Car Dashboard Lights You Shouldn’t Ignore

You see them everyday when starting your car or even while driving.

Car instrument clusters are filled with a number of warning lights that can look quite overwhelming and intimidating, but they are there for a meaningful purpose.

They use various sensors and electronic components throughout the car to alert the driver on the current state of the vehicle. It is important to know the meaning of each warning light, and what to do when they light up on your dashboard in order to avoid any serious damage or accident.

There are 3 colors used to signify the intensity of the warning, although not all lights may mean warning . They all have to be treated differently. 

Green This signifies that the system is operating correctly.

Yellow Orange Something is not working correctly and needs to be looked at as soon as possible.
Red Urgent, this warning is serious and requires immediate attention. If you are driving, safely pull over and stop the car.

Few things you should keep in mind.

  • All cars are different and not all cars have the same dashboard lights. Please consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual for more clarity.
  • Most of these lights may illuminate shortly after the ignition is switched on to perform a quick  system check. disappears right after a few seconds to inform you that the system is working correctly. They will remain illuminated when something is wrong.  

In this article, we are going to explain to you the meaning behind these warning lights, why they come on, how urgent/serious the problem is and what you should do when they illuminate on your dashboard.

Here are 14 common warning lights on your car’s dashboard

  • Engine Management Light
  • Battery warning light
  • Traction Control &  Electronic Stability Program
  • Engine oil Warning Light
  • Brake pad warning light 
  • Airbag warning light
  • Low tyre pressure warning light
  • Power steering warning light
  • Anti Lock Braking System (ABS) Warning Light
  • Brake Warning Light
  • Coolant Level warning light
  • Engine Temperature light
  • Low Fuel Indicator Light 
  • Seatbelt Warning Light

Engine Management Light Indicator

What it means: The engine management indicator light comes on whenever the engine is turned on to check the bulb and turns off right after a few seconds. If the light remains illuminated, the car’s diagnostic systems may have detected a malfunction that needs to be investigated as soon as possible.

Battery Warning light

What it means: The battery warning light comes on to alert the driver of the current state of the battery charge. This can be caused by a low battery voltage (battery being old and is no longer holding charge correctly).  Indicator light means that the car’s charging system is short on power or is not charging properly. It normally indicates a problem with the battery itself or the alternator What to do: This light will appear if your battery is at a critically low level of charge. If you do not stop the vehicle soon, you could end up stranded. The best, and most obvious, course of action is to seek the nearest available charging point, whether this is at home or a public facility.

Traction Control & Electronic Stability Program

What it means: This light comes on to alert the driver that they are traveling on a slippery surface and one or some of the wheels have lost grip. What to do: Beware of the slippery surface you are driving on. Continue driving but with caution.

Engine Oil Warning Light

What It Means: This light illuminates to indicate that there is an issue with your car’s oil pressure system. Which can be due to a low oil level (cracked oil pan), a faulty oil pressure sensor or a malfunction with the engine’s oil pump. (NOTE: Some car dashboards will display the word “OIL” instead of this symbol.) What To Do: It is always advised to properly lubricate your engine to avoid any damage to the internal parts. Here are a couple of things you should do. If the lights come on while you are driving, pull over when it is safe to do so, wait a couple of minutes, then proceed by checking the oil level by pulling the engine dipstick. If the oil level is low, refill accordingly with the recommended engine oil and level. Consult your car’s owner manual for the dipstick location. The light should go off once having refilled. With the help of a flashlight or a well lit area, have a look around and under your engine for any signs of oil leaks. If after having refilled your oil, the engine runs smoothly but the light remains on without any signs of leaks, it means your oil pressure sensor might be faulty. Anyhow, we recommend that. You visit a mechanic as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis.

Brake Pad Warning Light

What it means: This feature is not available in all cars, but thanks to modern tech, cars are now equipped with brake pad sensors that help inform the driver on the state of the brake pads. The brake pad warning light will illuminate once the pads have reached a below than recommended thickness level. What to do: Although this sign does not mean that your brake pads are completely worn out, they however alert you that they may need to be replaced before they become dangerous. Check: you might need these brake tools to work on your car

Airbag Warning Light

What it means: Airbags are crucial safety features of modern vehicles. They help protect the driver and passengers from severe injuries/head trauma in an accident. The Airbag warning light indicates that there is a potential failure of the vehicle’s airbag system. This can be due to a loose connector, a malfunction within the seatbelt pretensioner system or a completely faulty airbag unit. What to do: Although the airbag warning light is a serious warning,  It does not however require you to immediately stop your traveling journey to access it. However, it is advised to visit a mechanic. Because it’s not safe to drive with a faulty airbag.

Low Tyre Pressure Warning Light

What it means: This sign is also known as (TPMS) Tyre Pressure Monitoring System light. It illuminates when the pressure inside the tyre is below the recommended pressure. This can be due to a number of causes such as a loose tyre valve, punctured tyre or even a faulty TPMS sensor. What to do: If this comes up when the car is stationary, have a look around all the tyres to confirm their conditions (low/flat/punctured).  If the tyre pressure is low, with the use of a tyre inflator, carefully inflate the tyre with the manufacturer recommended tyre pressure (see the owner’s manual or the inside of the driver side door for tyre pressure specifications). If the tyre is punctured, swap it with the spare tyre located in or under your vehicle’s boot using the appropriate tools. If you are driving, pull over onto  the side of the road to assess whether the tyre needs to be inflated or swapped. Proceed to do so accordingly . For your convenience, visit the nearest petrol station, tyre shop or contact roadside assistance services for help. Check: You might need these tools to start working on your car.

Power Steering Warning Light

What it means: The power steering light often illuminates to indicate a low power steering fluid level. What to do: Begin by opening the bonnet of your vehicle to check your power steering fluid level reservoir, if low, make sure to top it up with the manufacturer recommended fluid brand. If the light remains illuminated after the fluid has been topped up, you might need to take your vehicle to be assessed by a professional.

Anti Lock Braking System (ABS) Warning Light

What it means: (ABS) Anti lock Braking systems, prevents the wheels from locking up that may lead the car to slide during heavy/hard braking. This light illuminates to indicate that there may be an issue with the braking system. What to do: The ABS is one of the most important safety features of a vehicle. It is vital to see a mechanic for proper diagnostics as soon as possible. Check: We also offer affordable diagnostics tools that could help you find out what is wrong with you car 

Brake Warning Light

What it means: Also known as parking warning light. This light illuminates when the parking brake (handbrake) is engaged or when there is loss of hydraulic pressure in one side of the brake system. The light can also stay illuminated when the fluid level in the master cylinder is dangerously low (due to a leak somewhere in the brake system) What to do:  Release your parking brake/handbrake if it is engaged while your vehicle is parked. If the light remains on, then you might need to think of bringing your car to a trusted mechanic. If you are curious enough to know more, you might need to run a diagnosis with the help of an  OBD II Scanner .

Coolant Level Warning Light

What it means: The coolant warning light indicates that the current level of coolant in the reservoir/tank is low (below the recommended level), a reminder that it should be refilled as soon as possible. Poor engine cooling can lead to the engine overheating and causing more serious damage.

Engine Temperature Warning Light

What it means: when the engine temperature light illuminates, it usually means that the engine is overheating. This may be due to a number of things like a failed water pump, a malfunction with the thermostat, or it could be something simple like a low coolant level or even something more serious such as a blown head gasket.

Low Fuel Indicator Light

What it means: Each vehicle tank is kitted with a floating sensor, which helps measure the fuel level. Once it reaches a certain depth, the sensor sends a signal to the vehicle’s computer to alert the driver that they are running low on fuel. What to do: Make a stop to your nearest petrol station for a refill. Don’t push your luck especially when your fuel indicator does not indicate the range you have left. Quick Tip: In most vehicles, you will find a small triangle shape next to the fuel indicator light. That small triangle isn’t there just for aesthetics, it’s there to indicate which side the fuel door is located. A tip to make your life easier when going to the petrol station.

Seatbelt Warning Light

What it means: Car uses a pressure sensor under the seat and seat belt to alert the occupants that they need to fasten their seatbelt. The light will normally illuminate with a dripping sound after starting the car and when the passenger seat is occupied and the seat belt isn’t fastened. Like airbags, they are very essential to  the safety of the driver and passengers. What to do: Always wear your seatbelt, whether you are seated in front or at the back. This will keep you safe in case of a collision and will prevent your body from being ejected out of the car.

Good things don’t always last forever. But hey, you have made it to the end of this article.

You should pat yourself on the back. We hope that this article was informative and has provided you with enough insight on what you need to know and do about the warning lights of your car.

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on our latest product additions and deals.

In need of car parts or tools ?

Whether you are looking for new replacement parts or tools/equipment to work on your vehicle, we provide you with a wide range of high-quality products.

We at autossuply, pride ourselves in the quality of the products we offer as well as our amazing customer service. Be sure to visit to find any car-related products. We got you covered.

Scroll to Top