What Do Auto Symbols Mean?

What Do Auto Symbols Mean?

Auto symbols are used on dashboards to warn drivers of potential problems such as overheating, malfunctioning brakes or even if someone hasn't fastened a seat belt. Items that need immediate attention are usually in red, while others are in yellow, green or blue.

The red category includes the three symbols mentioned above as well as an engine pressure warning, electrical system warning or if a door is ajar. Common symbols for these, respectively, are a thermometer, the word "BRAKE" or a double circle with an exclamation mark, a sitting person, an oil can, a picture of a battery and an outline of a car, usually with the offending door highlighted.

The yellow category includes an oil can advising that the oil level needs to be checked, a gas pump that warns fuel is low, and a tiny windshield indicating low washer fluid. In some cases, the check engine light replaces the oil can. Some cars also have a tire monitoring system, and a tire picture shows if the pressure is too low.

The green and blue lights just tell drivers what's on. A green light bulb indicates the headlights are on, while a blue headlight means the high beams are engaged. Some headlight or tail light symbols fall into the yellow category, such as when a light is burnt out or the headlights are out of adjustment.

The symbols used vary with the manufacturer, and only a few are listed here. Drivers can find the specific symbols used in their cars by checking the owners' manual.