Own a car? You’re not alone. More than nine in 10 American households have access to at least one car, and most people prefer to own or lease a car than to try to live without one. In fact, the lack of convenient public transportation makes owning a car a necessity for most people.
Whether you had trouble choosing your latest car or knew from the outset the make and model you wanted, there are likely some aspects about your vehicle you may not know. One of those issues that may stump newer drivers and more seasoned ones alike is figuring out what the dozens of dashboard warning lights mean.
Today’s dashboards have more warning lights and signals than ever. Car dashboards have evolved from the simplest of instruments and controls to panels that include instruments that indicate information including your speed, mileage, fuel supply and cabin temperature — and that’s only the beginning. Your dashboard also likely features dozens of colored symbols and warning lights, many of which can be confusing.
The first aspect to consider with a symbol is its color. Green, blue or white symbols typically indicate that something about the car needs your attention, such as that you’re low on fuel, a door is open, or your windshield wiper fluid is running low. Other green symbols include lighting indicators, such as when your high beam headlights or hazard lights are on, the cruise control indicator, ignition switch warning, and lane assist warning.
A yellow symbol may indicate a safety issue that you should address, such as not having a seatbelt on when the car is in motion, that your tire pressure is low, or that your brake pads are becoming worn. Typically, these symbols indicate a possible safety issue you should address soon.
A red symbol presents the biggest danger to your vehicle and safety. A red symbol is likely to indicate a serious issue with your vehicle and one that should be addressed right away. Red symbols include warnings that your brakes are malfunctioning, your engine is overheating, or your battery is nearly dead.
Some symbols are easy to understand, such as the indicator that shows a door is open. Others, such as the tire pressure indicator, may not be as intuitive. Be sure to read the accompanying resource, which covers this topic more in depth.