What’s happening? Is the vehicle warning you of an impending doom, or is it just a gentle reminder and nudge for car maintenance? Is it something you can address yourself, or do you need to hire a professional? Should you pull over immediately, or can you keep driving?
Sure, the dashboard warning lights are not as exciting as shopping for hours with your friends. But, they are actually rather essential to the overall function of your vehicle and performance. While repairs can be pricey, disregarding dashboard warning lights can cause even more expensive long-term damage to your car. More importantly, you could be endangering both yourself and others on the road. So, if you see one of these warning lights on your dashboard, don’t ignore it.
Not to fear, the good news is that you can be a responsible car owner. Simply take a few steps to train yourself to be proactive when it comes to your vehicles needs and most importantly your safety. A good place to start is by skimming through your cars owners’ manual, AKA the vehicle manufactures bible! You can simply go to the very back to that silly page called the Index guide and look up warning lights…WOW, there it is!!
It’s imperative that car owners take their limitations and turn them into innovations by empowering themselves with the truth. It’s easy to hear the truth, the question is, did you understand it?
Now sit back and continue sipping your yummy drink as I share with you some quick references on what these dashboard warning lights mean and what you should to.
The anti-lock braking system (ABS) in your car keeps the tires in contact with the road and prevents skidding. If this indicator turns on, your brakes will still function but the ABS might not engage if you need to make an emergency stop.
What to do: Have a technician diagnose the problem soon. If the ABS light and the brake light are on at the same time, however, pull over immediately, as it’s no longer safe to drive.
CHECK ENGINE LIGHT
Known as the most misunderstood indicator on your car dashboard, it could mean several things, from a loose gas cap to a misfiring engine. If it’s blinking or turning from yellow to red, that typically signifies a more severe issue.
What to do: To confirm the issue, you should get your vehicle checked by an experienced auto repair shop as soon as possible. Yes, your local parts store will read you the code for FREE, but that is not diagnosing it! The vehicle has over 30,000 parts to it and so many components working together. Simply getting the code doesn’t always tell you exactly what the problem is. It could put you in the general area of the malfunction, but further diagnosis is often required
BATTERY CHARGE WARNING
The battery powers everything electrical in a vehicle, from the headlights to the dashboard light itself. When this light comes on, it means something in the recharging system failed. It could be a corroded battery cable, or a problem with the alternator or voltage regulator.
What to do: Shut off as many electrical accessories as you can, such as the stereo, air conditioner or heater, and get to the auto mechanic soon to figure out the exact problem.
OIL PRESSURE WARNING
This light could be trying to tell you that your car is low on oil, your oil pump or pressure gauge is faulty, or that something is seriously wrong with the engine.
What to do: Pull over immediately and turn off your engine. If the oil doesn’t need to be topped off, take the car to an auto mechanic as soon as possible.
TIRE PRESSURE MONITORING SYSTEM (TPMS)
It’s possible at least one of your tires is under inflated. If the TPMS light turns back off, it could have been in response to a change in temperature outside.
What to do: Drive to a gas station and check the tire pressure with a gauge. The recommended pressure level should be on the driver’s doorjamb. Add air to the low tire(s) as needed and make sure to check your spare. Some newer vehicles have a spare tires with the sensor as well and may require air.
ENGINE TEMPERATURE WARNING
A faulty cooling system triggers this light, letting you know that your engine is overheating. This could be due to a coolant leak from a broken hose.
What to do: Pull over and turn your heater on to help reduce engine overheating and let it completely cool down. Add coolant and have it towed to your repair facility. If you attempt to drive it, the problem hasn’t solved itself. risking to drive it may cause serious damage. Towing it will cost less then damaging your engine.
BRAKE WARNING LIGHT
This alert could mean that your parking brake is on, your brake fluid is low, your brake light bulbs need to be replaced, or in certain cars, that there’s a problem with your anti-lock braking system (if your car doesn’t have a separate ABS light).
What to do: Check your parking brake and your brake lights first. If the brake warning light stays on, take your car to an auto mechanic to determine if your brake fluid needs to be refilled or flushed, or if your brakes need repair.
The key to being proactive is to find a repair facility before any issues arise. Find a repair shop is you can build and trusting relationship based on honest and open dialogue. The worst thing you can do is pop into the most convenient shop and be subjected to getting taken advantage of based on your emergency and or desperation. It would make more sense to be able to call the repair facility you have a trusting relationship with and simply asking, do i need to worry about this and can i come in for you to look at it?
WHEN VALUE IS CLEAR, DECISIONS ARE EASY