What Do the Dashboard Lights in Your Car Mean?

The dashboard in your car not only displays a variety of possible states for the machine but also gives you the opportunity to pinpoint exactly what is wrong. They report information about engine, transmission, and other operating conditions to help you maintain the vehicle in good operating condition.

There are various warning car dashboard symbols and meanings on this light that any number of things could cause, and it could very well be serious enough that you need to bring your car in for service. It's hard to know everything about each dashboard lamp; that is why we created this guide to help you understand each lamp meaning. Keep reading to learn what the car warning lights in your car mean.

Check Engine Light

The check engine light is one of the most mysterious dashboard lights simply because its meaning can be wide-ranging. Still, there are some basic things you need to know about it. Usually, this means that there may be a problem with your car engine. You need to have it checked out immediately by a professional mechanic as soon as possible. They will inspect the engine and can test these sensors to help determine if you need any engine repair, but if the light is on, you definitely need this looked at by a professional.

Engine Coolant Temperature Light

The engine coolant temperature is one of your car's most important dashboard lamps. This dash warning lamp will appear if there is a problem with the temperature in your car's engine coolant system, such as either too high or too low. The light can also report a problem with your car's thermostat or coolant level. Do not ignore this light because if not treated, you can risk overheating your engine and causing severe damage.

Transmission Fluid Temperature Light

The transmission fluid temperature is another important light in your car that reflects on the health of your transmission. This problem could cause some serious trouble if not taken seriously, so it is a good idea to have the transmission checked out by a mechanic. If the system is leaking or excessively hot, this light can indicate an issue with your car's transmission, and you may end up having to repair it sooner than you would have liked.

Engine Oil Pressure Light

The engine oil pressure is a light in the dashboard which relates to the speed of your car's engine oil pump when it flows through your engine. These car light meanings can indicate this problem is serious because the pump can cease to work and will prevent your car from starting. As with the transmission fluid lamp, you need to fix this problem as soon as possible.

Engine Oil Change Light

The engine oil change light is a light that alerts you that your car's oil has reached its full life and needs to be changed at the earliest opportunity. It also occurs if your vehicle has reached its maximum mileage for the recommended change date, which means this should be done within two years of the first fill-up. You need to know about this problem because if it is left without being addressed, you risk engine problems and a lot of money in repairs.

Battery Warning Light

The car battery warning light is a light on your dashboard that tells you the voltage of your car battery. If the voltage is not at its peak when this lamp is on, you will need to take care of this problem in no time. Having a low battery can cause your engine to stall, and it can lead to other problems as well. Be sure that the engine is never running while you are working on changing the battery because otherwise, you run the risk of damaging some important components in your car.

Tire Pressure Warning Light

The tire pressure warning light is a problem with one of your tires which likely means it's under-inflated. Under-inflated tires can lead to problems like blowouts and an increased risk of accidents. Make sure you check the pressure of your car's tires as soon as possible if this light appears because it could be a safety hazard.

Reduced Engine Power Light

The reduced engine power is a warning lamp that indicates one of your car's important internal components is not working correctly and will likely cause serious problems down the road if not corrected. If your cooling system, engine sensors, or fuel supply instruments fail, you will see this light come on. You need to take this problem seriously because without these parts working correctly, the rest of your engine could be significantly damaged and leave you with bills in the thousands to repair it.

Brake Warning Light

The car brake warning light is a dashboard lamp that warns you that one of your car's brakes is not working properly and that you should take it to the mechanic immediately. This light usually appears when the brakes are faulty or have become overheated, which can be caused by inadequate repairs. Check your brakes as soon as possible if this light comes on because they could have a serious problem. This light also may indicate that your parking brake is engaged.

ABS Warning Light

The anti-lock braking system (ABS) warning light is a dashboard lamp that indicates a problem with your car's anti-lock braking system. This could very well be the result of an issue with the wheel speed sensors and needing a replacement for proper use again. The light is also can appear when your car's anti-lock braking system malfunctions. Brakes are important because they allow you to stop your vehicle safely; if the brakes fail, you may need to call a mechanic immediately.

Traction Control Warning Light

The traction control light is an important dashboard lamp that indicates you need to check your car's traction control system. This light will come on if the tires are slipping and not gripping properly. This problem can be quite dangerous as it is usually caused by a worn tire or a problem with the tire pressure and could cause serious accidents.

Stability Control Warning Light

The stability control warning light is a dashboard lamp that indicates the stability control system is not working correctly. Check your car's tires, alignment, and suspension components if this light comes on, as these problems can cause your vehicle to become unstable and unsafe to drive. Your car's stability control helps you maintain stability while you are driving by keeping your tires grounded. Without this feature, you could easily lose control of your car and be in serious danger of an accident.

Power Steering Warning Light

The power steering warning light is a dashboard lamp that indicates a problem with your car's power steering. Worn components can cause this, so take it to a mechanic as soon as possible if this problem comes on. More than likely, the light will turn on because one of your car's wheels are not aligned properly and will not spin properly. You should also be aware of this problem because it can cause serious problems when left ignored for too long.

Airbag Warning Light

If the airbag warning is on, this means that there is a problem with the airbag system in your car. Airbags work to save you from serious injury or death if you are involved in a collision. The warning light indicates a problem with your car's airbags, and if something needs to be fixed, then it needs to be done right away so that you will get the safety benefit of these devices.

Seatbelt Warning Light

The seatbelt warning lights on the dashboard are an important part of your vehicle's dashboard since they indicate possible danger during an accident. If you do not use your seatbelt correctly, you could collapse in the event of a collision, causing serious injury if not fatal. If your car has the seatbelt light on and you are found to be not wearing a seatbelt, it is important that you take action right away and get a car inspection done so that they can check out your belt properly.

Low Fuel Warning Light

This warning light tells you that your car's fuel level is low, and you will need to refuel your vehicle. This is a very serious problem, especially if you're on a highway and have no opportunity to refuel. You should pay attention to this dashboard light so that you can take care of it right away. This is a very urgent issue, so make sure that you fill up your tank with gas as soon as possible.

Washer Fluid Warning Light

If you see the washer fluid light on, this indicates a low level of washer fluid. It isn't a problem until it gets to a certain point, so make sure that you check it and fill it up when necessary.

Engine Start-Stop Light

The engine start-stop is another car dashboard lamp that indicates a problem with your start-stop system. This system helps to save fuel while driving in cities with high traffic. If this light comes on in your vehicle, you will need to take it for service immediately. If ignored, it can cause serious problems and even cause other warning lights to appear in order to protect you during a serious accident.

Security Light

If you see the security light flashing, you should know there is an issue with your car's alarm system. It could be a serious problem that needs to be fixed immediately as a safety precaution. If there is no problem with your car's panic button, then it is safe to assume that this light on the dashboard is an indication of a security issue. Either way, it is best to have the alarm service checked out to get the results.

Glow Plug Light

If you see the glow plug light, it is an indication that the engine's glow plugs are not working or working badly. To figure out if the issue is serious or not, you should get to a mechanic right away to have your car analyzed. If the problem is not severe and there is no danger of engine damage, then consider having your mechanic replace the parts or clean them if they need cleaning.

DPF Light

This is one of the more serious car warning lights and involves the Diesel Particulate Filter. This filter helps to reduce the amount of harmful particles that your car's engine inhales. The DPF has a sensor on it, so if this light is on, you will need to have that sensor checked out first before you go to have your car repaired. It may be possible to repair it, but you should still take care of this issue while you can.

DEF Light

This is one of the most serious car warning lights and involves Defective Emission Control Light. If your car has a DEF light on, it indicates a problem with your vehicle's emission control system. Many people think this is a normal part of the engine life cycle, but this is often not the case. There are many things that can go wrong with the system and cause damage to it. These parts need to be replaced immediately after you notice the light coming on.

Cruise Control Light

If you see the cruise control light on in your car, it means that there is an issue with your cruise control. This can happen if you have a broken cable or the sensor malfunctioning. Sometimes the cruise control buttons on the car can be tripped as well, so make sure that you check them to see if they are damaged or not when this light comes on.

Adaptive Cruise Control Light

This car warning light is similar to the Cruise Control light, and it indicates that there is an issue with your adaptive cruise control. If you see the ACC light on when this occurs, it indicates that there is a problem with your adaptive cruise control system. Your car may be unable to drive itself, even though your cruise control will try to keep you at the right speed.

Forward Collision Warning Light

If you see the forward collision warning light on, this indicates that your car's front end is in danger of hitting another vehicle. The problem could be with the sensor or camera, or it could be with the electric motor. If your car is not in a crash at that moment, then it is safe to assume that there is no issue with your vehicle, but you should still reach out to a mechanic to have them check it out.

Lane Departure Warning Light

If you see this light on, then it means that your car is experiencing a problem with the lane departure warning system. This can be a serious problem if it happens while you are driving in heavy traffic or on the highway. It may be necessary to use your turn signals in order to safely maneuver around a vehicle or something else that is in the way.

Parking Assist Light

This vehicle warning light indicates an issue with your car's parking assist system. If you see this car light coming on, then it means that the sensors are malfunctioning and not working well. You will need to have the engine's sensors replaced, and then you will need to check the wiring to make sure that they are not damaged.

Blind Spot Monitoring Light

If you see the blind spot monitoring light, it means that there is a problem with your car's blind-spot warning system. It is highly recommended that you get this checked out as soon as possible because it can be dangerous to drive any further if there is a problem with the sensor.

Drowsiness Monitoring Light

If you see the drowsiness monitoring light on, it means that the sensors are detecting that you are drowsy while driving. It is best to pull over and take a break if you see this issue occurring.

The Bottom Line

Getting a newer car is always a good idea if you can afford it, but the older cars that you own can still be safe to drive. The most important thing is to keep your vehicle in good working order and have the lights checked out regularly. It's also important to have your car serviced properly to fix any issues immediately.


The best way to avoid and deal with these issues is to ensure good maintenance of your vehicle. Keep up with regular oil changes and other scheduled maintenance, and take it in when something seems off.

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