Don’t Wait Until it’s Too Late
There are so many lights on your dashboard and knowing which is which can cause some confusion.
Waiting to check what is going on with your vehicle could put you in real danger. Don’t wait to find out what your dashboard lights mean; make sure you know what to do when a dashboard light flicks on.
Brake Warning Light
If your brake light goes on it means 1) that you forgot to release your parking brake OR 2) that the braking system in your car is having issues, such as a fluid leakage. This light will usually be a bright red color.
One thing you definitely don’t want your engine to do: overheat. This light should be bright red as well. This light indicates that you are running low on coolant — or that there is a leak. This one is definitely worth calling a towing service for; driving around with an overheated engine is not worth the risk.
Running low on oil is something that shouldn’t happen if you have been getting serviced regularly. You can check for yourself by opening the hood (when the engine is off!) and pull up the dipstick to see the oil level. If you recently got your oil changed and it seems too low then you should take it to a mechanic — you may have a leak.
You can also add a little bit of oil if you feel it necessary, but remember that getting an oil change every 3 months or 3,000 miles is especially important for older cars. It’s not just about adding more oil, but rather about replacing the very important oil filter.
This is one of the most common lights to see pop up on your dashboard, but that doesn’t mean you can just ignore it. It basically indicates that your battery is running low on power, and you probably did this by accidentally leaving your lights or radio on. Unplug any devices that may be draining power and either a) drive your car around for 30 minutes to an hour to refuel the battery or b) drive it to a mechanic.
Tire Pressure Light
In 2007 it became mandatory that cars come equipped with something called a Tire-pressure monitoring system or TPMS. So, if you have a car from after this year you are lucky enough to get your tire air pressure monitored and reported to you right there on your dashboard.
If you get this warning that means either you need to get air in your tires soon (the nicer your tires the more wiggle room you have, but sooner is always better), or that a tire may possibly have been punctured. You should definitely pull over to a safe spot and check!
This one doesn’t mean that you are going to experience an immediate emergency, but you do need to prioritize this issue because you definitely don’t want to be in an accident without working airbags.
Power Steering Light (EPS)
If making turns is starting to feel really difficult — it’s probably your power steering. You should notice a small red or yellow steering wheel light. If your car uses a hydraulic power steering system then this could mean there is a leak somewhere as well. This one is worth bringing to a mechanic, though you probably won’t have much of a choice (since it will be so hard to drive).