Dashboard Warning Lights: Meaning and Symbols

Team CARS24
Team CARS24

Updated on: 2nd February, 2024 IST

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As you go along the highway taking in the beautiful scenery, all of a sudden, a red symbol on your dashboard begins to blink. You might wonder if something's wrong with your car. You might even panic if you don't know what that blinking symbol means.

Fortunately, many dashboard warning lights on automobiles are simple to understand. Understanding what these automobile warning lights represent can be extremely helpful if you have to pull over and seek roadside assistance. Modern automobiles are loaded with digital instrumentation and sensors that track the behaviour and health of your vehicle. Understanding the significance of your car's dashboard warning lights may help you to avoid a breakdown or complete failure of the vehicle.

Types of Car Dashboard Symbols

Warning Symbols:

1. Brake warning light

Brake warning light

This warning light signals that the brake fluid pressure is too low. This could be a hazardous situation as you might find yourself without any brakes and must be checked immediately. As soon as it's safe to do so, pull over and come to a complete stop. Maintain a modest pace and prevent abrupt braking. Even if it flickers on and off, you should still check your brake fluid level.

2. Airbag warning light

Airbag warning light

This warning light indicates that something is wrong with the seatbelts or the airbags. It is not safe to drive when this light is on. The front occupant classification system determines the front passenger's weight as well as position to securely deploy the airbag. If the airbag device is malfunctioning, one or more airbags may not deploy in a collision or, in certain situations, it may even deploy unexpectedly and result in a collision.

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3. Power steering warning light

Power steering warning light

This warning light indicates that the power steering is malfunctioning and prompts you to investigate for a cause. When you see this warning light, it is best to stop in a secure location and restart the car after 30 seconds. You should get your automobile examined as quickly as possible if the light remains on.

4. Engine temperature warning light

Engine temperature warning light

When the engine is overheated, this light will illuminate. When the light becomes red, you should immediately come to a stop and wait till the engine has completely cooled. An overheated engine can cause irreparable damage to your engine; you should have it checked as soon as possible.

5. Oil warning light

Oil warning light

This warning light indicates that the engine oil pressure is too low. This drop in oil pressure could be caused by dirty oil, low oil level, or leaking oil. It is unsafe to drive when this warning light comes on. Stop the vehicle at a safe spot and turn off the engine. Check your oil level or signs of leaking oil. If the warning light persists, it is best to call for a tow.

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Safety Symbols:

1. Seat Belt Reminder Light

Seat Belt Reminder Light

The seatbelt warning sign indicates that your seatbelt is not fastened. This sign will light up when the person in the passenger seat hasn't fastened his/her seatbelt. Putting on the seatbelt is the easiest way to fix this. If this light comes on even after the seatbelts are fastened properly, you should have it checked.

2. Door open warning symbol

Door open warning symbol

If one or more doors are open, this cautionary sign will light up. This warning sign will also appear if one or more doors are not properly closed. Open the doors and then close them properly to stop the warning light.

3. Bonnet open symbol

Bonnet open symbol


The icon signifies that the car's bonnet is opened or not properly closed. If there is a problem with the bonnet's locking system, the light can come on.

4. Steering wheel lock symbol

Steering wheel lock symbol

This indicator should come on when the ignition is in the off position and the steering lock is engaged. If you see it come on under any other circumstances, you should have it checked.

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5. Automatic gearbox warning symbol

Automatic gearbox warning symbol


If there is an issue with automatic transmission, the warning indicator will activate. Driving should be avoided when this symbol appears.

Lighting Symbols:

1. Battery charge warning light

Battery charge warning light


If your dashboard displays a battery symbol, there is an issue with battery charging. This indicator may also illuminate when the battery is overloaded. When you notice this warning light, have your battery examined right away.

2. Low fuel warning light

Low fuel warning light

This indicator has one purpose—to tell the driver that the fuel tank is running low. Refuel at the nearest gas station as soon as you notice a limited fuel warning signal.

3. Low beam indicator

Low beam indicator

Whenever the low beam lights are activated, a low beam illumination sign appears. The symbol has rays indicating how the light is falling on the road ahead rather than pointing forward.

4. High beam indicator

High beam indicator

You see this sign when the high beam lights are active. The symbol has rays indicating how the light is pointed forward rather than on the road.

5. Exterior Light Fault

Exterior Light Fault

A warning light for exterior lights signals a problem with one or even more external lights, typically with damaged light bulbs.

Common Symbols:

1. Tire pressure warning light

Tire pressure warning light

The purpose of this warning light is to alert you that the tire pressure is too low and might be creating unsafe driving conditions. If the light says on, one or more tyres are underinflated and should be checked for the cause of pressure loss. You may need to add air or repair your tyres depending on the nature of the issue.

2. Security indicator light

Security indicator light

The security indicator light is an indicator of the car’s anti-theft system. If the light is illuminated or flashing when the car is off and you have no trouble starting the car, there is nothing to worry about. It is your car's way of reassuring you that your anti-theft system is working. If the security light continues to illuminate when the engine is running, or if the security light is on and you can’t start the car, there’s a problem with your anti-theft system and you should have it examined.

3. Anti-lock brake system warning light

Anti-lock brake system warning light


The ABS warning light should come on whenever you start your car as a part of the system check. If the light stays lit, it could mean something is wrong with the ABS, low levels in the fluid reservoir, malfunctioning sensors, or the ABS is turned off.

4. Washer fluid indicator light

Washer fluid indicator light


The washer fluid indication light, as its name implies, indicates if you were low on washer fluid. You must top up your washer fluid even by the needed quantity to reach at least the minimum amount of the required fluid to turn off this light.

5. Lane departure warning light

Lane departure warning light


This warning light is designed to help you avoid crashes due to drifting or departing from your lane. This is often a more sophisticated function included with newer vehicles. It detects lane markers and alerts you when a tire touches a lane marker. If you see this signal turn on, you should focus on your driving and stick to your lane.

Advanced Feature Symbols:

1. Cruise control light

Cruise control light

This sign will illuminate whenever the cruise control is activated. Your vehicle may use two different colours to let you know which state the cruise control is in. The colour of the light will tell you if the cruise control has been engaged or not. If the light is on even when cruise control is not engaged, it could be due to many reasons such as a blown fuse or a malfunctioning speed sensor.

2. Collision warning light

Collision warning light

When a car is driving dangerously close to another vehicle, an object, or a group of pedestrians, a warning message will show. Some cars feature sensors that detect front, side, and rear collisions. If you get this warning, be prepared to brake or steer to safety.

3. Speed limiter light

Speed limiter light

It is a sign that turns on when the speed limit feature is engaged. To avoid going faster than a certain speed, the driver might establish a speed restriction.

4. Hill descent light

Hill descent light

Whenever the hill slope control system is engaged, this sign illuminates. You can keep a certain pace while descending the hill with the aid of the system.

5. Lane assist light

Lane assist light


The lane assist function is engaged while this light is on. It can recognize lane markings or road markings to help the driver stay in the same lane.

Conclusion

Your car may communicate with you by using warning lights to draw your attention to any internal problems or your surroundings. These warning lights may turn on due to an issue or may even come on due to the abuse of certain systems. Thus, you should thoroughly assess the issue and determine whether your car is worth these repairs before taking the final call on mending it.

FAQ's

How can you tell when your car needs repair?

In further detail, the contemporary automobile is far better equipped to alert you when something is wrong. This will be done through the warning lights on your dashboard.

What does the warning light mean in a car?

You should be aware of the warning lights & indicators on your automobile. Green, yellow, or red dashboard lights might all represent various things.

What is the most serious warning light in a car?

Red lights are the most serious and often denote a significant issue that requires quick attention and remedy.

Do warning lights differ for different cars?

Despite the modest variations across all cars, most have a standard set of dashboard indicators and symbols.

What should I do if the temperature warning light on my car glows?

Examine the dashboard lighting on your automobile since it is crucial to see any problems, safety concerns, or impending failure spots.

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