’s probably not safe to drive with the airbag light on.
After all, if the airbags don’t deploy and you get into a crash on the way to get it fixed, you’ll be at much greater risk for injury or death. Diagnosing the cause isn’t always easy, so it’s best to let the experts handle it.
You should get your car checked out immediately! Your car’s airbags keep you safe during accidents, so make sure they are working properly.
#10. Anti-lock Brake System Warning Light
ABS stands for anti-lock braking system and when the ABS warning light comes on in your car’s instrument cluster, it means that the anti-lock braking system has been deactivated due to a malfunction.
Your car’s regular brakes should work fine, but the anti-lock brakes, which prevent the wheels from locking when you brake, don’t work. If your vehicle has stability control and traction control, these will also be disabled as these systems rely on the same wheel speed sensors as the anti-lock braking system.
The four most common reasons that usually cause this light to come on are a faulty ABS module, low levels in the fluid reservoir, faulty wheel speed sensors, or the system is off.
#11. Low Fuel Warning Light
An illuminated dashboard light in the shape of a fuel pump lets you know that your fuel tank is almost empty.
The low fuel warning light has one purpose: to let drivers know their fuel tanks are getting low. When the yellow gas pump symbol lights up, you need to drive to a gas station and fill up your fuel tank.
Your car’s drivability will not be affected, and you can still drive safely. Just don’t plan on driving too long – you don’t want to find yourself out of fuel and stranded.
If your light stays on even when the fuel tank is full, your fuel level sensor may need service. Try higher-quality fuel. Lower grades have more contaminants or may contain traces of water that can damage your sensor.
If you’re still having trouble, it would be a good idea to take your car to a mechanic.
#12. Automatic Shift Lock or Engine Start Indicator Light
The automatic shift lock light is an indicator of your car’s shift lock release in automatic transmissions. This light is also known as the engine start indicator warning light. It has two purposes: It indicates that you need to apply the brake to start the vehicle’s ignition or shift out of neutral.
For your safety, the automatic transmission has a shift lock system that prevents the transmission from being shifted from P (Park) to R (Reverse) when the brake pedal is not depressed. To shift the transmission from P (Park) to R (Reverse): Press and hold the brake pedal.
So, press the brake pedal, then change gears or start the ignition, whatever you want to do.
#13. Security Indicator Light
The security indicator light illuminates when the key is out from the ignition switch. This means that the immobilizer is active. This prevents the engine from starting if someone tries to steal your car.
Some cars also have an alarm system. When you put a key in the ignition, the key’s chip is checked. If it matches the security system code, the security light will turn off and the immobilizer will be disabled.
If it keeps flashing, something is wrong with the key or the security system. When the vehicle is stationary, follow your vehicle’s instructions for disabling the security system. If it’s a malfunction, your security system won’t work properly until you have it repaired.
#14. Washer Fluid Indicator Light
The washer fluid indicator light is a dashboard warning light that lets the driver know that the windshield washer fluid is low and needs to be refilled soon. This light is usually yellow and has a windshield icon on the car’s dashboard. you have to keep fluid in the reservoir to prevent it from drying out.
Open the hood of your car and locate the windshield washer fluid reservoir. The reservoir is usually a white plastic container filled with a blue liquid (each brand’s shade of blue may vary).
If you notice that the windshield washer fluid reservoir is low or empty, refill it with windshield washer fluid, which is readily available at almost any gas station or auto repair shop.
After completing this step, close the windshield washer fluid reservoir along with the hood of your car and start washing your windows with the handle. You should have already noticed the washer fluid symbol deactivate.
#15. Lane Departure Warning Light
The Lane Departure Warning Light is a safety feature in vehicles that alerts the driver when the vehicle is detected to be moving out of its current lane without signaling. The warning is usually a flashing indicator and/or a beeping sound from the corresponding side.
Some systems may also vibrate the steering wheel or driver’s seat gently. The light may be steady black and white if the lane-keeping system is not ready, or green if the system is ready, and may gently turn the steering wheel if the vehicle drifts out of its lane.
The system detects the lane markers using cameras or sensors and alerts the driver when the tire touches the lane marker.
Car Dashboard safety symbols
Dashboard safety symbols are indicators that appear on a car’s dashboard to warn drivers of potential problems or safety issues. These symbols can include warning lights for low fuel, low oil pressure, tire pressure, and engine problems.
Red symbols typically indicate a serious problem that requires immediate attention, while yellow or orange symbols may indicate a less urgent issue that should still be addressed. As drivers, you have to familiarize yourself with these symbols and their meanings to ensure your safety on the road.
#16. Power Steering Warning Light
The power steering warning light is a red or yellow steering wheel often accompanied by an exclamation mark on the car’s dashboard. The light warns the driver that the power steering system has failed and needs to investigate the cause. The cause may vary depending on the type of power steering system in the car.
In hydraulic power steering systems, a leak in the system causing a low fluid level is the most common cause for the power steering warning light to come on.
In electric power steering systems, the EPS warning sign on the dashboard might be more complicated to diagnose since the system doesn’t have any fluids leaking. The problem will most likely be in the battery or the alternator. It is advisable to open the hood and check the battery or alternator if the car has an electric power steering system.
If the power steering warning light comes on, it is best to pull over once it is safe and investigate. Continuing to drive with a failed power steering system can cause safety risks and make the car difficult to steer.
#17. Seat Belt Warning Light
The seat belt warning light is an indicator that shows whether a passenger is wearing their seat belt properly or not. The light should go out once the seat belts are securely fastened.
If the seat belt warning light stays on, the first thing to consider is whether the seat belt is fastened. Automobiles have a seat belt sensor located in the seat belt buckle of both the driver’s seat and the front passenger seat.
It also has an occupancy or weight sensor to determine if you have a passenger in the car. If the light stays on even if the seat belt is fastened, it may indicate a problem with the seat belt switch or a connector that sends a signal to the car.
In this case, common solutions include cleaning out the seat belt buckle or purchasing some electric contact cleaner and spraying it into the seat belt buckle. If these solutions do not work, seeking assistance from a mechanic may be necessary.
#18. Parking Brake Warning Light
The parking brake warning light is a dashboard warning light that illuminates to indicate that the parking brake or emergency brake is set and must be released before driving. Depending on the vehicle brand, it can be either red or orange.
If the light stays on after the parking brake is released, or goes on and off intermittently while driving, it means the brake fluid needs to be checked and topped up if necessary. But if the light still does not go out after adding brake fluid, the brake system needs to be checked by a professional.
If you see an illuminated wrench under the parking brake warning light, the parking brake needs service. you can’t operate the vehicle while the parking brake is on as this can seriously damage the vehicle.
If the brake warning light is on, it’s best to have a brake professional take a look to confirm the actual problem before other warning signs appear.
#19. Master Warning Light/General Warning Light
The Master Warning Light is a light that notifies you about a problem in one or more of the vehicle’s advanced systems. A detailed system message appears right after it in the car information display, and it is often accompanied by other warning lights.
The vehicle’s make and model will determine what the master warning light signifies and what could have caused it to come on.
#20. Side Air Bag Off warning light
The Side Air Bag Off warning light is located on the instrument panel. When the light illuminates, the passenger-side airbag is temporarily deactivated.
The passenger side airbag turns off when the front passenger seat is not occupied, or when the passenger is not sitting in a safe position.
#21. Reduced Power Warning Light
The Reduced Power Warning light shows that something has reduced the flow of fuel and/or air to the engine. It often turns on when a car needs maintenance or repair and doesn’t mean your vehicle is about to break down, but it could be a good time for an oil change.
When the light comes on, your vehicle’s engine is not producing as much power as it should. The Reduced Engine Power warning light is activated by your vehicle’s computer system when it detects a failure in one of the vehicle’s components.
The reduced engine power mode is often called “limp mode.” When your vehicle enters reduced engine power mode, the engine’s performance is inhibited.
#22. Traction Control Warnings Light
When the traction control light flashes or remains on, it means your tires are losing contact with the road. Wet, icy, or dirty road conditions may cause a vehicle to lose traction, activating the traction control system to stabilize the vehicle and illuminating the traction control light as a warning.
The traction control systems detect when the wheels are about to lose traction. When the system detects this, it intervenes by reducing engine power to the wheel.
This helps the car to maintain traction and stay on the road. If you see a TCS light on your dashboard, it means there is an issue with the traction control system.
#23. Traction Control Off Warning Light
This dashboard symbol Indicates that your vehicle’s TCS (traction control system) has been deactivated.
#24. Steering Wheel Lock Warning Light
An indicator light means your steering wheel is locked and cannot be moved. The steering lock indicator light is different from the power steering warning light, which indicates a real steering problem, so don’t confuse them.
To disengage the steering lock, insert the key into the ignition and turn it to at least the first position while turning the steering wheel in either direction. It shouldn’t take too much force to move the key to turn and unlock the steering wheel.
The steering lock warning light should only come on when the ignition is switched off and the lock is engaged. If you see it lit at any other time, have the car checked by a qualified mechanic.
#25. Trailer Tow Hitch Warning
Typically, the trailer tow hitch warning light can come on for a few different reasons. Depending on the kind of car, this light could indicate that the tow hitch is unlocked or that there’s an issue with the lighting system.
Some vehicles may also have an indicator to show that there is an additional load on the lighting circuit.
#26. Service Vehicle Soon Warning Light
If you see that Service Vehicle warning light pop up, it’s a good idea to get your ride checked out by a skilled mechanic. That light is trying to tell you that something might be up with your engine, transmission, fuel, ignition, emissions, or other fancy computer systems in your car.
Listen, you don’t want to ignore this warning light, especially if it could mean there’s a problem with important safety stuff like your brakes and lights. Now, if the light is amber, you might be able to keep cruising for a bit, but it’s still smart to get your wheels looked at as soon as you can.
#27. Press Clutch Pedal Warning Light
The Press Clutch Pedal warning light is a yellow light and just a shoe with a circle around it, that appears on the dashboard of vehicles that have a manual transmission. It is a reminder to press the clutch pedal before starting the engine. Once the clutch pedal is depressed, the light should go off and you can begin driving.
Bonus Tip: This light is different from the brake pedal warning light(green in color), which indicates that the brake pedal needs to be pressed and held while the gear lever is moved out of the park.
#28. Powertrain Fault
The wrench warning light on Ford vehicles is the powertrain malfunction indicator. If it lights up, it means the computer has detected a problem with your vehicle’s powertrain or All-wheel drive(AWD).
A powertrain malfunction light should be taken seriously, as the persistence of a serious problem can lead to costly repairs to your engine, transmission, or powertrain in the long run.
Consider having the vehicle towed directly to an authorized dealer rather than driving yourself if you notice any changes in your vehicle’s performance, such as Engine shaking or reduced performance.
#29. A/T P Warning Light
The A/T P warning light is an A/T Park (P) Indicator Warning symbol. This light comes on when a vehicle’s 4-wheel drive shifter is in neutral (N). Drive gear cannot be engaged until either the 4 Low or the 4 High option is chosen.
Can also indicate a fault with the park gear in the automatic transmission. Seek assistance/diagnosis, and ensure hand/parking brake is applied securely in case of faulty park gear.
#30. Overdrive Light
Overdrive (O/D) is an additional gear (usually the highest gear) in the transmission system. It allows your car to travel at high speeds with reduced engine RPMs, resulting in better fuel efficiency and reduced engine wear.
The O/D OFF light on in the dashboard indicates the overdrive has been disengaged. In most situations, you or someone did it manually by pressing the O/D button on the gear shift. When this happens, the car will no longer be able to shift into its highest gear ratio and will instead remain in a lower gear.
When O/D OFF Light is off, the over-drive function is engaged, and you can freely switch between any gear.
However, if the O/D OFF light flashes or blinks, it indicates a problem with the transmission system.
#31. Oil Change Reminder
The Oil Change Reminder warning light indicates that oil life has expired and it is time for an oil change.
The reminder of maintenance is pretty self-explanatory but it is always best to make an appointment with an authorized service center where they will not only take care of the oil change but also reset your reminder light.
#32. Information Warning Light
The indicator light will turn on when a new message is stored in the information display. It will be red or amber in color depending on the severity of the message and will remain on until the cause of the message has been rectified.
#33. Icy Road Warning Light
An icy road warning light is symbolized as a snowflake with the road lane markers on your car’s dashboard.
It warns the driver that the temperature outside air starts to reach freezing temperatures, around 35°F or 3°C and there is a possibility of an icy road ahead.
So, the driver must take preventive measures and slow down the vehicle.
#34. Gas/Fuel Cap
If your fuel cap light is on, it means that the computer has detected a leak in the system, typically from a loose gas cap. If this light comes on while driving, pull over in a safe spot and re-secure the cap.
The light should go out within a day or two. If the light persists, it may be best to have the fuel filler neck or gas cap itself checked by a certified technician. The warning light can also indicate that the fuel cap is damaged, missing, or improperly installed.
#35. Electronic Stability Program (ESP) Warning Light
The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) warning light indicates there is a problem with your electronic stability program system or you are driving on a slippery surface. This light may come on when driving over a slippery surface or when the car loses traction.
If the warning light is flashing, it means that the ESP traction control is working to stabilize the vehicle.
If the light stays on or flashes on and off, it may indicate a problem with the system, such as a malfunctioning steering angle sensor or brake pedal switch.
#36. Electric Park Brake Warning Light
The electric parking brake or the EPB is an advanced version of a conventional parking brake or handbrake. Sometimes, people also refer to this system as an ‘Electronic Parking Brake.’ Technically, this system is a sub-part of the more advanced ‘Brake by Wire’ system.
The Electric Park Brake warning light is actually both an Electric Park Brake on Indicator as well as a Fault Indicator. If the light is seen when the brake is engaged and the ignition is on, it may indicate a fault. In most cases, if the light goes off, the system is working properly.
If it continues to flash or remains on while driving, there could be a problem with your electric parking brake. Have your vehicle checked as soon as possible.
#37. Distance Warning
The distance warning light turns on when your car is about to collide with another car or obstruct an object. When this light comes on, it indicates that the computer has detected an object on the road ahead that is rapidly approaching in the direction of travel.
This doesn’t always have to be a car and could be a large object on the road. Look for anything on the ground when there are no cars in front of you
#38. Clogged Air Filter light
The Clogged Air Filter Warning Light only has one function, to warn the driver of reduced airflow into the engine. If this light comes on, you should have the air filter replaced or at least inspected.
Once the filter is replaced, you may need to turn the warning light off using a reset button. A clogged air filter can cause engine misfires, rough idling, and hard starts. Refer to the owner’s manual of your car or perform an online search to find the location of the button.
#39. Child Safety Lock Warning
The child safety lock warning light on the dashboard indicates that the child safety locks are active.
When the child safety locks are active, the rear doors cannot be opened from inside the car, which is intended to prevent children from accidentally opening the doors while driving the car.
To turn off the child safety lock warning light, you need to turn off the child safety locks.
#40. Catalytic Converter Warning Light
The catalytic converter warning light is designed to warn the driver that the catalytic converter is either overheating or not working as intended. The interior of the catalytic converter consists of a honeycomb design that increases the contact area with the air.
Over time, the metal can deteriorate and clog the holes, leading to overheating issues caused by restricted airflow.
If the catalytic converter is not working properly, it can cause the check engine light to come on. It is generally not recommended to drive with the check engine light on, especially with a bad DPF and catalytic converter.
#41. Low Brake Fluid Warning Light
This warning light means that the brake fluid level in your car is low. This could be possible if you have a leak in the braking system or worn brake pads. If the warning light comes on, you must stop in a safe place and check the brake fluid level. If it is low, you can top it up with the correct brake fluid.
However, before adding new brake fluid, check the old one to see if it is discolored or dirty. You may need to rinse them. If the warning light is still on after adding brake fluid, you need to have your brake system checked for other problems by a professional.
#42. Brake Pads Warning Light
This warning light means that the brake pads are worn and should be replaced soon. It can also come on when the sensor in the master cylinder detects an insufficient level of brake fluid.
The light is usually indicated as a circle in dotted brackets. If the light comes on, have the brake pads checked and replaced if necessary to ensure proper braking and safety while driving.
#43. Brake Lights Warning
This dashboard warning light will appear when your brake light bulbs are defective or blown.
You should first check your brake light bulbs to see if they are working properly. If the brake light bulbs not working, you should change them with a new one.
Or the problem could be a blown fuse, so you should also check the fuse for the brake lights. If the fuse is blown or damaged, it may result in a lamp failure warning. If replacing the bulb or fuse doesn’t fix the problem, the problem could be a bad brake light switch. Now, you should take your car to a mechanic to have it checked and repaired.
#44. Automatic Transmission Warning Light
The automatic transmission warning light means that there is a problem with your transmission, this could be caused by many reasons like overheating, low fluid, internal transmission failure, or shift interlock issues.
If the warning light comes on, then the first step is finding a safe place and pull over to avoid any further damage.
One’s vehicle is parked, check the transmission fluid and conditions, and also scan your car computer for any code to determine the causes of the issue.
If the transmission fluid is low, then tack to the mechanic and top up at the right level. If the issue is more serious then tow your car to the mechanic to diagnose the problem.
#45. Differential Lock Warning Light
The Differential Lock Warning Light means there’s a problem with the differential lock system. In the Toyota Hilux, the rear differential lock warning light flashes quickly to show a malfunction in the rear differential lock system.
This system helps prevent wheel spin on slippery or muddy surfaces. If you see this warning light, it’s best to have a mechanic check your vehicle.
#46. Adaptive Suspension Dampers Light
If the Adaptive Suspension Dampers warning light turns on, it means that the vehicle needs to be taken to a qualified repairer. The vehicle might default to a standard suspension setting if the warning light shows that the suspension system isn’t functioning properly.
A blown shock, leakage, or other problem could be the source of the warning light. Checking the lower ball joints, drop links, and track control arms as well as each shock for leakage is advised. The problem might also be resolved by calibrating the suspension system.
#47. 4 Wheel Drive (4WD) LOCK Warning Light
The 4 Wheel Drive(4WD) lock warning light turn-on means that your 4WD mode is activated. Press the button to turn off the 4WD lock. It is recommended to call the nearest dealer to have the vehicle checked if the light does not go out after pressing the button.
However, if the 4WD light is flashing, there may be a system problem or an overheated transfer case.
#48. 4WD Gear Mode Warning light (4LO/4HI)
Which gear mode your 4WD car is in is indicated by the warning light( 4LO/ 4HI).
4LO means that your car is sending torque to all four wheels, but in the low range, When you need more power to pull heavy loads at slower speeds or climb steep hills.
In 4HI Mode your front and rear differentials lock together, producing the best traction possible for traveling a variety of terrains.
Each 4WD setting has its own uses and benefits, and it controls which car tires and components are receiving the most power. There is a problem with your drivetrain system if the 4WD light flashes nonstop for longer than 30 seconds, and it hasn’t engaged properly.
#49. 4×2 or 4×4 Warning Light on
This warning light simply means that your car is working in that particular mode.
- 4×2: Indicates that a 4WD capable vehicle is in 4×2 mode (2WD).
- 4WD: Indicates the vehicle is in 4WD mode.
However, if the light remains illuminated, it is recommended to contact your dealer or authorized service center immediately.
#50. Air Suspension Warning Light
If you see that Air Suspension Warning Light pop up, it’s a sign that something’s up with your air suspension system. It’s usually because there’s a leak or some problem with how it’s inflated. Basically, if your car’s computer detects anything funky going on, it’ll trigger that warning light.
Chances are, one of the airbags might have sprung a leak, or maybe the compressor isn’t pumping out enough air as it should. If you spot that warning light, it’s a good idea to take your ride to a trustworthy repair shop and have them give it a once-over. They’ll be able to figure out what’s going on and get your suspension back in tip-top shape.
Lighting Symbols (Dashboard Warning Lights)
Vehicle Lights indicators are linked to your car’s lighting system. These dashboard warning lights are usually blue, green, or yellow in color.
#51. Low Beam Indicator Light
If the low beam indicator light is on, it means that the vehicle’s dipped beam is on. The low beam should be used for city driving where the road is well-lit by streetlights because it is a low-intensity, dipped, asymmetrical setting on the car’s headlamps.
A blown-out bulb may be the cause of the low beam’s inability to function, but it can be fixed by buying a replacement bulb that is the same year, brand, and model as the vehicle.
#52. High Beam Light Indicator
The high beam light indicator means that your car’s high beam headlights are on or that the high beam flash function is used.
The high beam indicator is blue and has five parallel lines that are beaming in front of a capital “D”- shape that looks like a headlight.
#53. Lamp Out Warning Light
A dashboard warning light known as the lamp out warns the driver if any of the car’s lights are out. A false positive or a system malfunction may result in the light remaining on even when all the lights are off.
For a variety of reasons, the lamp’s warning light may turn on. A problem with one of the headlights, taillight, or turn signals is among the most typical causes. A problem with the daytime running lights might be another factor. This warning light may also turn on if the bulb is burned out.
#54. Headlight Range Control
When you see that headlight range control warning light turn on, it means something’s up with your headlight range control system. Basically, there’s a problem that’s been detected, and until you get it fixed and clear the code with a scan tool, the range control won’t be working.
The headlight range control system is a cool safety feature. It’s all about safety and making sure you don’t blind anyone with your lights. Nobody wants to be caught off guard by a super bright light, right? So, this system helps avoid that by automatically adjusting the range of your headlights.
If you spot an amber headlight range control light, it’s a sign that you need to take some action. There’s probably a faulty component causing the issue, like that J519 central electrical controller.
It’s technically safe to keep driving with that warning light on, but it is recommended to take the car to a mechanic for proper diagnosis and repair.
#55. Front Fog Lights
The Front Fog Lights warning light is a green indicator that appears on the dashboard when the front fog lights are turned on. The symbol for front fog lights is a lamp pointing to the left with lines pointing diagonally down through the vertical wavy line.
Make sure to use front fog lights only in foggy conditions and not in rain or drizzle.
#56. Exterior Light Fault
If you see that Exterior Light Fault warning light in your car, it’s like a sign that something’s up with one or more of your outside lights. It’s like your car’s computer is all smart and can detect when the voltage in any of the bulb circuits isn’t normal.
So, if you spot a light bulb with an exclamation point icon lit up, it means one of your exterior bulbs has burnt out. Sometimes that warning light shows up even when all your lights are working just fine.
To make that annoying warning light go away, you got to replace the bulb that’s causing the trouble. Some car owners have mentioned having the warning light turn on randomly, but you might get lucky and fix it by simply re-seating the lights.
#57. Auto High Beam light
This warning light means the Auto High Beam system has switched on high beam headlights. It may also indicate a malfunction in the automatic headlight dimmer system.
The Automatic High Beam Control system turns on high beams if it is dark enough and no other traffic is present. If it detects an approaching vehicle’s headlamps or tail lamps, or streetlights, it will switch to low beams.
#58. Adaptive Light System
This warning light simply means that your Adaptive Light System is activated.
If you see the Adaptive Light System warning light flashing in your ride, it’s a sign that something isn’t right with your automatic headlights. That light can come on for a few reasons, like if there is dirt messing things up, a glitch in the system, or even water damage. So, keep an eye out for a yellow or amber light because that means you need to act.
The specific meaning of that warning light can vary depending on what kind of adaptive lighting your car has. It could be about headlights that turn on all by themselves or those cool ones that can move around to light up curves and corners. Either way, if this light turns on, it’s best to get your car checked by a technician.
#59. Side Light Indicator
This warning light will turn on when the normal headlights are in use. Usually, when your side lights are on, the rear taillights and license plate lights will also turn on.
#60. Rear Fog Lights Switched On
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the rear fog lights are turned on.
#61. Rain and Light Sensor
The rain and light sensor warning light comes on, which means there’s a little issue with the sensor. You know, the thing that’s supposed to automatically switch your headlights and windshield wipers on and off.
But don’t worry, you can still work those headlights and wipers manually. You just remember to flick the switches yourself.
If you want to steer clear of car troubles down the road, make sure you’re not just keeping an eye on those fancy warning lights but also the regular lights in your vehicle, they’re important too.
#62. Windshield Defrost
The Windshield Defrost warning light is there to tell you that the defroster is on and doing its job. Simple, right? But if you’re driving along, and you see that warning light flashing, that means something isn’t right according to the system and it’s trying to tell you there’s an issue.
#63. Rear Window Defrost
When you turn on the rear window defroster, you might see this yellow or amber light pop up on your dashboard. It’s just there to let you know that the defroster is working.
Usually, it’ll turn off by itself after a while. But if it stays on for longer than it should, it might mean something’s up with the defroster system. So, keep an eye on it and get it checked if it doesn’t go away.
#64. Window Wiper
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the windscreen wipers are activated.
#65. Key Not in Vehicle
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the key is not in the car.
#66. Hazard Lights On
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the hazard lights are turned on.
#67. Fan Dash Light
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the internal ventilation/fan is in operation.
#68. Direction/Signal Indicators
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when one of the turn signals (left or right) has been activated.
#69. Car on Ramp
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the vehicle is on a ramp/jack system.
#70. Bonnet Open Warning light
When you see that “bonnet open” warning light flashing on your dashboard, it means your bonnet (or hood, if you prefer) isn’t closed tightly. There are a couple of reasons for this. It could be because you didn’t shut it all the way, or maybe there’s an issue with the hood switch—it might be broken or not connected properly.
If that light is on, you need to pull over safely and make sure your bonnet is properly closed. Give it a good push and latch it securely. Once you’ve done that, the light should go away, and you can get back on the road without any worries.
#71. Boot Open Indicator
When you see that boot open warning light flashing, it means your trunk or boot isn’t shut tight. There could be a bunch of reasons for it, like grime on the switch in the trunk, a busted cable in the wiring, or doors that aren’t fully closed.
When that light comes on, the first thing you need to do is pull over safely and make sure all your doors and the trunk are properly shut. If the issue keeps popping up, you might need to get the latch or switch repaired or replaced.
#72. Door Open Warning
Ever seen that little light on your car’s dashboard that looks like a door with a crack? Well, that’s the door ajar warning light, and it’s there to give you a heads-up when one (or more) of your car’s doors aren’t properly closed. It’s actually pretty important because it helps prevent potential safety risks.
You see, having a door open while driving could mean that stuff from outside could fly into your car during a crash – not cool, right? Plus, it could drain your car’s battery if you accidentally leave the interior lights on. Yikes!
So, to avoid any surprises while you’re cruising, just take a quick moment to double-check that all your doors are closed nice and tight before you hit the road again.
Advanced Feature Symbols
Your car’s dashboard has these fancy symbols that go with cool and high-tech car stuff. These symbols pop up to tell you if something might be wrong or if a system is doing its thing.
Green symbols mean everything’s good and running smoothly, but if you see yellow or red symbols, there might be a problem.
The car industry keeps coming up with new and better features all the time, so these symbols change with each new generation of cars. It’s all about those awesome technological advances!
#73. Recirculated Cabin Air
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the vehicle’s ventilation system is recirculating air from within the vehicle, suitable when particularly cold outside.
#74. Fresh Air Ventilation
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the ventilation system is using fresh air and not recirculating internal air from the vehicle.
#75. Rear Spoiler Warning
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when there is a fault in the rear spoiler system.
#76. Parking Sensor Light
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the PAP (Park Assist Pilot) is activated.
#77. Lane Assist Warning light
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the lane assist system is switched on and road markings can be detected.
#78. Key Fob Battery Low
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when your key fob battery needs to be changed and replaced, so you can continue using the remote.
#79. Ignition Switch Warning
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when there’s an issue with the ignition system or the car key. It could be due to a glitch or a worn-out key.
#80. Hill Descent Control
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the system is activated and helps you maintain a specific speed while driving down a hill.
#81. Forward Collision Warning Light
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when a potential collision is detected.
#82. Eco Mode Driving Indicator
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the Eco mode function is activated.
#83. Cruise Control Warning Light
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the cruise control system is activated.
#84. Convertible Roof Warning Light
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the roof is either opening or closing. If the lamp is lit continuously the roof is not fully opened, or there is a fault in the system.
#85. Brake Hold Indicator Light
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the brake hold system is functioning properly.
#86. Blind Spot Indicator Light
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when a vehicle or obstruction is detected in the blind spot.
#87. Auto Windscreen Wiping
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the windscreen wipers are activated in Automatic mode.
#88. Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) Warning light
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the AEB system is turned off or when the radar sensor or cover is blocked with dirt or snow.
#89. Adaptive Cruise Control Warning Light
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) is in operation.
#90. Shift light Indicators
This warning light turns on to inform the driver that the gear shifts to optimize fuel economy. Basically, if you can, shift your gear up or down as the light indicates or when it makes sense depending on the situation. By doing that, you’ll be maximizing your fuel economy and saving some bucks!
#91. Winter Mode
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when you’re driving in winter mode.
#92. Start/Stop Warning Light
This Indicator light turns on to inform the driver that Intelligent Stop/Start system is active and the engine has been shut down.
#93. Speed Limiter
This warning light is a dashboard indicator that appears when the speed limiter function is activated.
#94. Air Flow Indicators
When you see this warning light on your dashboard, it means something about the way the air is flowing inside your car. It’s all about where the air is being directed.
- Air Flow Upper: This one is about which way the air is blowing from the upper vents in your car. It can either blow toward your body or your face.
- Air Flow Lower: Now, this indicator tells you which way the air is coming out from the lower vents in the footwell area, right near your feet.
- Air Flow Upper and Lower: When you see this one, it means the air is evenly distributed to both the upper and lower vents. So you’ll feel it both up top and down low.
Diesel-Powered Vehicle Symbols
Let’s talk about one of those symbols you might find on your car dashboard if you’re driving a diesel-powered vehicle.
#95. Glow Plug Indicator
If you see this little light on your dashboard, it means that your engine’s glow plugs are heating up. Don’t start the engine until that light goes away. But if it starts flashing, uh-oh, there might be a problem, like one of those glow plugs being worn out. Time to get it checked!
#96. Fuel Filter Warning Light
When see this warning light turn on, it’s basically telling you that your diesel fuel filter is chock-full and needs a good emptying. Why, you ask? Well, if you ignore it, you might just end up damaging your engine, and trust me, you don’t want that kind of headache. So, make sure to give that filter a good cleaning to keep your engine running smoothly.
#97. Exhaust Fluid Warning Light (DFP)
When this warning light starts flashing, it means your DEF tank is running low on fluid. Just so you’re in the know, DEF is a special solution used in diesel vehicles to keep those pesky nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in check and protect the environment.
When that DEF light starts shining, it’s your car’s way of saying, “Hey, buddy, it’s time to fill up that DEF tank!” You don’t want to ignore it because running out of DEF can cause some serious issues with your ride’s emissions and performance.
#98. AdBlue Tank is Empty light
The AdBlue system is pretty cool, It’s got a pump that squirts a little bit of diesel exhaust fluid into the engine based on how it’s running. And get this—it’s got a small tank with a sensor that holds the fluid, so you don’t have to keep refilling it all the time.
Now, on your dashboard, you’ll see three lights that can light up to warn you about any AdBlue system issues. The first one is the low-level warning light. It’s gonna come on before the tank is totally empty, so you’ve got plenty of time to fill it up.
Usually, this light is yellow, but no worries. Once you fill-up the tank with more exhaust fluid, that light’s gonna go off, and you’ll be good to go.
But here’s the deal. If that light turns red, you better not turn off the engine, my friend. ‘Cause if you do and you try to restart it, no dice. It ain’t gonna start. So if that happens while you’re cruising, you gotta fill up the tank ASAP, or you won’t be able to get that engine started again.
It’s a smart feature to make sure you don’t drive too far without enough exhaust fluid. Just refill the tank, and voila! The light should turn off.
#99. AdBlue Malfunction Light
When the AdBlue Malfunction Indicator light comes on, it means there’s a problem with the AdBlue system or the tank isn’t filled with the right liquid. And here’s the deal: if you’ve gone more than 2,400 km without filling up, your car won’t start again until you take care of it.
You see, vehicles with SCR technology have this fancy electronic thingy that stops the engine from starting if there’s no AdBlue around. So, when that light pops up, it’s time to call in a pro to get it serviced. Don’t worry, they’ll know what to do!
#100. Water Fluid Filter Warning Light
When you see that Water Fluid Filter Warning Indicator light flashing, it’s basically telling you that the fuel filter has had enough of that water stuff. Time to get rid of it! You’ll want to drain the water from the filter to keep things running smoothly.
Hybrid and electric car Dashboard Warning Light
Do you know hybrids cars have some similar stuff on the dashboard as regular cars with engines? Well, electric vehicles also have their own set of fancy symbols on the dash. Since they don’t need oil or gas, the battery becomes super important.
If it gets too hot, too cold, or doesn’t charge properly, you’ll see these dashboard symbols pop up, and you gotta pay attention to them.
#101. Low Battery Warning Light
Imagine it as a “low fuel” light, but instead of gasoline, it’s all about keeping your battery juiced up. Your EV (that’s short for an electric vehicle, by the way) has got your back and will give you a heads-up when you’re running low on power.
First, it’ll kindly remind you to charge up when you’ve got about 12% battery left. And if you happen to miss that friendly nudge, it’ll hit you up again when you’re down to a mere 5%.
#102. EV Mode Warning Light
This is for all the hybrid car drivers out there. It’s very simple and concerns the case when your car runs only on electricity. Basically, it means your vehicle is in this cool, eco-friendly mode where it doesn’t use any gas. So no need to worry! You can continue to run your errands worry-free.
#103. RBS Warning Light
When you see this symbol lighting up, it means that the regenerative brake isn’t working properly. Sometimes, you might also spot a red brake warning light along with it.
Basically, it could be a problem with the whole RBS thing. You should definitely take your ride to an authorized service center as soon as possible.
#104. Power Limitation Indicator
Did you know that little tortoise symbol on your car’s dashboard? It’s not just a cute decoration—it’s a warning sign! It means your vehicle is running low on power, specifically electric power or the hybrid kind. So, if you spot that tortoise, it’s time to pay attention.
Now, there could be a few reasons why your car is lacking power, and they can range from minor to major issues. The important thing is to act quickly but safely. As soon as you can, pull over and find a safe spot. You’ll want to give your car a break and call for help. Get it to a garage so they can figure out what’s causing this power problem.
#105. Auto Glide Control Light
See this symbol? It means the AGC feature is on. Auto Glide Control is pretty cool because it helps hybrids save fuel by reducing how much they slow down. It lets the car coast more smoothly, and that boosts the fuel economy.
#106. Battery Charge Level Warning Light
When you see this symbol in your hybrid or electric car, it means your battery is running low on juice and it’s time to charge up. If you’re driving a hybrid, it might also mean that the engine will kick in until the battery gets some charge back. So, it’s a friendly reminder to plug in or find a charging station soon!
#107. Battery Temperature Warning Light
Similar to ICE vehicles (although the symbol is a battery instead of an engine), It means your battery’s temperature is running hot. And hey, you gotta be smart about it. Don’t just keep driving like nothing’s happening. No way! Pullover or stop right away, dude. Let that battery cool off before you keep going.
#108. General Electric Issue
This symbol means there is a problem with the vehicle’s electrical system. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty broad symbol and could mean there’s a problem with anything from the motors to the internal wiring to the battery.
The amber or red color of this icon indicates the severity of the problem. However, if you see this symbol, you should seek immediate inspection and service
#109. Ready to Drive
Before you hit the road, there’s one symbol you should keep an eye out for, even though you’ll want to ignore most of them. This little guy just tells you that your hybrid or electric car is good to go… you know, because it’s so quiet, you might not be sure if it’s even turned on.
#110. Pedestrian Warning Light
Do you know what’s a potential problem with hybrids and electric vehicles? They’re super quiet, like sneaky ninjas on the road. And that can be dangerous ’cause pedestrians might not hear them coming.
But don’t worry, there’s this cool pedestrian warning system that’s got your back. It’s there to make sure you don’t accidentally bump into someone. If it senses that a collision is about to go down, it’ll give you a heads-up, like “Hey, watch out!” And if you’re not paying attention or just chilling, the car can even hit the brakes automatically to save the day.
#111. External Sound System Issue
Did you know that EVs and hybrids have this cool sound system that helps pedestrians know they’re around and prevents any accidents? So, if you see a little symbol lighting up, it could mean there’s something up with those external speakers or the system itself. Time to get it checked, maybe?
We’ve covered common car dashboard symbols that you’re likely to come across. Think check engine light, battery warning, tire pressure monitoring, and ABS warning, just to name a few. We’ve dug deep into their meanings and given you some handy tips on what to do when they light up.
Keep in mind that each car model may have its own slight variations in symbols and their meanings. So, when in doubt, always refer to your trusty vehicle owner’s manual for the most accurate info. Oh, and don’t forget that modern cars can come with all sorts of fancy tech and more intricate symbols, so stay on top of your specific car’s dashboard features.
By paying attention to these symbols, tackling any issues they flag as soon as possible, and seeking professional help when needed, you’ll keep your wheels rolling smoothly, stay safe on the road, and save yourself from potentially hefty repair bills down the line.