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

Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in New Mexico
The state of New Mexico offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch...
P2159 OBD-II Trouble Code: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2159 P2159 code definition Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance Related Trouble Codes: P2158: Vehicle Speed Sensor B P2160: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Circuit Low P2161:...


Related questions

Q: VDC Off and Slip lights come on and speedometer stops working when driving car while Memoscan U581 is connected for Live Data

The scanner you have, and many other aftermarket scanners and those insurance devices that hook up to the OBD connector, are known to cause various problems that can arise way after the tools are removed. You should clear any codes...

Q: How do I view Gauge mode?

In the Uplevel Message Center, there is a feature called Gauge mode. Gauge mode helpfully shows some of your vehicle's stats as a graphic. To view the options in Gauge mode. Use the Up or Down arrow keys on...

Q: What does the no key warning mean?

The no key warning will show up in your vehicle information display for a couple of different reasons. These are as follows: If the Intelligent Key™ is not recognized when you push the start button. This...