Get your Car Dashboard Lights Right

The Go Girl guide to understanding the warning lights on your car dashboard


Car dashboard warning lights

There are so many symbols on your car dashboard that it is impossible to know what they all mean. There are the basics which you see every day such as indicators, lights and low petrol warning lights but would you know what to do if one of the other lights popped up on your display? No, well see Go Girl’s handy guide to help you through the dashboard mystery.

Does colour make a difference?

The lights are colour coded and require you to take the following action:

square-greenGreen or blue dashboard lights – These are for information and will inform you that a system is in operation.

square-yellowOrange or yellow dashboard warning light –  This means information, and the vehicle needs repairing or servicing.

square-yellowRed dashboard warning light –  This means danger; you may have a serious problem.

Flashing dashboard warning light – This means urgent action is required and the vehicle needs repair or a part replaced.



Diesel Particulate Filter

Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) catch bits of soot in your exhaust and need emptying regularly, a bit like your vacuum cleaner. Your vehicle usually empties your DPF automatically on long journeys when the exhaust is hot, but if your journey’s a bit stop-start, the emptying process might not happen and the warning light will come on. To clear the blockage, refer to your vehicle’s handbook. If the light doesn’t disappear, pull over and call your breakdown company or garage straight away.



Airbag Warning

One fault in the airbag system will deactivate the whole system and trigger the light on the dashboard to illuminate.

Check your vehicle handbook for any checks that can be performed. The vehicle can still be driven, but if the light remains on, specialist diagnostic equipment will need to be used to diagnose faults and to extinguish the warning light.



Brake System Warning

If this light comes on once you’ve released the handbrake, your brake fluid level might be low and will need to be topped up. If you’re having to press your brake pedal further than usual, one of your hydraulic brake circuits might have failed. This is a serious problem, so pull over and call for help.

If the light’s still on, even though the brake fluid level is correct, you may have a faulty sensor. Take your vehicle to a garage as soon as possible.



Engine Overheating

The engine overheating symbol will light up if your car engine becomes dangerously hot. You may have a blockage or leak within the engine coolant system, or simply insufficient coolant.

If the light illuminates whilst driving, pull over and turn the engine off. Wait for the engine to cool down before checking coolant. Check your handbook if you aren’t sure how to do this. Top up coolant. If the light stays on contact your garage.



Catalytic Converter

Your exhaust produces harmful emissions that are damaging to the atmosphere if released into the air. A catalytic converter substantially reduces the amount of harmful pollutants by taking these gases and converting them into water vapour and less harmful gases via a series of chemical reactions.

If the light is on, it could be a problem with a damaged, overheating or malfunctioning catalytic converter. Some vehicles may illuminate the engine warning light if there is a problem with the catalytic converter. The engine management system may reduce power to the engine if there is a problem with the catalytic converter. Get your car checked out by your garage.



Fuel Filter Water Trap

If this light comes on while you are driving, it means that water has been detected in your fuel filter. Usually you can drive on without any problems, but you will need to get the water in your fuel filter drained off as soon as possible.

If you’ve just refuelled your vehicle, pull over and switch off your engine straight away.  Your fuel might be contaminated and that could damage your injection system. Call a garage as soon as you can.



Oil Pressure Warning

If this light comes on whilst driving, or is not going out once you’ve started your engine. Check the engine oil level, if it’s low top it up, if it is correct get your car checked by a professional.



Tyre Pressure Warning

The light will come on if the tyre pressure monitoring system detects a tyres pressure is reduced by 25% or more. This dashboard warning light is more frequently illuminated during cold winter months when outdoor temperatures are reduced and will lower tyre pressures.

Check your tyre pressure as soon as you can and top them up if necessary. Refer to your vehicle handbook for pressure value. If the pressure is at the correct level contact your garage as you may have a faulty sensor.

Note: The above is to be used as a general guide only and in all cases its always best to refer to the vehicle manufacturers handbook

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