5 dashboard warning lights you should never ignore

10/31/2018

Posted by: Jane Osuagwu

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Don't ignore your car's dashboard warning lights, especially the following five. Check out now!

Cars need to be kept in a good running condition if you want to have a great ride with your car. And also if you want to extend your car's lifespan. Extending your car's lifespan means you have to apply preventive measures by paying attention to the warning lights on your car's dashboard. Dashboard warning lights help you to know when something has gone wrong with your car and also save you from expensive maintenance bill. So now, Naijauto.com will let you know 7 dashboard warning lights you should never ignore.

The warning lights on the car dashboard

Dashboard warning lights help you to know when something has gone wrong with your car

1. Brake warning light

When your car's brake warning light comes on, it shows that your parking brake is yet to be fully released. The brake lights can also show if the fluid level of the brake is low or loss of hydraulic pressure in the car's brake circuit (could be any of the brakes). Loss of brake pressure may prevent the brake from stopping your car when the car pedal is stepped on.

With care, slowly apply your brake to confirm if they are functioning. If they are working, then pull over and open the hood. Have a look at the fluid level (it's inside the brake master cylinder), If it has gone low, inspect your brake system for leaks. If you find leaks, don't drive the car. The brake system isn't safe.

A low brake pedal may exert more pressure that'll stop the vehicle when the pedal is pumped. If it doesn't work, the parking brake should be applied to slow down your car. Again, your foot should not be on the gas. Shift to neutral and apply engine braking if you are using a manual transmission.

Possible causes of brake warning light:

  • Parking brake pedal is not fully released.
  • Leakage in wheel cylinders, master cylinder, hoses or brake lines.
  • Pressure differential switch unable to activate the brake light.
  • Faulty parking brake switch.

Solution:

If your car's brake pedal is low, feels soft, is down on the floor, or your car only stops when you pump the pedal, then know your vehicle isn't safe to drive. Have it taken to an auto repair facility to have it fixed.

mechanic fixing a car

Your vehicle isn't safe to drive with the brake warning light on

2. Oil pressure warning light

The oil pressure warning light is an indication the oil pressure is too low to enable the engine to operate safely. Here, pull over and off the engine. Then use the engine dipstick to check the oil level.

Possible causes of oil pressure warning light:

  • Oil viscosity is too thin
  • Faulty oil pressure sending unit
  • Low oil level caused by leak or oil consumption.
  • Worn oil pump.

Solution:

If there are clattering, rapping or ticking noises coming from your engine, the engine is not getting enough oil. If you try driving the engine in this state, you'll end up damaging it (that is if enough internal damage has not been done already).

3. Charging system warning light

If the battery icon or "GEN" or "ALT" shows up on the dashboard, your car's charging voltage is low. When it happens, don't stop the car immediately. But you have less than 30 minutes driving time and your battery will die, while the engine will stop running (the time can be less if the headlights are on).

The car dashboard

If the battery icon or "GEN" or "ALT" shows up on the dashboard, your car's charging voltage is low

Possible causes of charging system warning light:

  • Bad alternator
  • Broken serpentine belt 
  • Charging control fault
  • Corroded or loose battery cables.

Solution:

Open the hood and take a look. See If the drive belt which turns the alternator has not worn out or broken. And also, check whether the drive belt still turns the alternator as the engine is idling.

If the drive belt is still intact, chances are the problem is from the charging system which needs to be identified and repaired. Check for a mechanic to fix it.

Video: Dashboard warning lights and indicators

4. Coolant temperature warning light

Another warning light you should not ignore is the temperature warning light. This light shows up when the engine is overheating.

Whenever it happens, turn off the engine immediately. Don't continue driving as it can cause a costly damage like valve stem galling, piston scuffing and failed head gasket, etc. When you've pulled over, open the hood and inspect the heater hoses, radiator and the engine for coolant leaks. Also, take note of the coolant's level in the reservoir.

Be cautious: Don't open the radiator cap while the engine is heated up. Allow it to cool off(30 minutes will do), because the steam pressure coming from the cooling system is dangerous enough to blow out and harm you!

If the engine cools off, check for the coolant level, if it's low, add coolant (It's a mix of clean and antifreeze distilled water, equally combined).

Possible causes of coolant temperature warning light:

  • Low coolant level (a result of coolant leak)
  • Stuck thermostat
  • Broken serpentine belt
  • Dirty or clogged radiator
  • Bad water pump
  • Exhaust restriction

The steering wheel of a Porsche

Whenever it happens, turn off the engine immediately when the temperature warning light is on

Solution:

Here's something to know: When you turn off the A/C and turn the heater high, it will help to cool down a car engine that overheats because of a hot weather
or when the car tows a trailer.

5. TPMS light (Tire pressure monitoring system) 

The TPMs light will show up on your dashboard if any of the tires on your car are running on a low pressure. It’s important you maintain your car's tire pressure because driving on a low tire pressure can result in a tire blowout. Again, a low tire can cause uneven traction, fuel consumption, and rapid tire wear.

Look for a gas station that can check the tire's inflation pressure using an accurate gauge (the gauge on pumps are often not accurate). Fill the tire with enough air to inflate it, as recommended by your owner’s manual or the glove box. Most passenger cars recommend 32 -34 PSI.

Possible causes of TPMS warning light:

A leak from a punctured tire or a bad valve stem can cause air pressure loss. Loss of air pressure owing to seepage (for most tires, losing 1-2 PSI is normal), inaccurate TPMS sensor in the tire.

Angular front of a car

The TPMs light will show up on your dashboard if any of the tires on your car are running on a low pressure

Solution:

Having a regular check of your tires, like once each month or as you are about going for a long road trip, is advisable. Also, inspect the tires before you drive and when the tires are cold(You know, driving builds up friction which heats the tires up).

Dashboard warning lights should not be ignored. They are there to save you and your car.

>>> Suggested posts: ​Signs indicate your car needs a checkup soon

>>> Find out more car driving tips and advice on Naijauto.com

Jane Osuagwu

Jane Osuagwu

Car prices

Jane Osuagwu is an automotive writer at Naijauto.com. She's a car enthusiast who loves creating educative and informative topics on cars, ranging from maintenance tips to updates on the latest trend in the auto industry in concise and friendly writing. 

Jane is also a blogger and loves reading, inspiring people and getting involved in personal development projects.

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