What is the meaning of that light on the dashboard? Know how to decipher warning lights

Have you ever been in this situation: You are driving and suddenly a hieroglyphic-like symbol pops up on your dashboard? You have no the faintest idea what it means. You just have to drive whatever happens.

If you knew better, your vehicle is trying to communicate to you. But because you do not know how urgent the problem is, your only concern is to get to your destination. As Jem Grip Auto Tire says ” It is time you learn to understand the language your vehicle speaks.”

The red, green and yellow language

Dashboard warning lights may not be under the regulation of the auto industry, but they bear a singularity when it comes to their coding and meaning. You are right to think of them as traffic lights:

·         Red: this one is for a critical failure and has to be attended to immediately. Some of the malfunctions that could bring up these lights include brake failure, over heating lamps and very low engine oil. When you see such a light, you should stop and seek help immediately.

·         Orange/yellow: while these ones are not so urgent, you should have the problems addressed as soon as possible. Maintenance and engine check lights are most likely to trigger warnings in these color codes.

·         Blue/green: these are normal warnings and they do not necessarily need immediate attention. They will show up for problems like intensive beam indicators and low level of windshield wiper fluid.

Deciphering the most common dashboard light warnings

·         Warning for high engine temperatures: when your engine heats up, a fiery fire symbol will show up. You should stop and shut off your car immediately. Wait until the engine cools off before you can open the radiator cap.

·         Warning for low oil pressure: when a red tap-like light shows up on your dashboard, stop and shut off your engine. The problem can be as a result of failed oil pump or low level of engine oil.

·          Check engine light: when you see that yellow camera-like light, there is a problem with your emission. It could be a lose cap that only needs tightening. However, if the light is steady you will need to service your emission (but it is not an emergency). But when the light keeps blinking, it is a sign of a critical problem that should be checked and rectified immediately. It could be a misfiring engine with a potential to damage your catalytic converter.

·         Brake warning light: a red circle with an exclamation mark in the middle and guarded on either side by a bracket means there is a problem with your braking system. It could be a failure with the hydraulic pressure or you mistakenly left the parking lot with your brakes on. If the brake pedal feels like a sponge, you should immediately get you car to a repair shop.

·         Restricted engine power warning: this one is in the yellow codes thus not an emergency. What it means is that your vehicle cannot exceed certain speed no matter how hard you try. You should have it checked and fixed when you have the time.