Nobody likes them, but every once in awhile these little lights appear on your dashboard display. Let’s review some common dashboard lights and learn what to do about them.
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This means that there is a problem with the electrical system. Although this light could turn on due to an issue with the battery, a bad alternator can also cause this light to appear. If you hear squealing, the cause could be a faulty alternator belt. Check that your battery connections are clean and secure. If that doesn’t address the problem, it’s best to take your vehicle to a mechanic.
This light will sometimes turn on without any additional signs or symptoms from your car. Sometimes it can point to an oxygen or mass airflow sensor problem. Even a cracked or loose gas cap can make this signal appear. Or, it may be that you need to change your spark plugs and cables. More serious problems, such as catalytic converter failure, can cause this light to appear as well. When in doubt, take it to the shop.
This light may turn on if your engine overheats, or if the coolant level is low. If this light comes on, stop the vehicle immediately and let the engine cool down. Do NOT remove the coolant reservoir cap while the engine is hot. It can release steam that could cause a serious burn. Once the engine cools, add coolant. If the light turns on again, have a mechanic take a look. Don’t continue to drive with this light on as you could ruin the engine.
Brake System Light
You might see either of these two symbols if there is a brake system issue. The ABS light means your anti-lock brake system needs to be serviced. It might be okay to drive for short distances in the meantime, but get it checked as soon as you can. The exclamation point symbol could mean your brake fluid is low or a brake sensor is malfunctioning. If topping off the brake fluid doesn’t fix the problem, take your car to a mechanic.
Oil Pressure Light
This warning light means that your oil pressure is low. You may simply need to add oil to the engine, but this light could also point to an oil system problem. Check your oil reservoir levels and fill if needed. If this doesn’t get the light to turn off, get your vehicle serviced.
Vehicle Stability Assist
This triangular shaped light (sometimes with exclamation point in the middle) means your vehicle stability assist (VSA) system was engaged to help maintain traction. This light may come on if you’re driving over rough or slippery surfaces. In some models, the light goes off automatically. If this is not the case for your car, try turning the engine off and check to see if the light resets. If the light stays on, there might be a system malfunction.
Sometimes dashboard lights can point to a serious repair issue. Don’t get stuck with high car repair bills. Get a free quote on a Vehicle Protection Plan from CARCHEX now.