We all know that sinking feeling when a light you’ve never seen before suddenly pops up on your dashboard. Even if you have no idea what the little icon means, several thoughts cross your mind. Can I still drive the car? Should I pull over? Is it worth the money to fix whatever this problem is?
While most lights pertain to problems that do not require you to immediately pull over or immediately visit the nearest service center, there are some lights you should not ignore.
Not all warning lights are the same, but most vehicles use very similar indicators. Your owner’s manual contains a full list of warning lights specific for your vehicle. Always consult your owner’s manual or contact a service center when you are uncertain of the light’s meaning.
Here is a list of 5 vehicle warning lights you should not ignore.
1. Check Engine Light
Also known as the Malfunction Indicator Lamp, the Check Engine Light is triggered when the engine’s computer notices a problem. The problem can range from your neighborhood gas attendant not tightening your gas cap enough after filling up, to a problem with your vehicle’s catalytic converter. If your check engine light comes on, don’t panic. It does not necessarily mean a costly repair or that your vehicle is going to stop working immediately. However, you still should get it checked by a professional mechanic to ensure you don’t run into any problems down the road (excuse the pun), or that something that can be inexpensively fixed now, does not turn into a costly repair after waiting. If your check engine light is flashing, this indicates a more serious problem and should be looked at immediately by a professional mechanic.
2. Brake Warning Light(s)
There are several brake warning lights that your car might use. To the left is one warning light, normally associated with brake fluid level. Other lights include just the word “BRAKE” which normally relates to your parking brake being engaged, and a circle light with “ABS” inside the circle, which relates to the Anti-Lock Brake System in your vehicle.
If you see the light appear that is featured above, it could indicate that the level of brake fluid in your vehicle is low. Low brake fluid could indicate larger problems such as wear and tear to your brake pads or a brake fluid leak. It is best to have a professional mechanic look into this further for you.
If a warning light with the word “BRAKE” lights up, this could mean that your emergency/parking brake is engaged. Disengage your parking brake, and it should turn off the light. If the light does not turn off, you could potentially have a problem with your emergency brake sensor, or a larger problem with the braking system itself.
A warning light with the letters “ABS” indicates a problem with your anti-lock brake system (ABS). Your ABS assists in smoother braking and prevents your wheels from locking up when applying the brakes. This is especially important in poor weather conditions and in situations in which you need to apply the brakes suddenly. Since the warning light is activated, your ABS could potentially be deactivated, or there could be a problem with your sensor. Checking with a professional mechanic will ensure that your brakes are working properly.
3. Oil Pressure Warning Light
The oil pressure warning light is the perfect example of a smaller problem that could potentially become a costly problem if not fixed immediately. The warning lights up when the pressure sensor detects low oil pressure in the vehicle. If your vehicle is close to running out of oil, you could potentially ruin your engine by driving further. If this light turns on, pull over in a safe location and turn off your engine. If possible, open your hood and check your vehicle’s dipstick for oil. If you see a low amount of oil, or no oil at all, the sensor is most likely reading correctly and you will need to have oil added to your vehicle. Avoid running your engine with a low amount of oil.
If you check your oil level and it appears to be at the proper level, have a professional mechanic examine your vehicle as it could be a problem with your oil pressure sensor, or a larger overall problem with your vehicle.
4. Coolant Temperature Warning Light
The cooling system in your vehicle is what keeps your vehicle’s engine operating at a safe and optimal temperature. Through a combination of coolant and fans, your engine must maintain a certain temperature, otherwise you risk overheating your engine and causing further problems. The coolant warning light could activate when your vehicle detects a low level of coolant or when there is a risk of overheating. If the light activates, pull over and turn off your vehicle. Allow your engine to cool, open your hood and check your coolant level. If it is showing at a proper level, there is a chance that your sensor is malfunctioning, or there is a larger problem with another part of your cooling system. Check with a professional mechanic to ensure that your cooling system is working properly to remove any risk of damaging your vehicle.
5. Vehicle Battery Warning Light
The battery warning light activates when your recharging system in your battery fails. If the voltage produced by your alternator is low, the light will turn on notifying you that your battery is not charging properly. The car will run on stored battery power, but will eventually stop working when the power stored in your battery depletes. Common problems relevant to this warning light include broken alternator belts or further problems with your alternator. Make sure you get to a service center as quickly as possible. A professional mechanic will be able to further diagnose what is causing this problem.
We hope you never find yourself in a situation to need this information, but also hope that in case you ever do, you are now better prepared!
Lester Glenn proudly offers 10 service locations in Monmouth and Ocean County including Ocean Township, Toms River and Manahawkin, and the surrounding areas. With a full-service collision center, towing service and rental cars available for our service customers, we invite you to find out what the Lester Glenn Experience is all about. Please call us at 855.833.4200 with any questions or concerns about your vehicle. A specially-trained service coordinator will be available to assist you.