Everyone who drives a modern vehicle is at least somewhat aware of the dashboard warning lights that let you know when there may be trouble lurking under your hood. The “check engine light” is probably the most familiar—but it continues to perplex drivers regularly… “My car’s driving fine. Why is my check engine light on?” or “I just got an oil change. What’s up with the check engine light?” In addition to the check engine light, many newer cars have warning lights for tire pressure, the cooling system, engine oil, other fluids, and more. So, if you see one of these lights while driving, what should you do? Keep going? Panic? Pull over? Should you stop where you are, or is it safe to drive home?
Without further ado, here’s Aardvark Automotive’s guide to dashboard warning lights…
Check Engine Light – Flashing Versus Solid
Your vehicle’s check engine light can indicate many different issues, but you may not know that there is a distinction between a solid light and one that is flashing. A solid check engine light usually means a problem has occurred more than once—often an emission-related problem—and you should get it checked out soon. In general, a solid check engine light is no cause for immediate alarm, but get it checked as soon as you can. On the other hand, a flashing check engine light is an urgent warning. If you continue driving, you are likely doing damage to your engine, so you should stop as soon as possible.
Oil Pressure Warning Light
The oil pressure light appears when you start your vehicle, and should go off almost immediately. If you ever see this light while driving, stop when you can and check your oil level. If you’re low on oil, top it up, and start the engine again. If the light stays on, or if you weren’t low on oil, it could be an indicator of a more serious problem, so bring your car in for a check-up ASAP.
Battery Warning Light
Like the oil pressure warning light, your battery light appears when you start your vehicle, and probably goes off soon after. If it stays on, or if it appears while you’re driving, then there could be either a problem with your battery or alternator. A battery warning light should be taken seriously—you don’t want to be stranded with a car that won’t start. If your batter is over two years old, it may need replacing. If not, you may have an alternator problem.
The ABS light indicates trouble with your antilock braking system. While it doesn’t usually mean you have no braking ability, the ABS light means something about the system isn’t functioning properly. So, it’s okay to drive your car for the time being, but you should be driving straight to the auto repair shop.
Brake & ABS Warning Light
If you see a light shaped like a circle with an exclamation point in the middle, you should stop driving as soon as safely possible. Don’t brake suddenly. Rather, slow down gradually, and get yourself some assistance. This light signifies a problem with your brake system that is serious and potentially dangerous.
If any of your dashboard warning lights are on, call Aardvark Automotive and schedule service. Even if it doesn’t seem like anything’s wrong with your vehicle right now, you can save yourself from dealing with—and paying for—a major repair down the road.