What is the Meaning of Dashboard Warning Lights?

Car Computer

Lighted dashboard warning lights can bring on worry and concern for many drivers. The trouble behind many of the lights can be handled simply, but it is best not to wait if something needs to be checked. Ignoring a dashboard warning light could mean that a simple repairs becomes much larger. If you can’t figure out why the light is on, take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic or auto parts store.

“Maintenance Required” Light

Most vehicles have a light that says “Maintenance Required.” When this light is turned on, it typically means your car needs nothing more than a simple oil change. Generally, the oil change company will reset it, which means it will come on again in about 3,000 miles. This is a minor maintenance issue, but changing the oil is crucial for engine longevity. If an oil light is on, this may mean oil is low or there is little oil pressure. In this case, maintenance may also be required.

Check Engine Light

Most vehicles will have a light in the symbol of an engine if the computer detects the engine is not running smoothly as it should. This could be a minor issue, such as a bad sensor, or the trouble could be major. No matter the issue, this is likely the job for a mechanic, who can hook up a reader to your car to tell for sure. In some care models, if the engine light starts to blink, this is a serious issue and needs immediate attention.

Low Fuel Light

The low fuel light may come on commonly, particularly for those drivers who tend to run their vehicles low on fuel before refilling. If this light comes on, usually a vehicle will have between one or two gallons of fuel on the tank. Filling the tank should be done as soon as possible, as low fuel could eventually have a negative effect on the fuel pump system.

Brake Light

Generally, if the brake light comes on, this does not indicate an issue with the brakes themselves but with the brake fluid levels. The brakes typically don’t have sensors and problems are usually noticed by the way they feel or sound. If your brake fluid is low, it may trigger a dashboard light and the fluid should then be refilled. This light could also indicate that the parking brake is set.

“Door Ajar” Light

If a door is not securely shut, this will often trigger a light on the dashboard. Depending on the model of your vehicle, the light will either show which door is causing the problem or it may show a generic door. This is also the case of the trunk door being unsecured, but this is often a separate light.

Battery Light

The battery light is usually another misleading light. This is because the issue is often not the batter itself, but rather the alternator, which works to recharge the battery. If this light comes on, it is ideal to turn off as many electrical systems as possible — such as stereos and air conditioners — and have the issue checked by a mechanic or the auto parts store.

Other Lights

Many other warning lights that commonly appear on the dashboard are also fairly self-explanatory, such as a seat belt light which indicates that not all occupants are wearing a seat belt. A bright light indicator reminds the driver that high beams are on, which may be a hazard to oncoming traffic.


These are just a few of the common warning lights that appear on vehicle dashboards. While it could be something as minor as a faulty sensor or a broken wire, it could be something more serious that, if left unchecked, will cause lasting and expensive damage to your vehicle. Regular servicing and maintenance can help protect your vehicle from firing off a fault, so keep a close eye on your car and its warning lights to save you money and time in the long run. Contact Autoworks with the link below for more information or to have your vehicle serviced today!

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