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A quick guide to dashboard warning lights

A quick guide to dashboard warning lights

When we switch on the ignition, the instrument cluster of a car “lights up like a Christmas tree.” These lights, each of which illuminates an icon, serving as a rapid status check for various vehicle components. However, if any of the warning lights remain on for more than 10 seconds after starting the engine, something is amiss with that component, and you have a problem on your hands. Here is a quick guide to some of the most common instrument cluster warning iconography and what to do when they come on.

Check engine light

This light indicates that something is amiss with your engine, as the name implies. Most contemporary automobiles include a slew of sensors that keep an eye on the engine to ensure it works smoothly. If one of them notices something unusual, it activates the light to alert the user.

However, keep in mind that this light encompasses both extremes. It could be anything from loose wiring to a more serious issue like an intake manifold leak or compression loss. Converting your automobile to operate on CNG may also cause this light to illuminate, as most of them were not designed to run on the fuel.

In any event, we advise you to take the automobile to a reliable technician for an inspection.

ABS warning light

Anti-lock braking systems, or ABS, are an important part of a vehicle’s braking system. It keeps you in control and keeps you from sliding off the road by preventing the brakes from locking up during high-speed braking. If this light illuminates while driving, something is amiss with the system.

ABS is a critical vehicle safety function, thus we recommend taking the vehicle to a mechanic as soon as feasible.

Airbag warning light

Large deflated air cushions buried inside different components of a vehicle’s interior are known as airbags. They inflate almost instantly in the event of a collision to protect the occupants from the force of the impact. To do so, they use a complex system of sensors and other technologies to detect a collision. The warning light illuminates when one of the systems fails or malfunctions.

Airbags have saved the lives of many people who might otherwise have died in a car accident. If the warning light comes on, get to a shop as soon as possible.

Check engine oil light

Engine oil or lubricants are needed to keep your engine running longer. They keep the engine’s moving parts cool and prevent them from rubbing against one another.

Engine oil degrades with time and must be replaced after a set amount of time of use. The oil should be changed every 10,000 to 15,000 kilometers or every two years. If the engine senses that the oil is losing its efficacy (as measured by oil pressure), the warning light will illuminate.

This light will go away if you top up or change the engine oil. If the light turns on too often, your engine may be burning oil, and you should replace it.

Engine temperature warning light

The majority of today’s engines are liquid-cooled. The engine block is encased in a water jacket that employs liquid coolant to dissipate the heat generated by the combustion process. The coolant, like the engine oil, must be replaced regularly or the motor may overheat and cause damage. In this case, the engine’s built-in thermostat illuminates the warning light.

It is advised that you turn off your engine and let it cool down naturally for at least half an hour in this situation. Then, according to the car owner’s handbook, fill up the radiator with the required coolant. If the problem persists, take it to a shop to determine the source of the problem.

Battery light

All automobiles rely on a battery to power and control their many electrical systems. When the automobile is running, the engine keeps the battery charged, but without it, the battery can only power the electrical systems for a short period.


The caution light illuminates when you turn off the engine but not the electrical, as a reminder that you are on borrowed time. Most automobile batteries run out of power after 20 minutes, at which point the car is functionally dead and must be jump-started using an external battery.

However, if the lights stay on while the engine is running, it means that the engine is not charging the battery for some reason. In such circumstances, take the vehicle to a mechanic to determine what went wrong.

Brake system warning light

This turns up as a friendly reminder whenever the parking brake is lifted. This useful sign can save you from embarrassment while backing out of a parking place or from causing excessive wear on your gearbox due to careless driving.


However, if the indicator remains on after the parking brake has been removed, it indicates that something is amiss with the brakes and they are not functioning correctly.


If this occurs, do not drive the vehicle until a mechanic has examined the problem. Driving a car with malfunctioning brakes is a risky and insane idea since it puts you and everyone else on the road in danger.

Tire pressure warning light

Tire pressure monitoring sensors were formerly considered a luxury item, but more and more new automobiles are now equipped with them as a standard feature. These sensors check the air pressure inside each tire to ensure it is within safe operating limits.


The light goes on when the air in the tires gets dangerously low, alerting the owner that he has to examine and inflate the tires.

Check washer fluid light

This indicator appears in some automobiles when the cleaning chemical in the washer fluid tank becomes too low. If you don’t utilize the jets, simply top up the reservoir or opt to ignore it.

Fog light

It comes on when the fog lights are turned on. It’s more of a soft reminder than a direct warning. If you’re forgetful, this will come in handy.

Seat belt reminder

Self-explanatory. When the belts aren’t strapped in, it turns on. If you have children and/or prefer safety over comfort, these are helpful reminders.



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