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Q: What lights are present on the instrument panel?

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What lights are present on the instrument panel?

A: The vehicle is equipped with a number light...

The vehicle is equipped with a number lights on the instrument panel, located in the dashboard behind the steering wheel. These relate information to the driver. Standard things like speed and fuel level are simple enough, but there are a number of different features that can tell you everything you need to know about your truck. Here is a list of the various lights and gauges present in the instrument panel:

  • There are two lights on the instrument panel that resemble a person sitting in a seat with a seat belt stretched across them. One of the lights indicate when the driver is not wearing their seat belt, meant to remind the driver to buckle up. The other light, the same symbol but with a ‘2’ next to it, indicates whether or not the passenger is wearing their seat belt.

  • A light that resembles a person sitting in a seat with a circle in front of them is the airbag readiness indicator light. This light only illuminates for a second or two before turning off again. If the light stays on, it means there is an electrical issue that may prevent the airbags from working in a crash.

  • A light resembling a battery, with ‘+’ and ‘-’ marked on it. This light comes on after the key is put in the ignition and before the engine is started. If this light stays or illuminates while the engine is running, then there may be a problem with the battery alternator, or wiring.

  • A light resembling an engine is called the Check Engine light. This light is pivotal to the on-board diagnostic system, which is responsible for monitoring the condition of parts throughout the drivetrain via a network of sensors in order to maintain adequate emissions. This light can either illuminate or flash to show different warnings.

  • A solid light indicates that there is some problem with the emissions. This could be something minor, like a loose gas cap or the wrong octane fuel.

  • A flashing light is more serious. This indicates a misfire or other issue causing a significant increase in emissions gases.

  • There is a light on the instrument panel that resembles a circle with an exclamation point inside of it and parentheses on either side. The light will also have ‘brake’ written by it. This light indicates that the parking brake is engaged, but can also indicate when there is low brake fluid level or insufficient pressure in the brake system. If this light comes on while the vehicles is in motion, it indicates that the driver should park the truck as soon as possible.

  • Similar to the brake warning light, there is a light resembling a circle with parentheses on either side of it with ‘ABS’ written in the circle. This light illuminates for a few seconds when the engine is started to tell the driver that the ABS system is working properly. This light is only present only on trucks equipped with ABS.

  • All models of the vehicle that are equipped with four wheel drive will have a light on the instrument panel that resembles four wheels connected by black lines representing the axles and driveshaft. There are circles between the wheels representing the differentials. This light illuminates when the transfer case is manually shifted into four wheel drive mode.

  • A light resembling an empty trailer on wheels is the tow mode light. This indicates when the truck is set to the ‘tow’ mode.

  • A light that looks like a car above squiggly lines with ‘off’ written underneath is the Stabilitrak off light. The Stabilitrak system is a type of traction control system, useful in slippery conditions. The Stabilitrak off light illuminates briefly when the engine is first started before turning off again. It also lights up whenever the Stabilitrak system is manually turned off.

  • Similar to the light mentioned above, the Stabilitrak light is identical except for the fact that ‘off’ is not written beneath it. This light also comes on briefly when the engine is started and turns off after a couple of seconds. The light may also flash when driving, indicating that the Stabilitrak system has taken over throttle control, limiting power to the wheels so that they can maintain traction.

  • The tire pressure light looks like a deflated tire with an exclamation point inside of it. This light comes on momentarily when the engine is started and then turns off right after. If the light stays on or come on while driving, it means the tire pressure is lower than it should be. If the light flashes, it is indicating that there is a problem with the tire pressure monitoring system itself.

  • The light that resembles an oil canister with oil dripping from it is the oil pressure light. While there is a gauge that monitors oil pressure, the oil pressure light is still necessary to warn of a serious situation with either the oil level or amount of oil pressure. It comes on briefly when the engine is started and then turns off to indicate there is no problem with the oil pressure.

  • The light that resembles a fuel pump is there to notify the driver if the fuel level has dropped to a concerning level. It will also make a sound when it comes on.

  • A light resembling a car with a large lock on it is called the security system light. This light will briefly come on when the engine is started. If the light illuminates or flashes, it indicates that the security system is arming while a door is open.

  • A symbol that looks like a lamp emitting light warns the driver that the high-beam lamps are on.

  • The same symbol, except with a vertical line cutting through the lines representing the light being emitted, indicates that the fog lights are on.

  • A light that looks like a speedometer with an arrow pointing to the needle is there to alert the driver when the cruise control is on.


Most warning lights exist to prevent the driver from forgetting important things like seat belts or high-beams, but some indicate that the vehicle should be shut off to avoid damage.

Do not let the Check Engine light stay on for too long, as emissions controlling systems may not function properly.

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