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Dashboard Warning Light Guide

Automotive problems have been around since vehicles first graced the road. But human ingenuity has kept pace with today's mechanical wonders. Modern vehicle now use dashboard warning lights to preempt problems or make current issues easier to solve. Through the dashboard warning light system, your vehicle can tell you (or your technician) what's wrong. This leads to fast and proper service.

But not all alerts are self-explanatory. That's why we've created this guide for dashboard lights.

Dashboard Warning Lights - How to Speak Car

Become a dashboard warning light interpreter to impress your friends, or identify what your vehicle is telling you right now if there's a problem. Here's a list of some of the most common alerts, notifications, and warning lights our customers see.

Check Engine

The Check Engine light is notorious for being one of the least helpful alerts. Many drivers associate it with expensive repairs. However, there are many reasons the Check Engine light turns on, and some of them are simple. Common triggers include: lose gas cap, bad catalytic converter, bad spark plug, faulty ignition coil, bad mass airflow, and failure of the oxygen sensor.


ABS stands for Anti-lock Brake System. This is the system that helps you stop in adverse conditions. It prevents your wheels from locking up to prevent skidding. When you first turn on your vehicle, the ABS light may turn on momentarily as a self-test. If the light stays on while you're driving, then there's a problem with the system and a technician should diagnose it. Keep in mind that your brakes will continue to function but without ABS benefits.


Stay calm; your vehicle isn't trying to tell you about its new psychic abilities. ESP stands for Electronic Stability Program. On some vehicles, this light appears as ESC (Electronic Stability Control) instead. Whatever its name, it's not a problem. Instead, this dashboard light is letting you know that traction control has activated. It's important to know that the ESP light or ESC light will not prevent skidding if traction fails, so drive careful.

Stability Control Off

This light means your Stability Control System is off. Your vehicle will continue to operate normally, but you won't have traction assistance to prevent skidding. If your Check Engine light is on, then stability control turns off. This is because it relies on sensors from other systems to determine when stability control is necessary. If it can't get an accurate reading of the situation, it shuts off. If this light blinks without the "off" while you're diving and disappears, however, this indicates a working system.

Tire Pressure

This is the tire pressure warning light. If you have ever hit a road hazard that ended with a flat tire, then you're familiar with it. This light's purpose is to let you know your tire pressure levels are low. You may have a puncture or you haven't filled your tires with air in a long time. In any case, it's no good driving on tires with low air.


The Battery Warning light lets you know that your battery isn't being charged. There could be a few different reasons for this. You may have an alternator problem, torn poly-V belt, or dying battery.

High Engine Temp

When you see this light, pull over ASAP. Your engine is operating at extremely high temperatures. This happens when you don't have enough coolant. If you continue to drive your vehicle, then you may be in the market to buy a new car soon. High temperatures are quick to kill the essential systems that keep your car running.

Oil Change Reminder

A polite light that lets you know it's nearing time for your oil change. Make sure not to ignore it for too long. Your vehicle relies on motor oil as a lubricant that prevents friction, so the essential parts continue to work together.

Oil Pressure

This light means you're losing oil or burning oil. Neither are good things, so you should get to a safe place ASAP and turn your engine off. Without oil to lubricate the different systems in your vehicle, they'll damage one-another instead of work together. If the Oil Pressure light turns on, you may have an oil leak or need new gaskets or seals.

Brake System

This light indicates a problem with your hydraulic brake system. You may just have low brake fluid. It could also mean that hydraulic pressure is lost in one of the brake channels. A technician can diagnose the exact cause and restore stopping power to your vehicle.

Do you see a dashboard instrument panel light that's not listed above? Contact your nearest location. We're happy to help diagnose it. We're also always glad to help drives in Philadelphia, PA, Upper Darby, PA, and Drexel Hill, PA stay safe on the road.

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