Common warning lights that shouldn’t be ignored and what they mean

As we turn on the ignition, it can be daunting if one of the warning lights comes on and you are unaware of their meaning.

To attempt to make this symbolic translation simpler, we have put together a list of the commonly seen symbols, what they mean and their severity, so that when the time comes, you can be safe in the knowledge that you are making the right decisions for your car.

Brake system/brake fluid warning light

Don’t be alarmed when the brake light illuminates when the handbrake is engaged, as this is standard procedure, however, if illumination persists after the brake is released, it may indicate low brake fluid, which will need checking straight away.

ECU/Engine warning light

If the ECU/engine warning light comes on, it may also be accompanied by some unusual symptoms including; lack of power and intermittent stuttering as you press the accelerator. This may or may not be serious, so it is best to get it checked immediately to avoid possible costly charges and/or further damage and because of that, it is highly recommended that you pull over as soon as is safe to do so.

Airbag warning light

Having a functioning airbag is essential to your safety in and incident, so acting fast when this warning light appears is imperative. It may be that your airbag is in danger of deploying at random, giving you a nasty shock or injury. On the other hand, it may be that it cannot deploy at all. Either way, it needs immediate attention and could prove rather expensive to fix.

Power steering/EPAS warning light

Steering is essential to maneuvering your vehicle, especially at higher motorway speeds when you need to avoid an obstacle or oncoming collision. You may notice abnormally heavy steering making it hard to change direction, which could indicate failure.

DPF/Diesel particulate filter warning light

Modern diesel vehicles are fitted with a particulate filter, which removes harmful soot from the exhaust gasses to reduce emissions. If this fails, you will see a toxic black cloud released every time you press the accelerator. It is recommended that you check this regularly as it can become blocked and expensive to replace.

Coolant warning light

Without a coolant in the system, your engine would get hot and essentially weld itself together. If the gauge reading is well into the red it could mean that your coolant is running low and your engine is running too hot. However, it could also be a sign of a more serious problem such as gasket failure. Therefore it is important to get it fixed as soon as possible.

Oil warning light

Oil lubricates the system by spraying in all corners of the engine, and, if this fails, could mean expensive engine damage. If the light appears then it could be a sign of one of two things; the oil temperature is too high/low, or the oil pressure is too low. The two that result in more severe problems are the latter.

Battery Charge warning light

Like most warning lights, this one will come up when you turn your car on, however, if it doesn’t turn off after that there may be a hitch with the electrical system. It could be down to; a faulty alternator, a faulty battery, a bad connection, or damaged cabling somewhere in the engine bay.

If either it does not illuminate when starting, or illuminates randomly whilst driving, the battery is not being charged, which may indicate a fault in the charging system.

Here at Croyland Car Megastore, we advise that you get into the habit of checking these points regularly so that you prevent/pre-empt any inconvenience.

Good luck!