Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: What Causes Dash Warning Lights to Flash?

asked by on

What causes dash warning lights to flash?

A: There are many dash warning lights on your ...

There are many dash warning lights on your instrument cluster or dashboard. The one that stands out the most is the one that gets the most attention in most cases. These different warning lights come in different colors like red, yellow, amber, green, blue, or other colors a manufacturer wants. The colors red, yellow, and amber are the ones used most for problems in the vehicle. The other colors like blue or green are used for information to tell you something is being used like cruise control or high beam headlights.

Red or yellow is used for problems with the engine, transmission, electronic steering, anti-lock brakes, suspension, or other major systems that may be having a problem. Many people ignore a light coming on if they do not feel any issues with their car’s performance. Some may even put off getting it serviced until having to pass emissions testing. The light that is on is an alert that something is not working as it should, but today’s vehicle systems try to keep the vehicle running as if nothing is having a problem and only turn on the light since a sensor is bad. The car can use a redundant sensor or alternate input to keep the engine running well enough to not exceed exhaust emissions levels. https://www.yourmechanic.com/services/brake-light-is-not-working-inspection

If there is major concern that the problem will cause harmful damage to one of the engine or powertrain components, emission levels to exceed limits, or a safety concern, then the manufacturer will cause the warning light to flash on and off. The yellow Check Engine Light may flash when the engine has a misfire, causing an excessively rich engine that could cause catalyst damage and excessive emission levels. The Low Fuel Light may blink to let you know you are about to run out of fuel. The Airbag Light may flash to let you know there is a problem with the airbag that would keep it from deploying in case of an accident. You may get an Anti-Lock Brake Light that flashes during a self test, then stays on alerting of a problem in the brakes. The list goes on and on. The manufacturer can have any light they deem important to flash when there is a problem. https://www.yourmechanic.com/services/temperature-warning-light-is-on-inspection

The bottom line here is that a light coming on and staying on is a problem that needs to be fixed. The manufacturer makes the light flash so you will take extra notice and get to a safe stop as soon as possible and get the problem looked at now. If you have a light flashing in your car, do not wait to get it looked at and diagnosed.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Dash lights stay on until the car starts running

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...

Q: Doesn't sound like it wants to start

Prior to performing diagnostics be sure you have a fully charged battery that passes a load test. Then, confirm that the engine immobilizer system (security system) is not activated thus preventing the car from starting. Basically, if a fully charged...

Q: 2005 BMW 645Ci only shifts and drives in 1st and 2nd gears

Hello. I would need to check the transmission fluid condition to tell you for sure what is going on. If the fluid is dark or smells burnt then it more than likely needs a transmission. I usually scan the computer...

Related articles

P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the P0052 code means This code is seen when the Engine Control Module (ECM) tries to control the...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
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...