Dashboard Diagnostics


4 Common Dashboard Symbols & What They Really Mean

October is Fall Car Care Awareness Month. In recognition of this occasion, we want to take a look at one of the most misunderstood parts of any vehicle: the dashboard lights. What do these mean? What should you do when certain symbols light up? While we can't take a look at every symbol, we'll look at a few of the common ones, starting with the most confusing symbol of all, the check engine light.

CHECK ENGINE LIGHT This light, which looks like a little motor, is the source of a lot of frustration. When it comes on, you may feel a sense of panic. What are you supposed to do? If this light comes on, it means the vehicle's computer detected a malfunction. There are many devices on the market (car code readers) you can plug into your car that will give you a code indicating what the problem is. You can look up the code online. However, if this light comes on and you are concerned, your best bet is to take your vehicle to a car care professional who can tell you what the problem is so you can take care of it (and stop worrying).

ENGINE TEMPERATURE WARNING This symbol looks like a thermometer in water. If this lights up, it means your engine temperature is well above normal. It may mean you need to check coolant levels for coolant leaks. Additionally, make sure the engine fan is running properly and the radiator cap is secure. If you check these items and the light remains on, further professional diagnostics and repair may be needed.

OIL PRESSURE WARNING This light looks like an oil can. If you can see this on your dash, it’s a sign your vehicle’s engine has lost oil pressure or there is a lack of proper lubrication in the system. Check your oil level and pressure ASAP! Not addressing this can result in serious damage to engine components and a costly repair bill.

TIRE PRESSURE WARNING This is another common light drivers will see. It looks like a cutaway of a tire with an exclamation mark. When this light comes on, it means the tire pressure in one or more of your tires is low. However, many drivers will address the issue only to see the symbol remain lit up on their dashboard. Why is this? A lot of newer vehicles, especially those built in the last 10 years, also gauge the pressure of the spare tire. Don’t forget about the fifth tire!

It’s important as a driver to have the knowledge of what each dashboard symbol means so that if and/or when they come on you know how to handle the situation properly. We are always available to assist with these issues to find the best solution and prevent any further damage to your vehicle and protect your wallet from costly repairs.

Learn more about the services we offer. And if your dashboard light is on, or comes on, be sure to contact us at either of our shop locations!