Tuesday 20 July 2010

What does the light on my dashboard mean? Top up your knowledge with the Good Garage Scheme's dashboard guide

If you've got a warning light illuminated on your dashboard, would you know what to do? Here are some of the more common warning lights shown together with advice on what to do if they're displayed on your car.

Engine Warning Light
If this light illuminates with the engine running, it indicates a malfunction with the engine management system. If it flashes, avoid heavy acceleration and high engine speed, stop the vehicle and have it checked immediately. With the light illuminated, the vehicle is still safe to drive as long as no other faults are apparent with the engine, but  have the vehicle checked as soon as possible.

Battery Charge Warning Light
If the battery light comes on and stays on, it means the alternator is not charging the battery. This may be due to a slack battery or starter terminals, a broken or loose alternator drive belt or an alternator failure. Immediately move the vehicle to a safe location and switch off the engine and seek assistance.

Coolant Warning Light
If the coolant warning light illuminates, it means the engine temperature has exceeded the safe maximum, and a further increase could cause major engine damage. Stop as soon as possible.Wait for the engine to cool and then check the coolant level and top up if necessary. If the light comes on again soon, stop and call for assistance.

Oil Pressure Warning Light
If the light stays on after starting or illuminates during a journey your oil pressure is too low. You should stop immediately, switch off the engine and check the engine oil level when cool. Top up straight away if the level is low. If the warning lamp illuminates, even though the oil level is correct, do not start the engine and seek assistance.

Brake Warning Light
Illumination after releasing the handbrake may indicate low brake fluid level. Add the correct brake fluid at once to bring the level up to the MAX mark. If the brake fluid is too low and brake pedal travel is distinctly longer than usual, one of the two hydraulic brake circuits may have failed.  If the light remains illuminated, even though the brake fluid level is correct, this may indicate a sensor fault. Do not continue your journey and seek assistance.

ABS Warning Light
If this ABS light comes on while driving it means the ABS computer has diagnosed that something is amiss in the anti-lock breaking system. Normal braking (without ABS) will be generally be maintained and many cars will be safe to drive on, but some will not - check the handbook for advice and get your vehicle checked by a garage as soon as possible.

Brake System and ABS Warning Lights
If both warning lights illuminate at the same time when driving, stop the vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so.
Reduce vehicle speed gradually and immediately move the vehicle to a safe location. Use the brakes with great care. Do not step on the brake pedal abruptly and seek assistance.

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