Your vehicle is equipped with numerous warning lights to alert you when your vehicle is in need of attention. These lights vary in importance: some let you know that your vehicle is in danger, while others let you know that you’ll need a minor service soon. Each light should be taken seriously and never ignored.
Your warning lights appear on your dashboard gauge cluster, next to your speedometer and fuel gauge. When you first turn your vehicle on, you’ll notice that all of these lights illuminate for a few seconds, and then disappear. This is your vehicle checking to make sure that all systems are operational and that all the warning lights can illuminate if needed.
Common reasons for this to happen:
ABS warning light: The ABS warning light is usually just the letters “ABS.” ABS stands for anti-lock braking system, and is responsible for keeping your wheels from locking up when you brake hard. If the ABS light is on, your vehicle will be liable to skidding when you brake hard.
Airbag failure light: The airbag failure light is a symbol of an airbag, or the writing “airbag” or “SRS”. This alert tells you that your airbags are not functioning correctly, and won’t be deployed in the event of an accident.
Battery warning: The battery warning light is usually a symbol of the battery. This warning alerts you to the fact that your battery is not charging fully. This could be an issue with your battery’s terminal or corrosion, or with your alternator.
Brake system warning: The brake system warning light is an exclamation point with a circle around it. It alerts you that your brake system is at risk of malfunction, and low brake fluid or leaky brakes may be the cause. This is a light requiring urgent attention.
Check Engine/Service Engine Soon: The check engine warning light is usually a symbol of an engine, but it can sometimes say “check engine.” Your Check Engine light will come on when the engine computer, which handles diagnostics, reports that something is not operating correctly.
Gas cap warning: The gas cap warning light is a symbol of the gas cap, and means that your cap is either damaged or not properly secured.
Light out warning: The light out warning light is a symbol of a turned on light. This alert lets you know that one of your vehicle’s lights is not turning on.
Low washer fluid warning: The washer fluid warning light is a symbol of the windshield wipers. This alert warns you that you are low our out of windshield washer fluid.
Oil change warning: The oil change warning light will say “oil change reminder” or “change oil soon." This alert tells you that it’s been a long time since your last oil change, and that the oil needs to be drained and replaced before damage occurs to the engine.
Oil pressure warning: The oil pressure warning light usually resembles a can of oil. It lets you know that your oil levels are low. This often means that you have insufficient oil in your vehicle, but you could have a defective pump or pressure sensor.
Reduced power warning: The reduced power warning light is a symbol of the engine with an arrow pointing down. It lets you know that the engine is not able to produce as much power as it normally does.
Temperature warning: The temperature warning light is usually a symbol of a thermometer, or the word “temp.” This warning alerts you when your cooling system is failing and the vehicle is overheating. This could be due to low coolant levels, a bad radiator cap, or a malfunctioning fan, among other things.
Tire pressure warning: The tire pressure warning light is an exclamation point surrounded by a horseshoe-like shape. Sometimes it also says TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system). This is to let you know that the pressure in one or more of your tires is low. This could mean you have a leak in the tire, or you may just have naturally lost pressure.
Traction control warning: The traction control warning light is a symbol of a vehicle swerving, an exclamation point with a triangle around it, or any combination of letters: TCS (traction control system), ESC (electronic stability control), ESP (electronic stability program), or DSC (dynamic stability control). The traction control system is responsible for helping your vehicle drive safely in adverse road conditions. Through sensors in the wheels, the system notices when one or more of your wheels is not making solid contact with the road, such as when you drive over ice or a large puddle. The vehicle then shifts the power to the wheels that still have full contact. This warning light means that the system is not operating correctly (in some cases this light comes on to let you know when the system is currently in use, so it’s smart to consult your owner’s manual).
Transmission temperature warning: The transmission temperature warning light looks similar to the temperature light, but with a gear around it. It alerts you that the transmission temperature is high, which is usually due to low transmission fluid or engine coolant.
Usage warnings: Your dashboard cluster also has a handful of warning lights reminding you of certain systems that you may be using. For instance, there is a light for when your overdrive is turned off, when your fog lamps or bright headlights are on, and for when you turn off systems such as your ABS or your airbags. There are also lights reminding you that your door or trunk is open. These lights all have corresponding symbols that are an image of what they represent.
What to expect:
A top-rated mobile mechanic will come to your home or office to determine the source and cause of the warning light, and will then provide a detailed inspection report that includes the scope and cost of the necessary repairs.
How it's done:
The mechanic will examine which warning light is illuminated, so that they know what is wrong with your vehicle. With certain problems, such as electrical ones, the mechanic will use a scan tool to diagnose the issue. Other issues may require a visual inspection.
How important is this service?
Different warning lights represent different levels of severity. For instance, it’s very unsafe to continue driving your vehicle if it is overheating and the temperature warning light is on. Driving with low washer fluid, however, is unlikely to cause any damage to your vehicle.