Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. 5 Most Important Car Dashboard Warning Lights

5 Most Important Car Dashboard Warning Lights

Everything is running great with your car when suddenly – a warning light comes on the dashboard. There are literally dozens of warning and check engine lights on today’s modern cars, each of them with their own meaning and sources. While they will always vary based on each automotive manufacturer, five car dashboard warning light indicators are generic across the board.

These 5 car dashboard warning lights should be considered very serious when they illuminate.

1. Engine Temperature Warning Light

This warning light is intended to alert drivers that the engine temperature has increased past the recommended degree. While it can often indicate the vehicle is overheating, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes this warning light will illuminate if the engine temperature sensor is damaged or not sending accurate data to the ECU. In other instances, it means the coolant temperature is too hot, or the engine is overheating.

What to do if it happens: Since an overheating engine can cause serious damage – from a blown head gasket to damaging internal engine components – you should immediately pull over to a safe location, shut the engine off and contact a towing service to have your vehicle brought back home. This will permit a mobile mechanic to inspect the vehicle to diagnose the light’s cause and recommend the right repairs.

2. Oil Pressure Warning Light

To keep metal moving parts properly lubricated, your engine has a complex oiling system. It depends on maintaining a recommended oil pressure to accomplish this vital task. When there is engine sludge, the oil is dirty or contaminated, or if an oil pump or filter is damaged, it can cause oil pressure problems. If oil pressure falls below the threshold, it will trigger the light.

What to do if it happens: Anytime this warning light comes on, it should be taken very seriously. Like when the engine temperature warning light illuminates, you should pull over to a safe location and turn the car off as soon as possible. Call a tow truck and have the vehicle towed to your home for a further mechanical inspection by a professional.

3. Battery Charging Warning Light

This one is not as serious as overheating or low oil pressure but should be resolved as soon as possible. The battery charge warning light indicates that your car battery is running low on cranking amps or volts. Amps are required to start the car, while volts power headlights, radios, and other accessories when the car is not started. Here is the “yeah but” section: this warning light can also indicate a fault with the charging system, such as a dead alternator or damaged charging wires.

What to do if it happens: When this light comes on, you should drive home without shutting the vehicle off. If the battery is low, it’s likely that your car won’t start again until it’s resolved. Once home, contact a professional mechanic to complete a warning light inspection, which will permit them to isolate the root issue.

4. Brake Warning Light

According to most professional mechanics, this is one of those warning lights that can be 100% avoided. In most situations, when the brake warning light is illuminated, it means the parking brake has been left on. Try verifying that the parking brake is in good shape first to see if it goes away. If it does not, it is possible that you are running low on brake fluid or there is a mechanical issue with the brakes. While replacing brake pads, rotors and calipers as recommended can significantly reduce this issue, it is something that should be taken seriously if it illuminates on the dash.

What to do if it happens: When the brake light is on, check your parking brake first – 80% of the time this will resolve the issue. If it does not, contact a professional mechanic and have them complete a brake warning light inspection before driving further.

5. Check Engine Light

The check engine light has the most possible sources. This will illuminate when the vehicle’s ECU detects a mechanical or electrical fault as picked up by one of the sensors that monitors your engine, transmission and safety systems. It could be as simple as a faulty sensor or a serious problem with internal engine components.

What do to if it happens: Anytime the check engine light is triggered, you should take it seriously. Contact a professional mechanic and have them complete a check engine light inspection, so they can determine why this light is on, and what repairs are needed to fix it. You should not drive the vehicle until this issue has been resolved if at all possible.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

How to Transfer a Car Title in Idaho
In order to prove ownership of a car, you must have the title. However, when a car is sold, given away or inherited, the title needs...
The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Malaysia
CraigBurrows / Shutterstock.com Malaysia is a popular destination for many tourists today. The country has amazing sights and attractions that you will want to explore....
How to Get a Louisiana Driver's Permit
s licensing program. The first step in this program is to obtain...

Related questions

Q: Car cranking problem being a bad fuse box?

Fuse boxes can and do go bad every once in a while. While it is rather rare, it is not unheard of. If there has been any sort of damage in the area, these are more likely to fail. The...

Q: What Kind of Dash Light Bulbs Do Cars Use?

Dash lights use different types of bulbs to illuminate the dash display, warning indicators, and gauges. These bulbs are traditionally a sealed, small element, single filament bulbs of varying sizes depending on the amount of illumination required for the gauge,...

Q: Tail lights and dash lights not working.

I have a good idea of what your problem may be. It is common for the ignition switch to go bad in your particular vehicle. This can lead to many different electrical system issues including your complaints of no dashboard...