Five Common Lights on the Dashboard and What They Mean for Your Vehicle

You can have your vehicle serviced every year, replace the oil on time, and practice good driving habits, but some wear and tear is frankly unavoidable. Luckily, the lights on your dashboard are put in place to alert you of an issue with your vehicle. While you may think many of these lights are simplistic in their meaning and the service required, they could be raising unexpected red flags for your vehicle. Below are five common dashboard lights and what they mean for your vehicle.


Battery Light

The battery warning light illuminates to indicate poor battery condition. When this light appears the most obvious cause could, of course, be the battery itself, but the culprit could extend beyond the battery. First, there could be compromised or disconnected terminals that are unable to transfer power from the battery. This will cause overall voltage in the vehicle to drop. The best solution for this will be to clean or replace the dirty terminals. Second, it could be the alternator, which works to keep the battery charged when the engine is running. If the voltage is too low, check for a faulty voltage regulator or a loose or damaged alternator belt. Lastly, the battery light may appear due to frayed or damaged wiring coming out of the battery, which impedes the flow of electricity.


Temperature Warning

If you see this flagship-looking icon light up on your dashboard, it’s an indication that your engine has overheated. Your coolant is responsible for keeping the engine from overheating, so if you see this light appear it’s likely due to a coolant leak. Be sure to check for cracked or disconnected hoses that disperse the coolant in these situations, wait for the engine to cool down and have your coolant level replenished immediately. If you don’t believe a faulty hose is the cause of the leak, come to Atlantic Tire & Service to have your vehicle checked for the source of the leak.


Oil Pressure Low

If your oil pressure light comes on the issue could be much greater than simply needing an oil change. Low pressure indicates there isn’t an adequate amount of oil in your vehicle or the oil pump cannot circulate enough oil to lubricate crucial bearing and friction surfaces. Be sure to have your vehicle serviced immediately.


ABS Warning Light

The Antilock Braking System is designed to shorten braking distance and to prevent your vehicle from skidding. This feature will assist in slowing or stopping your vehicle in the event that your tires lose grip on the road while braking. Your ABS works in conjunction with the main braking system, which will likely still be intact even if the ABS warning light appears. While this is a complex system that should be examined by a professional, a few common causes for the warning light appearing include defective wiring, wheel speed sensor faults, low brake fluid, a defective hydraulics system, or a pump failure.


ESC Warning Light

Similar to ABS, the Electronic Stability Control system closely monitors your brake system and prevents your vehicle from fishtailing. If the system senses a loss of steering control or traction, the program computer can reduce engine power and engage the brakes to assist you in regaining control of the vehicle. You will likely only see this light on the dashboard when the vehicle is not under control, meaning the system is engaged, but if the light stays on for a lengthy period of time, there could be a malfunction detected in the system. If the light appears while driving in slippery conditions, slow down and be mindful of how your braking, acceleration, and turning. If it stays on constantly, be sure to have the vehicle serviced.