What Your Car Dashboard Symbols Mean

Dashboard Lights - All On

Ever been confused by your car dashboard symbols? You’re not alone. They’re not always the easiest or most intuitive things in the world to understand, especially for those of us with little experience fixing cars. Usually, your best option is to pull out your vehicle owner’s manual, which will tell you what each light means specifically. But if you don’t yours handy or have misplaced it, take a look at our quick rundown of some of the most commonly seen lights on car dashboards today – and what they’re telling you.

  • Battery Light. Usually, this is easy to read because the image looks just like a car battery. When this light comes on, it’s indication that your car battery is running low on charge and should be replaced or recharged. Talk to an auto mechanic to determine which course of action is best, but whatever you do, don’t delay. If your car battery goes, your car won’t start.
  • Oil Light. This red light is pretty easy to interpret as well – it looks just like an oil lamp with a drop coming out of it. If you see this, have your oil level checked immediately. When this light goes on, your car’s telling you that your engine reservoir is running low on oil. If you leave it running on empty for too long, your car could seize up on you and cause damage to your engine.
  • ABS Light. If your anti-lock brake light turns on, it could mean that your car’s running low on brake fluid. But it could also mean some other more serious issues. Since your ABS is integral to your ability to stop your car fast, don’t wait to have this checked out.
  • Check Engine Light. This is one of the most difficult lights to diagnose, because it’s something of an all-encompassing indicator that a variety of things could be wrong with your engine. When this light comes on, take your car in to a mechanic and have them check it out. They’ll connect our car to a tester, which will spit a code back out at them that will in turn tell them what the problem is.
  • Air Bag Light. If your car is equipped with air bags and the air bag light turns on, it’s important to have this checked out. Your car will run just fine with an illuminated air bag light – but if you’re involved in an accident, you could be injured if the light is indicating a problem with your air bag deployment system.
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Bear in mind that you might see any of these indicators momentarily light up when you’re starting your car. If they do, they should turn off after a moment. But if any of your car dashboard symbols stay on after your car’s started, or come on suddenly when you’re driving, this is indication that your car’s trying to tell you something. If you need an interpreter, pay a visit to your nearest auto mechanic stat – it could save you from breaking down on the side of the road.

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