Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

What Are the Different Codes That Can Light Up on My Dashboard?

dashboard codes

We’ve all been there before. You’re driving along and suddenly, the Check Engine Light flashes on. It might not even be accompanied by any sort of symptom – no spitting, no sputtering, no jerking. What’s going on? Of course, there are other lights that can come on in your dash, as well. They’re all indicators, but they don’t mean the same thing.

Diagnostic trouble codes

Generally, the Check Engine Light means there’s a diagnostic trouble code stored in the car’s computer. The computer has detected some sort of abnormal operation in the engine, transmission or emissions system, and it’s warning you that it needs to be checked out.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different codes that can trigger the Check Engine Light alone, and this doesn’t account for other systems with their own warning lights (TPMS, ABS, battery/alternator, oil, etc.).

While it would be impossible to list all the different codes that might light up on your dash, here is some insight into what different lights might mean.

  • Check Engine Light: The Check Engine Light comes on when the computer notes a problem in the emissions/exhaust system, the transmission or the engine. It could be as simple as a loose or missing gas cap, or something more serious like a failed oxygen sensor or a misfire.

  • TPMS: This light is part of your tire pressure monitoring system. If it comes on and stays on, then you have a tire low on air, or there’s a problem with a sensor or the system.

  • ABS: This light warns you about a problem with your anti-lock braking system. It does not mean that you won’t be able to stop the car, but it does mean that the ABS system may have been disabled.

  • Oil Pressure Light: The Oil Pressure light means that the computer has detected a drop in oil pressure. Your oil might be low, the sending unit might have failed, or the pressure sensor may be bad.

  • Battery: The Battery light means that there’s an issue with your battery or alternator; generally, it’s a sign that your battery’s charge is abnormally low.

  • Coolant Temperature Light: The Coolant Temperature light comes on to warn you that the temperature of your engine coolant is too high and you need to pull over and turn off the engine before it overheats.

  • Brake Light: The Brake light comes on to show the parking brake is engaged, or that the brake fluid is low.

These are just a few of the warning lights on your dash. Some of these systems will store a trouble code, and others will not. The best option is to have a mechanic inspect your car as soon as 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

What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...
P0477 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Pressure Control Valve Low
P0477 code means that the PCM has detected an abnormally low voltage reading often due to the exhaust back pressure control valve circuit.


Related questions

Q: Service Brake System Light beeps on for a minute then turns off

There is a problem with your brakes or the ABS that is turning this light on. A code reader should tell you what specifically is the problem. Most likely, a wheel speed sensor is dirty or has failed. This is...

Q: How do I use the temperature function on the touch screen?

If your vehicle is equipped with a touchscreen, it will include everything you need to use certain functions of your vehicle, including the temperature. To use the temperature function from the touch screen. Press the Up and Down arrows...

Q: Dash guages and ignition key issues.

This is a common issue in this generation of Chevrolet pickups related to the dash not working properly. Many of these were faulty and warrantied or recalled. The vibrating brakes may be caused by uneven or warped brake rotors which...