Car warning lights: what they are and how to recognize them

Having an icon lit in the car’s instrument panel does not automatically tell you what to do: you must first know what that specific fault indicator means.

Here’s how to learn to recognize car warning lights .

The most important car warning light: STOP

STOP light

Do you have a warning light on your car dashboard but you don’t know what it means? Do not worry, but always remember that it is not wise to ignore it just because the car is not behaving abnormally.

So how do you know if you need to worry and go to the mechanic? It is enough to know the meaning of the various car warning lights: first of all, know that the most important is the STOP one . When it comes on, the situation can be “serious” and absolutely must not be ignored.

If the STOP light comes on, you must stop, especially if it flashes; otherwise you can also get to the mechanic (nearby) or call the tow truck.

It is in fact a centralized warning light that lights up in tandem with others: the latter are precisely the ones that give you the real indication of the malfunction of a car component. An example? The temperature, the brake fluid, etc. Let’s get to know them together.

The best known car spies

Battery light

Among the most well-known car warning lights there is certainly that of the battery : this symbol , a rectangle with + and – , if on, tells you to have the vehicle checked immediately, to avoid staying on foot.

Handbrake warning light

Another well-known warning light is also very important: it is the one with the exclamation point in a circle , which generally indicates the handbrake on , but not only. In fact, this icon also identifies electronic anomalies in braking and in the brake fluid itself .

ABS warning light

When it comes on, you have to go to the mechanic (except in the case of the handbrake pulled by mistake), especially if it happens together with that of the ABS . Furthermore, if it is switched on above 12 km / h speed it indicates a malfunction. Remember that it is often accompanied by an audio signal .

Engine failure warning light

Surely you have already seen the symbol in the shape of an engine : this indicates self-diagnosis, and it is a problem if it stays on steadily (to learn more, read the engine failure light on, fixed what to do ).

Airbag warning light

Other easily identifiable warning lights are those of the airbag : the writing or the little man on the passenger seat indicate that these devices are deactivated or do not work well.

Refueling warning light

Another classic icon on all dashboards is that of petrol : the symbol is the distributor but also just a simple light. Once turned on it is time to refuel: the maximum range will in fact be a maximum of 50 km (in optimal conditions, therefore usually less).

Seat belt warning light

And the spy with the little man and the belt ? Fasten your seat belts !

Important but lesser known auto spies

Engine oil warning light

There are other important spies than those listed, which are often less well known: an example? That of engine oil temperature and pressure : these are those in which you see an oil container with a drop, often accompanied by an acoustic signal (to learn more, read also the engine oil warning light on what to do ).

Coolant warning light

What if the problem is with the temperature and level of the coolant ? In this case, the light on will be the one with a water-like symbol and a tool above it. In this case, first let the engine cool down and then (if necessary) add liquid.

The triangle with a symbol in the middle indicates the dynamic stability control: if the warning light stays on, a check is needed by the mechanic.

Remember that, except in the case of known warning lights, every time an indicator on the dashboard lights up, it is advisable to go to the mechanic as soon as possible.


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