Meaning of Warning Lights on Car Dashboard

Warning Lights On Cars
Latest update date: February 07, 06

The dashboard of the car is designed and installed with a lot of different warning signs / lights - they are used to warn users about the problems that the car is facing. With more modern cars, equipped with more automation devices, there will be more symbols on the dashboard. However, not all drivers understand the meaning of those warning lights. 

Research on “Human Factors and Ergonomics” can provide data on the time it takes an average driver to perceive and react to visual signals.

For example: One study found that the average driver reaction time to a red brake light signal is about 0.7 seconds.

This paragraph, Thanh Phong Auto will summarize the symbols on cars and the meanings of some of the most common warning lights. Let's refer.

What is a Car Warning Light?

Car warning lights are warning lights placed on the dashboard, providing important information about the status and possible problems with the vehicle. Some common warning lights include:

  • Check Engine light: Signals a problem with the emissions control system or other engine parts.
  • Brake error light (Brake System): Warns about problems with the brake system such as loss of brake fluid, worn brakes, etc.
  • Airbag error light (Airbag): Indicates there is a problem with the safety airbag system.
  • Tire Pressure Light: Warning of low or high tire pressure.
  • Battery Charging light: Indicates that the battery is not fully charged.
  • Oil Pressure warning light: Warning of low engine oil pressure.
  • High Beam: Indicates that the high beam is on.

These warning lights are important for early detection of problems that could affect vehicle safety and reliability. When the warning light comes on, you should immediately check the vehicle's condition.

How Many Common Warning Lights Are On the Dashboard?

In a survey of more than 2.000 UK drivers by Britannia Rescue Group, 98% did not fully understand the meaning of the warning lights on the dashboard and only 52% understood half of the symbols. Because of this, Britannia Rescue has compiled 64 of the most frequently used light symbols to help drivers understand and promptly fix problems when driving cars on the road.

Warning Lights On Cars

Meaning Of Warning Lights On Cars

Meaning 8 Most Common Types of Warning Lights 

Of the 64 common symbols on the dashboard, only 8 light symbols appear most often (in all vehicles). To better understand the meaning and how to effectively fix the warning lights, you can refer to the following detailed statistics table:

Types of warning lights 

Meaning of warning lights

How to fix

Meaning of Warning Lights on Car Dashboard Best Garage Thanh Phong Auto Hcm 2024

Engine indicator light will often show the meaning of problems with the engine. When an incident code is stored in your vehicle controller, this light will appear. 

This sign can be seen in different shapes: for example some other information text or the Check Check Engine.

- You will have to learn some problems in the engine controller to see what it shows, then be able to fix and fix it when this problem occurs.

- You must use OBD-II scanner before you can read the fault code memory. Take it to the garage for them to check the fault code memory for your driver, you can also check it at home if you really can.

- A few ways to fix:

+ Check around the suction inlet for any signs of vacuum leakage.

+ Check that all vehicle fuses are in good working order.

+ Check the fuel tank cap and make sure it is tight.

Meaning of Warning Lights on Car Dashboard Best Garage Thanh Phong Auto Hcm 2024

Battery indicator light: in case the battery is still in good working condition, in the first few seconds this indicator will turn orange, and when the driver turns on the electric key the indicator light will turn off shortly thereafter. 


- In case your car's battery is exhausted, or your car generator is not charged, the battery indicator light will light up and appear red. 

- If there is no external power source plus your battery is being depleted, the car will stop and be unable to restart. 

- When the battery indicator light appears red, the first thing you need to do is to visually check whether the battery is good or not, but only for non-maintenance batteries like SMF or MF.

- But to be more sure about the inspection and repair process, you should bring your car to the garage to check the generator and battery to see if there is a problem or not.

- When the battery indicator light is on, the cause is due to the problem of the brush in the generator that the charging voltage for the battery is not enough.

Meaning of Warning Lights on Car Dashboard Best Garage Thanh Phong Auto Hcm 2024

ABS indicator light: When this light is on, your vehicle's anti-lock brake (ABS) system may be having problems. Because the function of ABS will be off when this indicator light is on.

- The ABS controller has the function to check the speed of each wheel due to the use of sensors in each wheel.

- When you panic braking, the ABS system will not completely lock your brakes in this case. 

Usually, cases that often occur with the ABS indicator light system are caused by problems such as:

+ Their cords are broken.

+ The sensor of the ABS indicator has a problem.

- Therefore, in this case you need a diagnostic machine to be able to know where your wheels are broken.

Meaning of Warning Lights on Car Dashboard Best Garage Thanh Phong Auto Hcm 2024

Airbag / SRS warning light. 

- In the event that the airbag warning light is on, your vehicle's airbag system will be completely disabled at this time. 

- If the worst case scenario is an accident, there will be no airbags to save you.

- To be able to read the error and delete the code, you need to use a diagnostic machine to read it. 

- The passenger's seat or the lower seat connector are common causes when this warning light is lit. 

- If while you are moving the seat the light indicates an error, the connector is most likely. You just need to remove it to clean and remove this error.

Meaning of Warning Lights on Car Dashboard Best Garage Thanh Phong Auto Hcm 2024

Water glass washing indicator light

If the water level of the glass wash liquid is low, then the glass wash light will light up.

- In this case, the treatment is also very simple, the glass cleaner just needs to fill the bottle. 

- When the tank is filled with water and the light is still on, there may be a problem with the connector wires or the sensor in the tank is defective.

Meaning of Warning Lights on Car Dashboard Best Garage Thanh Phong Auto Hcm 2024

Tire pressure light

When one of the wheels has a tire pressure below the tire pressure, this indicator will light.

- First, make sure that in all of your tires there is the correct tire pressure.

- Next, at the car body or in the service manual, you can find the correct tire pressure.

- In case you need to reset the TPMS system, when the test is complete and the pump has been pumped, the indicator light is still on.

Meaning of Warning Lights on Car Dashboard Best Garage Thanh Phong Auto Hcm 2024

Warning light for cooling water temperature.

When the coolant temperature warning light is on, it can show two different things:

The coolant is overheating and the car is about to heat up.

- In contrast, the coolant has too low temperature.

- First of all, what you need to do is check the coolant level on the car, if not full then fill them up.

Next, check for water level issues and leaks. 

- If the water level in the cooler is okay, your car's engine may be having problems. When the engine is running at a high temperature, this can lead to damage to your vehicle.

Meaning of Warning Lights on Car Dashboard Best Garage Thanh Phong Auto Hcm 2024

Oil pressure warning light

When the pressure of lubricating oil in your car engine is low, this light will turn on, you should turn off the engine as soon as possible. 

First, it is necessary to check that the oil level is still within the permissible range. Next you need to check the sensor wire and the sensor.

In addition to the above 8 warning lights, on the car dashboard there are many other symbols such as seat belt lights, fog lights, electronic stability lights, cruise control lights... Each symbol contains a meaning and different handling methods.

When any warning light lights up, it is important that you calmly identify the problem and have a timely solution. If you're not sure, it's best to take your car to a reputable garage to have it meticulously checked by professional technicians. Understanding the meaning and mastering how to handle warning lights will help you improve driving safety and prolong the life of your car.

Questions surrounding the topic of warning lights on cars

1. How to know exactly what a warning light means?

Consult your vehicle's owner's manual, search the internet, or consult a professional auto mechanic. Each symbol has its own meaning that needs to be clarified.

2. Are warning lights a cause for concern?

Depends on the type of warning light. Some lights, such as the low fuel light, are just reminders. However, lights such as the check engine light and low oil pressure light need to be treated immediately to avoid serious damage.

3. Should you continue driving when the warning light is on?

This depends on the type of warning light. With dangerous lights such as the engine warning light or low tire pressure light, you should stop the vehicle and check and resolve the problem before continuing to drive.

4. What to do when many warning lights are on at the same time?

Prioritize dealing with the most dangerous lights first, such as the engine light and oil pressure light. Then deal with less serious lights. If you are unsure, seek professional help. You can refer to how to handle it The temperature indicator light is on Fast, safe, simplest.

5. Is the warning light still on after troubleshooting?

In some cases, you need to clear the error with a specialized diagnostic machine after repairing the problem. If the light is still on, the problem may not have been completely resolved, you need to check again.

6. Can the warning light be turned off without repair?

You should not do this because the warning light has an important meaning, helping you detect and handle problems promptly. Turning off the light without repair can cause more serious damage.

7. Can the warning light turn off automatically?

Some warning lights will turn off automatically after the problem has been corrected. However, with serious faults, the light may remain on until cleared by a diagnostic tool.

8. Do you need to check the warning lights regularly?

You should look at the dashboard every time you start the car to make sure no unusual warning lights light up. Early inspection and treatment will help avoid unfortunate damage later.

9. Will the vehicle's lifespan be affected if the warning light is frequently ignored?

Absolutely yes. Failure to promptly handle warned problems will cause the damage to become worse over time, shorten the vehicle's lifespan and even lead to expensive repair costs.

10. Are warning lights the same on all vehicles?

In general, warning signs are quite similar between car manufacturers. However, there are still some small differences. It's best to carefully refer to your vehicle's owner's manual.

Posts above Thanh Phong Auto Introducing to you 8 types of warning lights commonly found on car dashboards. Hopefully this information will help you protect your engine as well as your vehicle.

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