Dashboard Warning Lights Explained

22 June 2016 / Lindleys Autocentres

Keeping an eye on your vehicle’s warning lights is essential to the safety and wellbeing of your car. Even though it’s something every driver hates to see, warning lights are designed to alert you when there’s a fault with your vehicle and can often save you from some very expensive damage.

Whilst this may be, many drivers don’t fully understand what each symbol means and what to do if they appear. If this sounds like you, carry on reading.

The meaning of dashboard warning lights

Red or Amber - what’s the difference?

Red - If a red warning light appears on your dashboard, this is a signal that you should stop the vehicle immediately (where safe) as there is a potential serious fault with your vehicle.

Amber - If an amber warning light appears on your dashboard, there is no need to stop the vehicle immediately. An amber light gives the indication that there is something wrong, but is ok to carry on with use until it can be investigated by a mechanic via a car service.


Engine Oil Pressure warning light Engine Oil Pressure

If your vehicle is displaying this sign, it means that your engine’s oil pressure is low. Pull over once safe and proceed to check your oil levels - follow your vehicle’s handbook instructions if necessary.

Most cars have a dipstick to check your oil levels, however, some more modern cars use electronic equivalents. If your oil level is low, it needs topping up as soon as possible. Allowing your vehicle to keep running with little to no oil can result in engine damage which can be very expensive to fix.


seat belt / air bag warning light Seat Belt & Airbag

This warning sign indicates that there is a fault with your airbags. This can be very dangerous, as it might not deploy as it should in the case of an accident, or could even deploy unpredictably!

This warning sign can also indicate that there is a problem with the vehicle’s seat belts. Most cars have seat belts that are designed to pull you into the seat in the event of a collision, but this can malfunction. If this light appears on your dashboard, for your own safety, take your car to the nearest car garage.


Engine Cooling warning light Engine Cooling

This warning sign indicates that your vehicle is lacking the correct amount of coolant fluid in your car’s radiator, or that there is a blockage / system malfunction that is causing the temperature to rise. If this warning light appears, ensure to stop the vehicle once safe and contact your car’s dealer or manufacturer.

Do not under any circumstances open the coolant bottle from under the bonnet whilst your car’s engine is still hot. This will almost certainly result in burning or scalding yourself.


Power Steering warning light Power Steering

If this warning sign is showing then your vehicle’s power steering system has some sort of fault. With this sign, unlike the other red warning signs, you can actually continue with your journey if you choose too. If you do decide to continue on your travels, it is essential to be extra careful whilst driving and have the power steering checked by a professional as soon as you can.

Your may notice that your steering is fine when travelling at speed, but when slowing down it becomes very difficult to turn.


Ignition switch warning light Ignition Switch

This warning sign can either show in amber or red, depending on how serious the problem is with your vehicle’s ignition switch. Even though your car may not be showing any clear sign of having any issues, if you see this light on your dashboard you should have it checked out by a professional.


Brake System Warning Light Brake System

If this warning light appears on your dashboard, and you haven’t accidentally left the handbrake on, stop your vehicle as soon as possible and get in contact with your vehicle’s dealer or manufacturer.

Any issues regarding your vehicle’s brakes could be extremely dangerous to it’s important to get this checked out as soon as possible.


Battery System Battery System

Seeing this warning light usually means that your car’s battery isn’t being charged. Once this light appears, turn off all unnecessary electrical systems (sound system, air conditioning etc.) and take your vehicle to be checked by a professional.

If this warning light appears, but in yellow instead of red, it means that your car’s battery is running low and should be looked in to.


Steering lock warning light Steering Lock

Seeing this symbol on your dashboard means that there is an issue with your steering. Try not to turn off your engine, as it could prevent you from starting the vehicle back up, and take your car to the closest autocentre.


Tyre Pressure Monitoring warning light Tyre Pressure Monitoring

This signal will appear when one of your vehicle’s tyre pressure is lower than the others. If you see this symbol, for the sake of you and your fellow road users safety, make sure to check all of your tyre’s air pressure and top them up if needs be.

Click here to learn more about the importance of your car’s tyre pressure.


Engine Management / Emission Control warning light Engine Management / Emission Control

This warning light can indicate a fault with your vehicle’s engine. This problem can be with the engine itself, or the operating software (ECU). This problem can often be solved by simply switching your car off and on again. If this doesn’t solve the issue, contact your local garage.


Glow Plug warning light Glow Plugs

It is fairly common for your car’s diesel glow plug to run out eventually. This will cause your car to have starting problems. If you see this warning light, the problem can be fixed in no time and with a very little cost by your local garage. It is recommended that you have all your glow plugs replaced, even if it’s only one that was causing the issue.


Diesel Particular Filter warning light Diesel Particulate Filter

This warning sign is for diesel vehicles only. It means that your car’s particulate filter needs to be cleared - this can be done by taking a relatively long drive. Your vehicle’s manual will have more information on this.






Booking Summary
Selected location

No location selected.

Selected vehicle

No vehicle selected.

Selected date and time

Please select a date and time.

There are no items in your basket.