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Dashboard Warning Lights

When Your Car Tells You It’s Faulty

It seems like a century ago that the health of a car was indicated by oil pressure and oil temperature gauges backed up by voltage meters and ammeters. In fact, it very nearly is a century ago and these days vehicle technology has moved on. Unfortunately our knowledge of cars has failed to keep pace. In other words, we don’t understand the warning lights on a modern dashboard and that they are there for more than just ornamentation. We ignore them at our peril.

Lack Of Automotive Knowledge

Because our 21st Century cars are so complex we rarely give them our personal attention, preferring to leave it to the experts. Drivers today risk breakdowns and accidents, because so many are unable to identify some of the most common car dashboard warning lights. UK motorists lack the basic knowledge and, crucially, the urgency when it comes to both recognising and reacting to the warning lights glowing right before their eyes. Sometimes it can take days for an owner to take action, not really seeing it as a problem. In fact, this could mean the difference between a big and small garage bill in due course.

Car owners need to ask themselves the question, ‘Would I recognise the symbol associated with the diesel particulate filter or the ABS system’. The chances are the answer will be in the negative.

They’re All In The Handbook

Here’s a list of commonly featured warnings. It’s not comprehensive because, for example, a budget car will not have quite the same number of alerts as a prestige motor. These though are mostly common to all modern vehicles and can be seen on the image:

Issue with braking system.


Diesel particulate filter issue.

Coolant issue.

Tyre pressure issue.

Airbag issue.

Anti-lock braking system issue.

Oil warning light.

Battery charge warning.

Engine warning light. (The famous ‘check engine’ light of TV fame).


Dashboard Warning Lights

Each one is different and the pictogram gives a fair clue as to what ails the car. If in doubt, refer to the handbook. The handbook is provided by the manufacturer to instruct and inform the happy owner about the care and functions of their expensive automotive purchase. It is usually found in the car’s glovebox or cubby hole. Almost inevitably, it finds its way to a drawer in the house where it gathers dust, unloved and unread.

All the warning light alerts, their symbols and meanings, can be found in this book. That’s why owners with scant knowledge of their car should keep that book to hand when driving. That way, even without mechanical or electrical knowledge they can confidently identify the problem and take remedial action before a minor fault becomes a major catastrophe.

Our Crowded Roads

It’s hard to understand the lack of knowledge amongst UK motorists. Warning lights must always be treated as a matter of urgency and leaving it ‘for later’ could prove fatal on our crowded roads. The inescapable truth is that fixing cars is an expensive business; everybody knows this but it is nevertheless important to remember that safety is paramount on the roads. So why not grab the handbook and learn what the symbols mean: forewarned is forearmed as they say.

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