Warning Lights: What They Mean For Your Car
Posted February 28, 2014
We have all been there – starting up the car to see a flashing yellow or red symbol on the dashboard. Before you panic over an unfamiliar symbol, there are some simple steps you can take to address these common warning lights:
Battery/Charging Alert – This symbol indicates that the battery charge, or voltage level, is below its normal level. There may be an issue with your vehicle’s charging system or your battery may need to be replaced.
Things you can do: Check the condition of your battery. If you have a battery tester, you should check the voltage level. Also check the battery connection and terminals for residue – this buildup can be cleaned to restore proper charging. If your battery continues to not function properly, bring your vehicle to an auto repair shop to have the issue properly diagnosed.
ABS Light – This symbol indicates an error with the Anti-lock Brake Systems (ABS). The ABS prevents the wheels from skidding when you slow down, giving the tires more traction so you can stop faster and steer while you brake. This warning light comes on when the Anti-lock Brake computer has set a code.
Things you can do: Make an appointment for a professional diagnosis. In some cases, the ABS may shut itself off until the problem is solved. You can still brake normally, but run an increased risk of skidding and losing control of the vehicle, so bring your car in to an ASE certified technician as soon as possible.
Check Engine – This symbol can also be the Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL). This light comes on when the vehicle computer has set a Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC). These codes can represent any number of problems. Identifying the DTC usually requires a professional scan tool.
Things you can do: Check your gas cap. This warning light will often appear if your gas cap is loose or missing. If you recently filled up, make sure you tightened the gas cap completely and the cover is closed. If your light continues to stay on, it is time to make an appointment to diagnose the error. Your vehicle’s oxygen sensor, catalytic converter, mass airflow sensor, spark plugs or plug wires may all be possible causes and may need to be replaced.
Service Engine Soon – Like the Check Engine symbol, this warning light can also indicate a number of different issues. Most often, this light serves as a reminder to change your engine oil.
Things you can do: Check your mileage since your last oil change, and if needed, have an oil change performed on your vehicle. Check the maintenance schedule in your user manual to identify other potential issues. Make an appointment to have your vehicle thoroughly inspected by a car repair facility.
Remember, warning lights can vary between vehicles, so check your user manual for the meaning of your car’s specific symbols. If you are ever uncertain about the meaning of a warning light, check your manual or give us a call at 651.426.0462!