What Does the Lane Departure Warning Light Mean?

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Auto manufacturers are always creating new ways to keep the driver and passengers safe. One of the newer technologies to emerge is the Lane Departure Warning System. This system typically uses a forward facing camera that can identify the lane lines on the road as you are driving. If the computer notices you moving to one side without a turn signal, it will alert the driver with a light, sound, vibration, or combination of the three.

Auto makers have taken this safety system one step further with Lane Keeping Assist. Lane Keeping Assist has the same functions as Lane Departure, however, if the system doesn't see the driver take action, it can manipulate the steering to keep the car within the lane. It may seem scary that the computer can change the direction of the vehicle, but it can always be overridden by the driver.

What the lane departure warning light means

As you drive along, the camera is constantly watching for lines on the road. If you start drifting to one side without an active turn signal, the computer can detect this movement through the camera and will provide a warning. At the very least, the light on the dashboard will illuminate and will usually show the side you are drifting to. Many Lane Keeping Assist systems also have additional cues such as vibrations in the steering wheel or a chime sound. Make sure you understand how your particular system works so you know what cues to look out for. Once you have corrected your steering and are centered in the lane again, the light should turn off.

As mentioned earlier, some systems are able to take action and move the car automatically. The Lane Keeping Assist will only activate if the computer doesn’t see the driver react to the departure warning, and if they continue to drift out of the lane. Depending on the system, the computer can apply the brakes on one side of the car or manipulate the steering slightly to re-center the vehicle. In either case, the driver is able to override those actions if they so choose. Both the Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist systems will be disabled if the driver has a turn signal activated.

Is it safe to drive with the lane departure warning sign on?

Hopefully this light remains unlit for most of your journeys. If you notice the light illuminate, be sure to slowly adjust your position back to the center of the lane. Do not overcorrect or you’ll likely end up in an even worse situation.

These systems are there assist you, but you should never rely on them 100%. Anything that prevents the camera from clearly seeing road lines will also prevent the system from working. This includes snow or leaves on the ground, unmarked roads, or even roads that have old, faded lane markers. In these situations, the computer will not able to warn you of any drifting in the lane. If this light keeps coming on and you’ve been driving for a while, take it as a sign to pull over and take a break for a while. Driving for extended hours can be fatiguing so taking that 10 minute break to get some coffee or stretch your legs will likely save you.

If your lane departure system doesn’t appear to be working properly, our certified technicians are always available to help you diagnose any issues.


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Matthew

32 years of experience
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Matthew
32 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala - Warning Light is on - Norfolk, Virginia
First off he was on time....actually 30 mins early which was great. Everything he described was what I was going through and he knew exactly what I needed before he even looked at the car. Other mechanics i feel were trying to take advantage because I am a woman but he made me feel comfortable. Still have to get work done on it but at least I know exactly what the problem was.
Chevrolet Tahoe - Warning Light is on - Norfolk, Virginia
Very detailed and takes the time to explain what is being done. Willing to answer any questions you may have. I would definitely use his services again and have already been telling my coworkers about this site. I have a unique electrical situation going on with my truck that none of the dealers could assess. Just by Matt doing some general maintenance , my truck is already driving smoother. Matt asked that I monitor things to make sure we don't need to troubleshoot anything else. I feel quite confident.

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18 years of experience
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18 years of experience
Volkswagen Tiguan - Warning Light is on - Nottingham, Maryland
Quentin was very professional and meticulous with locating the issues with my car. Great spirit and explained and answered all of my questions.

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Mercedes-Benz C230 - Warning Light is on - Charlotte, North Carolina
Travis came out to determine cause for the Check Engine light. He did so and told me what needed to be done and the cost.

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8 years of experience
Suzuki Grand Vitara - Warning Light is on - Durham, North Carolina
I won't go into details about the actual work performed - the result was completely satisfactory. Juan is knowledgeable about how these computerized engines work . He's very personable, polite, patient with my questions, and when I need service again, I'll request Juan. He put in more time than originally scheduled and seems to want to see things through and honest enough to tell you if the job is beyond his expertise and suggests taking car to dealer for more extensive diagnostic tests. I am well pleased.

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