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What Do All Those Lights on Your Dashboard Mean?

Don’t you hate it when you are driving along, you hear a “ding”, and notice a warning light on your dashboard? It’s tempting to just turn up the radio and ignore it, but those warning lights and symbols are very important for keeping your vehicle running safely and smoothly. Pay attention to them and perform maintenance when needed, so you don’t have to pay for more costly repairs down the road. Here are some common warning lights you may see on your dashboard, what they mean, and how to address them.

Oil Pressure Light 

This light, which looks like an old-fashioned oil can with a spout, indicates that there is a problem with your oil pressure system – most likely, your oil level is too low, although it could also be a sign of a more significant engine failure. Get this checked out as soon as possible since you can damage your engine by running it without proper lubrication.

Tire Pressure Light 

For a typical passenger car, tire pressure should be between 30 – 35 pounds per square inch (psi); trucks require a much higher psi. This symbol, which looks like this (!), indicates that at least one of your tires is either over or underinflated. This is unsafe and can also lead to uneven wear and tear on your tires.

Engine Temperature Warning

This red warning light, which looks like a thermometer, is a sign that your engine is overheated – not good. Stop driving to let your engine cool down and get your car checked ASAP – you are likely low on coolant/antifreeze or may have an issue with your water pump or related components.

Anti-lock Brake Warning

The ABS warning symbol – ((ABS)) – comes on when there is a problem with your anti-lock brake system. This may come on for a few seconds every time you start your car, which happens during a self-check, but if it stays on, be sure to get your brakes checked.

Engine Warning

Oh, the dreaded “check engine” light. This light could appear for a variety of reasons – something as simple as leaving the gas cap off, or something far more dangerous. If this light appears, pull off the road and check your various systems. If the light is flashing, be sure to stop driving immediately so you don’t cause further damage or risk your safety.

Battery Alert

The battery alert light, which looks like a battery with a + and – symbol, tells you that your battery may require a charge or replacement, you have a loose or damaged battery cable, or even that your alternator belt may be broken. If your headlights or interior lights are dim, charge or replace your battery before it runs out of power entirely.

Low Fuel Indicator

Every driver should be well aware of this symbol, which looks like a gas pump. This means you are low on fuel. If you see this symbol, don’t push your luck – stop at the nearest gas station and fill up. You don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road somewhere.

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