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Bury St Edmunds - Agricultural

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March 26, 2019Dashboard Warning Lights – What do they Mean?

Your dashboard is a hub of information, conveying all sorts of useful details you can quickly glance at while you’re on the road. Most of the time, when your car is working as it should, there’ll be no cause for concern.

But if something is wrong, you have a number of dashboard warning lights ready to light up and alert you to the issue. There are quite a few warning lights on your dashboard, so let’s take a look at what some of the most important ones mean.

Illustration of Dashboard Warning Lights

Brake system / Fluid warning light

When this light flashes, it’s letting you know that there’s something wrong with your brakes or the brake fluid. Your brakes one of the most important safety features on your car, so have them inspected by a professional as soon as you see this light flashing on your dashboard.

Battery warning light

This light will illuminate when you turn your car on — but should disappear again shortly after. If it stays lit up, or lights up while you’re driving, then there could be a problem with your car’s electrics or any of the following components: alternator, the battery itself, damaged connections or cabling, corroded terminals. If it is an issue with the alternator, this can have severe consequences for other components, such as the steering, so make sure to have the issue inspected as soon as possible.

Air bag warning light

When this light is illuminated, the dashboard is telling you that your airbag isn’t working properly. That means, in the event of a crash, the airbag might not deploy, leaving you and any passengers at greater risk of injury. It may also mean that the airbag could deploy unexpectedly, which is also a significant hazard. Have your airbag inspected by a professional to ensure this essential safety feature is working as intended.

Oil warning light

When the oil warning light flashes up, it could be because the oil pressure is too high, too low  or your oil needs topping up. Whatever the issue, this warning should not be ignored; oil helps to lubricate the engine and keeps it running smoothly at a steady, cool temperature. If the temperature gets too high, or the pressure is too high or low, it could result in costly and severe engine damage. Top you oil level up and keep an eye on the dashboard — if the warning light persists, book your car in for a check up.

Coolant warning light

Your coolant warning light tells you that your coolant levels need topping up, so make sure to do this as soon as this appears on your dashboard. When coolant levels fall too low — or empty altogether — your engine won’t be able to cope with the rise in temperature, and could completely break down and require replacing.

Diesel particulate filter (DPF) warning light

Modern diesel cars come fitted with a DPF, which reduces harmful emissions by removing soot from your exhaust. With the recent changes to MOTs — focussing more closely on emissions — seeing your DPF warning light flash up should be a cause for concern. Have this checked by a professional to ensure your car is running as smoothly as possible.

Tyre pressure warning light

If your car is equipped with a tyre pressure sensor, then this warning light will alert you to a range of possible issues with your tyres. When this light illuminates, it could be that your car has a puncture or some other form of damage which has caused it to lose pressure. Refill your tyres at a pump to the recommended pressure levels, and if the light persists and the tyres repeatedly lose pressure, then take your car in and have the tyres inspected.

Power steering warning light

If there’s an issue with your car’s steering, then this light will alert you — though you’ll also likely feel that steering has become a lot harder. The act of steering will feel heavier and it will take more effort to turn. This becomes a significant danger at higher speeds, so you need to have your steering checked by a professional as soon as possible.

ECU / Engine warning light

The engine warning light might be accompanied by the car entering a ‘safe mode’ — where the car’s power is drastically limited as to protect the engine from further damage. This allows you to drive safely to your home or to a mechanic. In this instance, the cause will likely be a large mechanical fault, but you might also see the engine light appear simply because of an electrical fault. In any case, have your engine looked at by a professional so it can be repaired as necessary.

If your dashboard is displaying one or more of these warning lights, do not ignore it. The team at Treadfirst can examine and repair cars of all makes and models, so whether its your electrics or a severe mechanical issue, contact our experienced mechanics to book your car in for an appointment as soon as possible.

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