Q: Dash lights stay on until the car starts running

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My car has gone around 50,000 miles on it and has several problems. The minor one is that the hood cabin lights don't work. Also, the dashboard shows three lights illuminated--the check engine, battery charge and the oil pressure light. These lights come off when I'm driving. However, when I put the key into ignition and when the vehicle is not in motion, the lights system comes on and off but these lights remain. After I start the engine and drive, they disappear. Why are these lights coming on?

Hi! We will be happy to assist you. The hood light not working is likely due due to a bad bulb or a loose wire.

There are a few things I recommend that a technician inspect to find as to why your lights come and go.

Firstly, your oil: it’s likely that your light comes on because the oil is low. There is reservoir which holds the oil under the engine with an oil level sending unit about halfway down the pan. This sensor will let you know if the oil is low, when the oil reaches below the sensor level.

When the vehicle is stopped the oil will settle to the bottom of the reservoir, this is the only way the vehicle gets an accurate reading. When the vehicle is moving oil will splash on the sensor and the sensor will be tricked into thinking the oil level is at acceptable measurements.

Secondly, your battery charge light may be due to one or both of two things: the alternator and the alternator belt. The voltage regulator in your alternator may be going bad and supplying incorrect voltage. If that is the case, a new alternator will be required.

Before condemning the alternator, be sure to check the condition of the belt. The alternator takes rotational movement and produces voltage. The rotation is belt driven. If the belt is cracked or stretched the alternator may not reach a speed fast enough to produce a proper voltage.

The Check Engine Light may also be alternator related. I’d suggest to have your vehicle checked out by a qualified technician who can properly diagnose your warning lights using a scan tool to retrieve the code and determine the necessary actions. A convenient and feasible way to have the vehicle inspected by a technician is through YourMechanic. Good luck!

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