You Shouldn't Ignore These Warning Lights if They Show Up on Your Car's Instrument Cluster
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You Shouldn't Ignore These Warning Lights if They Show Up on Your Car's Instrument Cluster

Ignoring these warning lights could leave you stranded on the side of the road or cause extensive and expensive damage to your vehicle if you continue to drive

September 3, 2019

Cars today have lots of bells and whistles. If you are used to driving an older car, some of the new warning lights can seem confusing. While there are indeed new warning lights that have been added with new technology, many haven't changed over the decades. Ignoring these warning lights, which are there to alert you to a potential problem, can leave you stranded or cause further costly damage.

Thermometer Light

The thermometer light should be an indication for you to immediately pull over and turn off your engine. If your thermometer light is illuminated, your engine is overheating and serious damage could result. The problem can be anything from a stuck thermostat, a coolant leak, a malfunctioning temperature sensor or even too much oil in the engine. If your car is overheating and you have sufficient coolant, you can turn your heater on to maximum to help cool the engine enough to make it to a safe place.

Oil Light

An oil warning light should be taken very seriously. It means your oil level in the engine is dangerously low and engine damage may occur. Ensure your vehicle has enough oil before driving the vehicle any further and have the vehicle inspected to find out the cause of the low oil level.

Battery Light

If the battery light comes on, it that your alternator isn't charging the battery sufficiently. The car might still run, but it won't run for very long. Keeping the vehicle running with an insufficient charge can discharge your battery, potentially damaging it. Get to a safe place quickly.

Check Engine or service engine soon Light

This light is a little bit of a mystery. It can be anything from a loose gas cap to a damaged catalytic converter. There's no way of really knowing what the problem is without having the vehicle diagnosed by a mechanic. And you should have the problem repaired. Most problems that trigger this light also cause a drop in power and a reduction in gas mileage. If this light indicates a problem in your emissions system and your warranty is expired, you may qualify for free repairs under the federal emissions warranty.

You should be OK to drive with the light on, but you should still have it checked out as soon as possible. If the problem is only temporary (e.g. loose gas cap), the light will go out after a few ignition cycles.

If this light is flashing, pull over and turn the engine off immediately. A flashing light indicates a problem that can potentially cause serious damage to the engine or emissions components.

Brake Light

Brakes are important to safe vehicle operation. Most of the time this light indicates an electronic problem in the braking system, but it can indicate low brake fluid. Have this problem checked soon because your braking ability may be compromised.

Airbag Light

The airbag light being illuminated means that there is a problem with the airbag system in your vehicle. The airbags may not function in the event of a crash. This should be checked as soon as possible. The problem is usually related to an electrical problem, such as a bad sensor or a corroded or broken wire.

tire pressure Light

If your tire pressure light is on, one or more of your tires may be critically low or high in pressure. The tolerances vary between manufacturers, but the light indicates that at least one of the tires is off by at least 25% from the target pressure.

You probably picked up a nail somewhere, and this is relatively easy and inexpensive to fix. But you should be checking your tire pressure regularly.