A signal funnels through the electrical system and into the dashboard when something goes wrong with your car or if a feature gets activated. Which then illuminates a hieroglyphic. These indicators cover a wide range of issues, from a spoilt taillight to more serious issues like an engine leak.
With so many symbols and indicators on your dashboard, do you know what each of them represents? Or what you should do when one of these symbols light up? No?
Don’t worry! Here’s a guide on the 18 common symbols that are on your dashboard and what each of them means.
Oil Pressure Warning
What it means: Car engine is running low on oil, or engine has lost normal oil pressure.
What you should do: Stop driving immediately and turn the engine off. For a detailed guide on how to treat this, click here.
What it means: Car alternator is not making electricity and the car is running off of battery power alone.
What you should do: If your battery charging light comes on while you’re driving, you should pull over as soon as it’s safe and turn off electrical items (like the radio, air conditioning, etc). For a detailed guide on how to treat this, click here.
What it means: Buckle your seatbelt
What you should do: Buckle your seatbelt
What it means: Problem with the seat belt system, the airbag, the computer or associated wiring.
What you should do: Take the vehicle to the nearest mechanic. For a detailed guide on how to treat this, click here.
Engine Temperature Warning Light
What it means: Vehicle is overheating (running too hot) and there is something wrong with the cooling system
What you should do: Stop driving immediately and do not attempt to open the radiator cap. For a detailed guide on how to treat this, click here.
Advanced Braking System Warning Light
What it means: ABS brakes are malfunctioning
What you should do: Bring your car to the nearest mechanic and have the codes scanned by a mechanic
What it means: Normal headlights are on. They are dipped down by design so they don’t dazzle oncoming traffic
What you should do: Nothing
What it means: Hazard lights are switched on
What you should do: Switch on when you are stationary (that you’re a hazard) or when there’s an accident ahead. Switch off when driving
Washer Fluid Warning Light
What it means: Level of windshield washer fluid is low
What you should do: Add windshield washer fluid to the windshield washer fluid tank. Windshield washer fluid is not expensive and can be found at most petrol stations
Recirculated Cabin Air Light
What it means: Air is recirculated around the cabin, as opposed to using outside air. Which helps to keep the car cooler without making it stale.
What you should do: Turn it on when it gets dusty or pungent outside your car
Fuel Indicator Symbol
What it means: Level of fuel in the car is low, potentially running on reserve fuel
What you should do: Get to the nearest petrol station and replenish the fuel tank
Main Beam Headlights
What it means: Your headlights are on
What you should do: These lights blind oncoming traffic and should only to be used when no other cars are around. The lights are mainly used in unlit or dark rural areas. Do not turn on your headlights on the highway.
Open Door Warning Light
What it means: Your car doors are open
What you should do: Ensure that all car doors are properly closed and light is switched off before moving off
Fog Warning Light
What it means: Fog lights are on
What you should do: Only use in heavy downpours or hazy conditions. Using them outside of these conditions is regarded as an offence.
What it means: There’s an issue with your car’s anti-theft system. It can also mean that your car is unlocked but missing the keys to trigger the ignition.
What you should do: Ensure that you have your car keys on you before moving off
Traction Control Malfunction Light
What it means: There might be an issue with your anti-skid system. Which means that it might shut off completely, without warning.
What you should do: Drive extremely safely, especially in snow or rainy conditions. For a detailed guide on how to treat this, click here.
Traction Control Light
What it means: Car’s traction control system is engaged
What you should do: Nothing
Tyre Pressure Warning Light
What it means: The pressure in one or more of your tires is too low
What you should do: Pull the vehicle off the road and find a safe place to stop so you can inspect your tyres. For a detailed guide on how to treat this, click here.
Always be careful on the roads and ensure that you are ready to treat any warning symbols that appear on your car dashboard.
Depending on the type of your car and its advanced systems, you might see loads of other warning lights, but these are the most common ones. Anyway, if you see a dashboard light that wasn’t there yesterday, make sure you address the issue.