A car repair warranty (also known as an extended car warranty) helps you extend the life of your car by covering the costs of repairs as soon as they come up.
Your car’s dashboard warning lights serve as indicators of problems happening with your car — from running low on oil to bigger, more complicated repairs. If you have car repair coverage, head over to the nearest repair shop and have it checked out. In the meantime, you should also turn to your owner’s manual to see what the specific lights of your car make and model can indicate.
Below we’ll go through 8 of the most common dashboard warning lights and what the problem could be.
What are the dashboard warning lights on your car?
Your dashboard warning lights serve as messages from your car’s computer about what’s going on with your car. They may come in different colors and have different icons depending on your car make.
These lights are essential to helping you identify any problem. Whether they require immediate repairs or just a quick check under the hood, you shouldn’t treat them lightly and disregard them until your next car maintenance appointment or next smog check.
Never ignore your dashboard warning lights.
1. Dashboard warning light: Oil pressure
Your engine needs oil. It won’t function properly (eg. seize up) if the oil pressure is low or it’s low on oil. When warning signs are ignored about oil problems, it can actually cause severe damage to the engine block over time.
If the oil pressure light comes on, which is a light in the shape of an old fashioned oil can, you shouldn’t continue driving. You should turn off the engine, let your car cool and check the oil level. If it’s low, add more motor oil. If the light stays on, take the car to the nearest repair shop.
2. Dashboard warning light: Tire pressure
The tire pressure light (also known as the TPMS symbol) is normally an icon of two-thirds of a circle with an exclamation point inside. Sometimes there are lines at the bottom that symbolize the tire tread.
It’s super important to drive with the correct tire pressure to avoid various problems due to under or over-inflation. If the light comes on, check your tire pressure and make sure that all tires have the adequate PSI (pounds per square inch) for your car. This can be found on the sticker on the driver’s side door jamb.
If the tires are all filled properly but the warning light is still on, one or more of the tires may be damaged and causing a leak.
3. Dashboard warning light: Check engine light
The check engine light can be yellow or orange and features an icon of an engine. If the check engine light is flashing, the service engine is less urgent. If it stays on, it means something needs more immediate attention.
The light can indicate a wide variety of issues that are wrong with your engine or powertrain. When the check engine light comes on, the engine computer stores a code. This is called a Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC). Here is what the code represents:
Read our recent blog about check engine light repairs covered with an extended car warranty.
4. Dashboard warning light: Anti-lock braking system
If the Anti-lock braking system (ABS) light stays on, it’s a sign that something has malfunctioned and the anti-lock system has been deactivated.
Though your brakes may continue working fine, the ABS stops your wheels from locking up when you brake, thus helping you keep braking and steering control at all times. Some reasons why the light is on may be:
- Low brake fluid
- A faulty speed sensor
- A worn hydraulic pump
5. Dashboard warning light: Traction control
The icon of the traction control light is usually that of a car on a curvy or winding road. If the system is activated, your traction and stability control light will be on to let you know that they’re working properly (especially on a rainy or snowy day).
However, when the light turns on at moderate speeds on a dry surface there may be something wrong with the system you will want to check out.
6. Dashboard warning light: Engine temperature
The icon of a thermometer with some waves below it, when lit up, will indicate that your engine is overheating. This may have something to do with your engine being low on coolant (also referred to as antifreeze) or an overall problem with your cooling system.
If you’re driving and this light turns on, you should turn off your AC, the radio, phone chargers, etc. You should then pull over, let your car cool off and check your coolant. An engine that continues to overheat can lead to engine damage, so be sure to take your car to a repair shop to see what the issue is.
7. Dashboard warning light: Battery
One of the most straightforward dashboard symbols, the battery warning light is not necessarily about the charge of your battery. A better indicator of your actual battery losing charge are dimming headlights or a fading clock. It’s quite possible for your car to continue to start without a problem.
This light is better at letting you know that there may be problems with loose or damaged cables, your alternator belt and other electrical components.
8. Dashboard warning light: Transmission
Cars that were produced before 2012 may not have this warning light, but it’s standard on newer automatic transmission vehicles.
When your transmission fluid is hotter than what it should be, the transmission light (normally a thermometer inside a spiked circle) will appear. You may also have malfunctioning sensors causing false readings.
Get this checked out as soon as possible. Transmissions are one of the most expensive repairs (around $3,800 to replace).
Take your car in to your nearest repair shop with Vehicle Repair Protection
Purchasing an extended car warranty is a great option to cover the cost of repairs that your dashboard warning lights indicate. Vehicle Repair Protection not only covers your repairs but also gives you the freedom to take your car in to any repair shop of choice anytime. It’s comprehensive repair coverage that’s low-cost and worry-free.
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