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Know what your dashboard lights mean

Many dashboard lights indicate that a fault has occurred inside the vehicle’s system. The following warning lights are the most common lights used by auto manufacturers. Not all warning lights are universal. Always refer to your owner’s manual when you’re not sure what the light indicates.

  • The electrical fault light:

    This warning light is different in every car. You’ll see it come on and go off when you start your engine as part of the car’s self-test, but if this light comes on and stays on, it means the electrical charging system is not working properly. Every car has an alternator – the charger – and a 12v battery used to supply power to the electrical system. If the alternator becomes faulty or the drive belt to it snaps, then it will not be able to do its job. The longer you drive, the more your car will use up the remaining juice in the battery and eventually the engine will stall. This almost always requires a new or refurbished alternator.

  • Oil warning light:

    This light will come on if your oil pressure is too low. Low oil pressure is serious and if you continue to drive with this light on, your engine will die. Low oil pressure can be caused by a failed oil pump, a blocked oil filter or strainer in the sump, or by low oil levels.

  • Battery/Charging Alert:

    Indicates that the voltage level is below the normal level and the vehicle’s charging system is not functioning properly. Check battery terminals, alternator belt, and battery condition.

  • Coolant Temperature Warning:

    Indicates that temperature has exceeded normal limits. Check the coolant level, fan operation, coolant cap and coolant leaks.

  • Overdrive Light:

    This symbol indicates that the vehicle’s overdrive system has been manually turned off. Typically the overdrive system is controlled by an on/off switch.

  • Airbag Fault:

    If this light stays illuminated after starting, it indicates that the vehicle has found a fault in the airbag system and the computer has set a code. Professional repair of the supplemental restraint system is highly recommended.

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