Car warning lights

WE have covered this subject before, but, because of the current, financial crisis that many find themselves in, people are looking to save money, wherever possible.

It seems prudent to reiterate how important the warning lights are on your car. From time to time, we all see these lights, but it is amazing how many people  ignore them, only to find that, shortly after, their car stops, won’t start or loses all power. This is often because of the lack of maintenance, or, in some cases, ignoring the warning lights.

As cars have become more and more sophisticated, the number of possible faults that can arise has grown significantly, along with the number of different warning lights that might flash up on the dashboard.

But they needn’t be alarming. With a little help and understanding, you may be able to save yourself money, and avoid potential, severe damage to your car, if you take notice of its warnings.

If a warning light appears (or fails to extinguish after you’ve started the engine), depending on the light you should either stop, or get the error fixed, as soon as possible. If you know what the light means, and act quickly, you could save time and money.

Oil pressure warning light

This light, perhaps the most common and well known, should illuminate when the ignition is switched on, and go out once the engine starts. If the light stays on after starting, or illuminates during a journey, stop immediately, switch off the engine, and check the engine-oil level.

Top up straight away if the level is low. If the warning lamp illuminates, even though the oil level is correct, do not start the engine, and contact your mechanic or garage, immediately. An easy way to do this is to take a photo of your dashboard with the light clearly showing, and send it to your mechanic or garage. Ask for advice as to whether it is safe to continue your journey with caution, or whether the car should be sent to the garage on a grúa.

Battery charge warning light

This light should illuminate when the ignition is switched on, and should go out as soon as the engine starts. If it does not illuminate at all, or if it illuminates while driving, your battery is not being charged, so the most likely problem is that there is a fault with your charging system.

This may be due to one of the following:

  • a loose battery or starter terminals
  • a broken or loose alternator drive belt
  • an alternator failure

If the alternator belt is broken, it must be replaced before you restart the engine. The coolant system may rely on this belt, and its failure could cause the engine to overheat and be damaged.

Move the car, immediately, to a safe location, and turn off the engine. Do not restart the engine until you have sought professional assistance.

Brake system warning light

This light will remain illuminated when the handbrake is in use. Illumination after releasing the handbrake may indicate a low brake-fluid level. You may need to top up the fluid.

As brakes wear, the fluid level will slowly drop, so regular checks are important. If you are not able to check this yourself, go to your garage and ask them to do it for you. This may be free of charge, but it would routinely be done at a service, which is something to bear in mind.

If the brake fluid is too low, and brake pedal travel is distinctly longer than usual, one of the two, hydraulic, brake circuits may have failed. If the light remains illuminated, even though the brake fluid level is correct, this may indicate a sensor fault. Take your car to a dealer or garage that has fault-finding equipment.

Engine warning light

This light illuminates when the ignition is switched on. It should go out as soon as the engine starts. If it illuminates with the engine running, it indicates a malfunction with the engine management system. Have this checked as soon as possible. If the light turns to red, or illuminates in conjunction with the STOP light, stop the vehicle and seek assistance.

ABS warning light

When the ignition is switched on, the light illuminates briefly to confirm that the system is operational. If it illuminates when driving, it indicates a fault. Have this checked. Normal braking (without ABS) will generally be maintained, and many cars will be safe to drive on, but some will not. If in doubt, check with your mechanic, or stop driving the car and have it checked.

Brake system and ABS warning lights

If both warning lights illuminate at the same time when driving, stop the vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so. Reduce vehicle speed gradually, and immediately move the vehicle to a safe position. Use the brakes with great care, and don’t step on the brake pedal, abruptly.



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Posted by on May 4 2018. Filed under Motoring. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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