Dashboard Warning Lights Explained

Did you know that there are over 130 different dashboard warning lights that display to drivers when accounting for every make and model on the road?

When something goes wrong with your vehicle, then a light activates on the heads-up display. You will see something illuminate when you activate specific features too.

The symbols cover a diverse range of potential problems that could be serious. Here is a look at the most common ones that you can find on most vehicles.

List of the Most Common Dashboard Warning Lights

 Some dashboards have different symbols than what is listed below, but they are still similar in design or color so that you know how to react to your car.

    1. Tire Pressure Warning Light
      This symbol looks like a tire with an exclamation point in the middle. Some people see a referee signaling a touchdown. The light is usually yellow, and it indicates that the air pressure is too low in your tires.
    2. Engine Warning Light
      It looks like an engine on your dashboard, but it is also reminiscent of a submarine to some people. This light comes on for several reasons, so you’ll always want to get it checked out right away.
    3. Antilock Brake Warning
      This light usually flashes “ABS” in yellow to let you know that there is an issue with your braking system. It often has a circle around the letters, and then it has parentheses surrounding the symbol.
    4. Engine Temperature
      When your engine starts to get too hot, then it can damage its interior components. Your dashboard warning light will show a thermometer that lights up, but it could also be described as a ship floating in the water. You’ll want to pull over immediately to let things cool down.
    5. Oil Pressure Warning
      This light is an old-fashioned oil can with a drip that also looks a little like a lamp that would hold a genie. You’ll see this one pop on whenever your engine starts running low on oil. It will also shine if it detects an issue with your vehicle’s oil pressurization system.
    6. Battery Warning
      If there is an issue with your vehicle’s battery, then you’ll see a dashboard warning light turn on with a “+” and a “-“ symbol on it. Some people think it looks like a Lego brick. There could be an issue with your charging system, like a faulty alternator.
    7. Low Fuel Warning
      This light on your dashboard says that you need fuel for your vehicle quickly. Most of them come on when you have less than one gallon of gasoline remaining. It looks like a fuel pump that you’d need at the gas station.
    8. Traction Control Warning
      If your anti-skid system fails for some reason, you’ll see a triangle appear with an exclamation point inside of it. Then a circular arrow is outside of that combination. This light will also shine on your dashboard when the system is off.

The warning lights on a dashboard provide critical information that you can use to get home safely. Please reference your owner’s manual for any specific symbols or colors so that you can know what to expect while driving.