What Do the Various Dashboard Warning Lights Mean?

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The warning lights that show up on a car’s dashboard give the driver information about the car’s systems and fluid levels. Because of the importance of being able to read and decipher information quickly while driving, many of the symbols are self-explanatory.

Each dashboard warning is either a picture illustrating what it is or a simple text, such as a picture of a gas pump or the word “fuel.” Some of the most common symbols are the low fuel warning, the oil change indicator, the brake fluid level signal and battery life indicator. The color the symbol indicates the seriousness of the issue.

If a driver sees red for the brake indicator, oil, engine coolant or temperature gauge, he should stop driving as soon as possible and get the car looked at by a mechanic because red usually means a serious problem. The seat belt warning and open door warning should be addressed immediately; in fact, it’s safest to ensure all passengers have on their seat belts before starting the drive.

Orange-yellow is a caution indicator, meaning the car needs service in the near future. An example of this is the engine-check indicator. Other things a driver is likely to see on the dashboard include the windshield wiper fluid symbol, represented by a small, lit windshield.