Common Warning Lights on Your Dashboard... And Why You Shouldn't Ignore Them | Scott's Fort Collins Auto

Common Warning Lights on Your Dashboard… And Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Them

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Most of us have had a warning light pop up and thought, “do I really need to pay attention to this?”A recent poll found that nearly 50% of adults ignore warning lights when they appear on the dashboard of their car. While some of the warning lights might not seem like an immediate issue, it can cause extensive or even irreparable damage to your vehicle, and put you and others at risk while you’re driving. 

Reading the Signs 

Cars that are made today have all sorts of technology incorporated to keep you safe on the road. However, all the warning lights can get confusing if you’re not sure what you’re looking at. First, AAA explains, it’s important to know what the color indicator of the lights mean. There are typically two colors used: red and yellow (in some cars, the yellow may appear more like orange). 

Red lights indicate that the problem is urgent and you should not drive your car any further until you have it looked at. If you’re on the highway when this light appears, drive to a safe stopping point. However, if you continue to drive for long periods with red dashboard lights, it can lead to serious and potentially irreparable mechanical damage. 

Yellow lights indicate that there is a problem that requires attention, although it doesn’t pose an immediate risk of damage. While yellow lights don’t mean you need to pull over immediately, you should still have your car looked at quickly to prevent further issues from occurring. 

Warning Lights to Know

Now that you know what the colors mean, it’s important that you learn the symbols. The most common lights you’ll see appear on your dashboard are: 

Check engine light:

This is one of the most well-known lights. It’s typically yellow, and it looks like the outline of an engine. Sometimes, it will be accompanied with the words ‘check engine.’ This light usually appears when it’s triggered by a fault in the emissions system, which includes a broad number of issues from bad spark plugs and faulty catalytic converters all the way to your gas cap not being tightened on properly. Most of the time, the light will be steady and prompt that you need to have it looked at soon, though not urgent. However, if this light begins to flash, you have a more severe issue at hand and need to stop driving immediately. 

Oil light: 

The oil light is red, meaning it’s an urgent issue. This light indicates that the engine isn’t getting enough oil to properly lubricate all of the moving parts. In most cases, this results from an extremely low oil level and the light may only appear when you accelerate or take a sharp turn. No matter how long you notice the light for, whether a steady light or only when you hit the gas, you risk severe damage to your car if you continue to drive. The parts within the engine aren’t made to run without lubrication for any amount of time. If you see this light, check your oil level immediately. 

Tire pressure light: 

This yellow light appears as a tire with an exclamation mark. It means that your tire pressure monitoring system needs your attention. If the light comes and stays on, it means that air pressure in at least one tire has dropped below the level the pressure system is set to. If it flashes, it indicates that the system itself is experiencing a malfunction that a mechanic needs to see. 

Other common lights that could appear are:

  • Engine temperature light (commonly red)
  • Traction control light (typically yellow and usually only flashes briefly)
  • ABS brake light (commonly yellow)
  • Brake light (commonly red) 
  • Battery light (commonly yellow)
  • Seatbelt light (commonly red) 
  • Air bag light (commonly yellow) 

Check Your Warning Lights with Scott’s Auto

If you have a warning light on in your car, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Bring your car to one of our four convenient Colorado locations: Fort Collins, Loveland, Montrose, or Grand Junction. We’re here for you — no matter if your light is yellow or red! 


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