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Decoding the Dashboard: What Do Your Car’s Warning Lights Mean?

by | Apr 30, 2024

Your car’s dashboard is more than just a display of dials and gauges. It’s a communication center, alerting you to potential issues with your vehicle’s health. Among the array of indicators, warning lights stand out as crucial signals that demand attention. Here, we’ll help you decode your car’s warning lights so you can navigate the roads with confidence and peace of mind.


5 Warning Lights You Shouldn’t Ignore

There are some dashboard lights that are more informational in nature vs. alerting you to something that’s wrong. This includes things like the headlights symbol that simply lets you know your headlights are on. The most important dashboard lights to be concerned about, however, are the ones that could impact your vehicle’s performance or your driving safety.


Here are 5 common warning lights that require prompt attention:

1. Check Engine Light

This is perhaps one of the most dreaded warning lights, and for good reason. Although the issue could be as simple as a loose gas cap, more serious problems are often present. Left unchecked, your engine could be damaged, leaving you stranded or facing a significant repair.


2. Oil Pressure Warning Light

This warning sign looks like a little oil can on your dashboard. When illuminated, it means your vehicle’s oil level is too low and should be checked as soon as possible. If you continue to drive with insufficient oil levels, your vehicle’s engine could be damaged. Find a safe place to check the oil level and add more oil as needed. Then, schedule an appointment with your trusted mechanic to find out WHY the oil went below the recommended level.


3. Battery Warning Light

This dashboard warning light is easy to recognize as it looks like a battery. Whenever this light comes on, it’s an indication that there’s an issue with your battery or charging system. Left unaddressed, you could be left stranded with a dead battery.


Extreme summer temperatures are common here in Arizona and heat is a known battery killer. We recommend frequent battery checks so a failing battery never catches you by surprise.


4. Brake System Warning Light

Since this warning light indicates a potential problem with your braking system, it’s especially important not to ignore it. Schedule brake service with your local auto repair shop as soon as possible to get the issue diagnosed and addressed.


5. Tire Pressure Monitoring System Light

This dashboard warning light looks like an exclamation point inside a tire and indicates low tire pressure. Some vehicle models can show you which tire is low if you know where to look on your car’s information screen.


Check your owner’s manual or inside your driver’s side door panel to find out the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. Then, make sure each tire is aired up to the appropriate level. Underinflated tires can impact driving safety but may also indicate there are other tire issues that should be addressed.


Prevention is Key: Stay Ahead of Warning Lights

While some warning lights can’t be avoided, many problems CAN be prevented through regular vehicle maintenance. Here are some tips for staying ahead of the game:


  • Follow Your Maintenance Schedule: Check your owner’s manual or talk to your trusted mechanic to learn more about preventative maintenance recommended for your vehicle. Regular oil changes, tire rotations, and inspections can help prevent many common issues.


  • Keep an Eye on Fluid Levels: Check vital fluids regularly to make sure they’re at the proper levels and top off as needed. Some auto repair shops include this with other services so it may already be done for you.


  • Monitor Tire Pressure: Check your tire pressure at least once a month, but especially after changes in seasons or outdoor air temperatures. It’s also a good idea to check your spare tire before heading out on a road trip.


  • Don’t Ignore Strange Noises or Odors: Unusual sounds, smells, or vibrations could be early warning signs of potential problems. Pay attention to them and schedule an appointment for service if you can’t easily figure out what’s causing them.


Expert Auto Repairs and Maintenance in Tempe

Remember, your vehicle’s warning lights are meant to keep you safe and ensure your vehicle’s best performance. Use them as clues to your vehicle’s health and enjoy safe, smooth driving for many miles to come.


If you live in the Tempe or greater Phoenix area, schedule an appointment at our auto repair shop today. We provide a wide range of preventative maintenance services and expert vehicle repairs so you can keep on rolling safely!

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Good Works Auto Repair in Tempe offers financing and allows you to make payments on your car repairs.

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Mon – Fri 7:30 – 5:30
Sat 7:30 – 5:30


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2348 E. Broadway Rd
Tempe, AZ 85282

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