While not all warning lights are a sign that disaster is imminent, no warning indicator should ever be ignored.
We know not everyone has time to thoroughly read through their vehicle’s owner’s manual and familiarize themselves with each warning light, that’s why we’re giving you easy access to this cheat sheet:
Oil Pressure Light
The oil pressure light is usually an oilcan symbol , although on older vehicles it may be a light with the word “OIL.” It comes on when there is a drop in engine oil pressure. Of all the warning lights, the oil pressure light indicates the greatest potential for serious mechanical damage.
If the oil pressure warning light comes on and stays on, pull off the road at the first safe opportunity, shut off the engine and call for assistance.
Engine Temperature Light
The engine temperature light is usually a thermometer symbol, although in older vehicles it may be a light displaying the word “TEMP.” It comes on when the engine temperature is above the recommended maximum. Unless the temperature is quickly brought under control, major engine damage is likely to occur.
If there are any signs of a cooling system leak, pull off the road at the earliest safe opportunity, shut off the engine and call for assistance.
Be careful when opening the hood in the presence of steam, and never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot.
Charging System Light
The charging system light is usually a battery symbol, although on older vehicles it may be a light displaying the word “ALT” or “GEN.” It comes on when the vehicle electrical system is no longer being supplied power by the alternator.
If this light comes on, shut down all unnecessary electrical loads such as the radio, heater or air-conditioning, and then drive the vehicle to a repair facility immediately for further inspection.
Check Engine Light
The check engine light comes on when there is a problem affecting the vehicle’s exhaust emissions.
If the light comes on and stays on, make an appointment with an auto repair shop to have the problem checked in the near future.
However, if the check engine light begins flashing repeatedly, the catalytic converter is overheating. Should this occur, drive the vehicle to a repair shop immediately for further diagnosis.
Disregarding a flashing check engine light could start a fire, destroy the catalytic converter and result in necessary repairs that could easily exceed $1,000.