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Car Dashboard Symbols and Meanings – Common Warning Lights

Do you know about all car dashboard symbols and meanings? I bet most of us don’t. When you turn on the engine, we see dashboard warning lights turn on for a bulb check. All warning lights must turn off after a while. If any of these lights is still ON, it means your car is warning you about some trouble. In this blog (video), I will explain different car dashboard symbols and meanings. I will also explain how to resolve the problems they come with. 

A Guide to Car Dashboard Symbols and Meanings

Engine Warning Light

Engine Warning Light

If this light illuminates with the ignition switched on, it means engine management system is malfunctioning. It is still safe to drive the vehicle until you find a workshop or mechanic. However, you need to go at a low speed and be careful in driving. Bear in mind; the engine warning light does not precisely define the problem in your engine. It could light up due to faulty oxygen sensor, gas cap, catalytic converter, mass airflow sensor, and spark plugs and wires.
 

Brake System Warning

Brake System Warning

The second sign on our guide of car dashboard symbols and meanings is brake system warning light, indicating different issues. First off, you need to make sure that you release the emergency brake. This light also turns on if brake pressure is low. It could be due to a leak in either part of the system, which does not let the brake system sustain the pressure. As most of the UK cars have Antilock Braking System (ABS), you may also find an issue in ABS. However, ABS has its own respective light on the dashboard. You can disable the ABS through its controller to let the standard brakes work. 
 

Anti-lock Brake Warning Light

Anti-lock Brake Warning Light

While we are on the subject of car dashboard symbols and meanings, I must separately address the Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) warning light. When it lights up, it denotes a problem with the system. Anti-block brakes help avoid your vehicle wheels locking up and enhance steering control during braking. Keep in mind the ABS light illuminates every time you turn on the ignition, and it goes away after a few seconds as the system performs self-check. If it disappears, all is good. If not, you should consult with your mechanic. You can get more information about it here.
 

Oil Pressure Warning Light

Oil Pressure Warning Light

The fourth one on our list of car dashboard symbols and meanings is oil pressure warning light. If your oil pressure warning light does not go off when the engine starts, it specifies your engine is running short of engine oil. All you need to do is check the oil level in your mill. If it is low, take a pit stop at the nearest workshop and change the oil. However, if you find the fluid on the correct level, you would need an expert's assistance to resolve the issue.
 

Coolant Warning Light

Car Dashboard Symbols and Meanings - Coolant Warning Light

Another important sign in our guide of car dashboard symbols and meanings is coolant warning light. It means the coolant level is low, which is common in the heat. Another reason for low coolant level could be a leakage of coolant water. If the level is very low, you need to add the correct amount and type of coolant in the radiator. Let a qualified technician inspect your vehicle in case of leakage.
 

Battery Warning Light

Battery Warning Light

Among the most crucial car dashboard symbols and meanings is battery warning light. It lights up due to a fault in the battery charging system. A broken or loose battery terminal or alternator drive belt or any other failure might be a reason for a non-chagrining battery. Tighten the loose components and replace the broken ones. Do not try it yourself if you do not have adequate expertise. Consult a battery technician!
 

Tire Pressure Warning Light

Car Dashboard Symbols and Meanings - Tire Pressure Warning Light

The sixth sign in our guide of car dashboard symbols and meanings is TPMS sign, hinting that the pressure in one or more of your tyres is either very low or very high. Both underinflated and overinflated tyres are unsafe to drive and trigger damage to your car. Most manufacturers suggest filling between 30 and 35 psi (pounds per square inch). However, better check your owner manual or sticker inside the driver’s door. Get more information about optimal tyre pressure by reading this blog.
 

Automatic Shift Lock or Engine Start Indicator

Automatic Shift Lock or Engine Start Indicator

Next, in our guide of car dashboard symbols and meanings, is automatic shift lock, which most drivers do not know about. When this symbol lights up, you are probably trying to shift gear or turn on your ignition without holding the brake. The system will lock your car in park or neutral gear until you hold the brake. 
 

Seat Belt Reminder

Car Dashboard Symbols - Seat Belt Reminder Warning Light

Here is one of the most common dashboard symbols and meanings you want to know. When you see this while driving, it means you forgot to buckle up. According to NHTSA, “In 2017 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives and could have saved an additional 2,549 people if they had been wearing seat belts.”
 

Airbag Indicator

Airbag Indicator

This one should be a no-brainer, but of course, we are here to explain all car dashboard symbols and meanings. It indicates a problem with one of your airbags or the system as a whole. It requires your immediate attention because airbags are your lifeline in case of a road mishap. 
 

Security Light

Security Light

If your car comes equipped with an anti-theft system, and you find this light on while driving, it means the system is malfunctioning. Visit your nearest garage or your vehicle manufacturer’s service centre.
 

Washer Fluid Indicator

Car Dashboard Symbols - Washer Fluid Indicator

Here is the last warning light in our guide of car dashboard symbols and meanings. Mimicking the windshield wiper's movement, when you find this illuminating, it indicates low washer fluid. It would be best if you filled up the reservoir to use it for a clear view while driving. 

PS: Every vehicle manufacturer has its own instrument cluster; hence these symbols may differ for different automakers. If you are doubtful about car dashboard symbols and meanings, you should consult your car's owner manual.

Final Words About Car Dashboard Symbols and Meanings

With the right knowledge of dashboard warning lights, you can easily understand what your car is trying to communicate. In response to that, you can either handle the situation personally or consult a professional. Bear in mind warning lights do require your immediate attention, so you must never ignore them.