What are all the light symbols on your car's dashboard meanings

What are all the light symbols on your car’s dashboard meanings

All cars have a range of dashboard warning lights that refer to different systems, like oil pressure or engine management lights. When you turn on the ignition in some cars, these lights will appear for seconds before disappearing. There may be a fault with your car if one or more of these warning lights remain on while the engine is running.

The severity of the problem is indicated by the color of the warning lights on the dashboard, which range from red to amber to green to blue. Blue and green warning lights are less worrisome; we recommend that you take the same preventative measures as you would for more severe warnings to avoid causing more damage to your car: quickly stop at a safe location and consult your car’s owner’s manual for more information before continuing on your journey.

Some issues may be simple to resolve and not necessarily severe, such as a low windscreen washer fluid alert. A professional should check other critical defects indicated by red and amber warning lights as soon as possible, especially if they involve the brakes, engine, oil, or gearbox. Warning lights are mostly universal across all makes and models of cars, although their positions on the dashboard may differ. Read your car’s owner’s manual to know what each of these warning lights means. Meanwhile, let’s walk you through the most significant ones down below;

Check engine light

Check engine car light symbol

If this warning light appears, it’s necessary to get your car checked, even if everything seems to be in perfect working order. This is because it notifies you of a potential engine problem, which you’ll want to prevent at all costs. This light might appear for various reasons, so while it’s most likely only a malfunctioning sensor or another small issue, a proper diagnosis is essential to avoid further damage.

Oil pressure warning light

low Oil pressure warning car light symbol

Apart from the brake warning light, the oil warning light is one of the most red flag warning lights, so it is red. The oil pump keeps the engine oil flowing, and the amount of oil in the engine generates oil pressure. Damage to the engine can be caused by a leak, a broken pump, or too little (or even too much) oil, resulting in high repair costs.

While you should know how to check the fluids in your car,  never neglect any warning light, this one is extremely crucial to pay attention to; turn off the engine and examine the owner’s manual right away. You may only need to top up the oil to turn off the light; if it stays on, there could be a much more serious problem that requires a visit to the mechanic.

Brake system warning light

Brake system warning car light dashboard symbol

This brake system warning light, likewise red, requires immediate attention. It’s possible that you left the handbrake partially engaged while pulling away, so make sure it’s fully disengaged – some cars’ parking brakes are indicated by the letter ‘P’ rather than an exclamation point. If this doesn’t work or the warning light comes on while you’re driving, pull over and call for help or have the car towed to the mechanic. It’s possible that the brake fluid level is low and has to be refilled or that a brake pad wear sensor is malfunctioning. It could, however, be a more serious problem with the brake system. While you can’t take the risk either way, if the pedal feels spongy or sinks to the floor when you press it, you can tell there’s a serious problem, and the car should not be driven any farther.

Battery charge warning light

Battery charge warning light

This warning light might signal a range of problems with the car’s battery and charging system. This is particularly worrisome at night because a bad battery might cause the headlights to fail. Without the battery or charging system supplying electricity, power steering, braking servos, or the engine itself may fail to perform.

A bad battery could be the warning light source, which will need to be replaced. However, it could also result from a wiring issue or, more potentially, an issue with the alternator or drive belt. Dim headlights or a difficult-to-start engine are other indicators of a failing battery. Most mechanics can diagnose the problem with your car’s battery and charging system.

Temperature warning light

Temperature warning car dashboard light

This is a relatively self-explanatory one. If the light comes on after starting the car, the engine is too hot, or there is not enough coolant (also known as antifreeze) in the system. This could be caused by various factors, all of which could leave you trapped. The car’s radiator may be leaking, blocked, or broken; if this is the case, coolant will be leaking out. A defective water pump could also be the fault.

A blown head gasket is more serious, and if the engine isn’t turned off immediately, it can result in severe failure. White smoke from the exhaust system could indicate a blown head gasket. Some cars may also have a blue version of these lights. In any case, if you see this light, stop the car immediately to avoid engine breakdown If your car is continuously overheating, you should take it to a mechanic.

Low-fuel warning light

Low-fuel warning car light dashboard symbol

We’ll go over this even though it’s relatively self-explanatory. When the quantity of fuel in the tank reaches a certain level, this warning light appears. It’ll generally come up when your range is about 50-70 miles, and it’s designed to give you enough time to find a petrol station. Running out of fuel will not cause any mechanical damage; however, stopping on the road because you are out of fuel is unlawful. If you run out of diesel, you’ll need to bleed the air out of the fuel lines and injectors before starting the engine. That means it’s more than just refilling from a can.

Tyre-pressure sensor warning

Tyre-pressure sensor warning

Tyre-pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) are becoming more prevalent; car manufacturers have been required to install the system for the past few years. It keeps track of how much air is in the tyres at all times. It will issue a warning if it detects a fall. This is critical because low tyre pressures can impair braking and handling, and a rapid fall in pressure can result in a deadly blowout at high speeds. You’ll need to check and pump the tyre if the TPMS system alerts you to low pressure. You’ll need to replace the wheel or use a puncture repair kit if it has a visible puncture.

Traction-control warning light

Traction-control car warning light

When the tyres lose grip, generally in the rain or snow, your car’s traction-control warning light will display. It serves as a visual indicator that you’re approaching your grip’s limit. If it is on continuously, it’s likely because it’s been deactivated – either due to a malfunction or because you turned off the system. If the former is true, you should have the system checked; you should turn the system back on if the latter is true.

Glow plug warning light (diesel only)

Glow plug warning car dashboard light symbol(diesel only)

Diesel vehicles, unlike gasoline cars, do not require a spark to ignite the air/fuel mixture to start the engine. Alternatively, they use compression and temperature to get the mixture to a state of combustion. Glow plugs are used to increase the heat in diesel engines. Glow plug problems can cause early and/or late combustion (known as ‘knocking’), even if you don’t detect anything wrong at first. Your engine will sound a little noisy and will not operate as smoothly or effectively as it should, resulting in a decrease in fuel economy.

Seatbelt warning light

seatbelt warning light meaning

The majority of the new cars now include a mechanism that alerts you if your passengers are not wearing their seatbelts. There will typically be a light to warn you if this is the case. Cars employ pressure sensors in the seats and seat belts to alert you if there is too much weight on a seat and the seatbelt isn’t fastened. A sound may also accompany these alerts.

Door / boot / bonnet warning lights

Door  boot  bonnet warning lights

Like the seatbelt light, these lights don’t always indicate that something is wrong with the car (except the sensor that sends the signal to the light is faulty). Rather, they notify you that one of the openings is open, whether a door, boot, or bonnet. It is often obvious when loading the weekly groceries into the boot or fastening your children in the back seats. On the other hand, these lights can alert you if a door, boot, or bonnet hasn’t been properly closed and is just loosely closed, making them quite handy.

Service engine soon 

Service Engine Soon car light dashboard symbol

The question of “what service engine” displays light means on the car’s dashboard is one over a decade. Yes, a lot of people still don’t understand the meaning of this light and often confuse it with the “check engine light. While the Check engine might indicate a problem with your engine, the service engine warning light could indicate different problems which are usually minor issues. In some cars, this light means your engine or car is due for service. It can also indicate that there is lighting or electrical problems.

ABS (anti lock braking system) warning light

ABS (anti lock braking system) warning light

The ABS ( Anti Lock Braking system) is a standard feature in most modern cars. This technology is placed by car manufacturers as an extra measure to keep the driver safe by preventing the wheels of the vehicle from locking when you use the brakes in an emergency. So, the ABS warning light symbol on the dashboard is an indication to the driver of a suspected ABS problem. 

Cruise control light

Cruise control light

When the cruise control system is turned on but no speed has been set, the cruise control light will usually become orange. This indicator will become green once a speed has been chosen.

Security alert light

Security Alert Light

The Security Alert Light shines to indicate whether the security system is functioning properly or if there is a problem with it.

Overdrive off light

Overdrive Off Light

If the overdrive off indicator light is displayed, your vehicle’s overdrive is disabled. This is usually done while approaching city limits or travelling at speeds below 40 mph to prevent the overdrive system from enabling itself. This is a standard safety precaution to guarantee that your car does not shift gears faster than it should.

Washer fluid warning light

Washer Fluid Warning Light

Your windshield washer fluid is low, as indicated by this warning light. Simply check your windshield washer fluid and fill the tank if necessary to clear this warning light.

Reduced power warning light

Reduced Power Warning Light

One of the most misinterpreted warning lights on a car is the low engine power warning light. It always confuses drivers because it appears at various times and for a variety of reasons. Something has restricted the flow of gasoline and/or air to the engine, as indicated by this warning light. It usually illuminates when a car need maintenance or repair; it does not indicate that your vehicle is ready to break down, but it may indicate that it is time for an oil change. When debris blocks one of the air intake valves, the engine’s performance is diminished. In that instance, the reduced engine power light will illuminate and remain illuminated until the problem is resolved.

Gas cap warning light

Gas Cap Warning Light

This means the gas cap is fitted wrongly. The computer has identified a leak in the system, which is usually caused by a loose gas cap, if your gas cap light is on. If this light illuminates while driving, pull over to a safe location and replace the cap. Keep driving regularly with the light on, and it should turn off in a day or two. Inspect the gas cap for any damage and replace it if necessary if the light does not turn off.

Lamp out warning light

Lamp Out Warning Light

When you see the symbol above, it usually means that one of the headlight bulbs of your car or other bulbs like the navigation lights are burned out or defective. To fix this problem, the first thing you want to do is to check your car Lights by switching on each bulb to determine the defective bulb. After identifying the buld, turn off the car’s engine and replace the burnout bulb. When you are done, switch on the engine and check if the lamp out warning light will display again. 

Fog lamp light

Fog Lamp Light

When the fog lights are turned on, an indicator light on your dashboard will turn on, just like your regular headlights. If your car has rear fog lights, there will be two lights on the dashboard, one for each direction. The front light indication, like the headlight indicator, is normally light green in color and faces to the left. The rear indication is usually amber or orange in color, and it points to the right.

Airbag light

Airbag light

The airbag light indicates that the seatbelts or airbags are malfunctioning. This indicates that driving with the airbag light on is probably not a good idea. It is recommended that you have your car towed to the mechanic rather than driving it yourself if it remains illuminated in your car. After all, if the airbags don’t deploy and you get into a car accident while driving to get it fixed, you’ll be in far more danger of injury or death. Because determining the cause isn’t always easy, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.

Automatic shift lock (or Engine start indicator)

Automatic Shift Lock (or Engine Start Indicator)

It simply implies that the brakes must be applied to either start the engine or shift the car out of neutral.

Automatic gearbox warning light

Automatic Gearbox Warning Light

If your car detects any unusual sensor readings, a code will be logged, and the automatic gear box indicator light will illuminate to warn the driver of potential problems. Sensors that aren’t working properly will produce incorrect readings, causing the light to turn on, so get them checked again. The transmission fluid temperature being greater than normal is one of the most prevalent reasons that cause this indicator light to illuminate.

Trailer tow hitch warning light

Trailer Tow Hitch Warning Light

The trailer tow hitch warning light might illuminate for a variety of reasons. This light may signal that the tow hitch is unlocked or that there is a problem with the lighting system, depending on the vehicle. There may also be an indicator on some vehicles to indicate that there is an additional load on the lighting circuit. Because of changes in the overall circuit load, improper lighting system modifications can cause this light to turn on. When you notice that this light has come on, check and make sure everything was installed properly if you changed the types of bulbs used in any of the lights or added more lights to your car.

Catalytic converter warning light

Catalytic Converter Warning Light

This light is designed to alert the driver if the catalytic converter is overheated or not functioning properly. A honeycomb arrangement on the inside of the catalytic converter increases the surface area in contact with the air. Over time, the metal might corrode and block the perforations, resulting in overheating concerns due to a lack of airflow. The oxygen sensors can also fail, causing the computer to believe the converter isn’t working correctly.

Brake pad warning light

Brake pad warning light

It simply means your brake pads need to be changed. Your car will activate this warning light on the dashboard when it detects that the brake pads have reached a specific amount of wear, suggesting that it’s time to replace your brake pads. Do not disregard this light if it appears in your car.

Power steering warning light

Power steering warning light

The light indicates that the power steering system has failed and that you should look into the problem. The reason for this varies depending on the type of power steering system in your vehicle. The most typical cause of this problem with hydraulic power steering systems is a leak in the system resulting in a low fluid level. It means a low level of power steering fluid or power steering system may be disabled. 

Distance warning light

Distance warning light

When this light illuminates, it means that the computer has spotted a fast-approaching object in the road ahead of you. This might be anything from a car to a massive object on the road. If there are no cars ahead of you, keep an eye out for anything on the ground. The light should go out once you’ve slowed down or passed the thing. Keep in mind that this system looks at how quickly you’re approaching an object in front of you, not just how far away it is.

Air suspension warning light

Air Suspension Warning Light

If the car’s computer detects any unusual activity, the air suspension warning light will illuminate. This usually happens if the compressor isn’t pumping out as much air as it should or if one of the bags has a leak. The computer detects a leak in one of the bags by lowering the ride height, which is sensed by the height sensor. Before replacing a bag, have the height sensors examined because they can malfunction and give an incorrect reading, causing the warning light to activate.

Fuel filter warning light

Fuel filter warning light

A fluid level sensor is located inside the gasoline filter and keeps track of the amount of water collected. The fuel filter warning light will illuminate when the level reaches maximum capacity, alerting you to empty the filter. When a valve at the bottom of the filter is opened on a manual system, the water drains out. If your filter empties automatically and the light illuminates, it means that an issue or malfunction has been recognized and should be examined as quickly as possible. This signal could indicate that the drain is clogged and the system is unable to clear itself.

Frost warning light

Frost Warning Light

Depending on the temperature outdoors, this light is illuminated in two stages. When the outside air temperature drops below 35 degrees Fahrenheit, the light goes on. Even though water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, this warning light will illuminate before that threshold to alert the driver that ice may be forming. The light will be amber in color at this point. As the temperature drops, the light will turn red, indicating that the outdoor temperature is below freezing and that ice is a distinct possibility.

Steering lock warning light

Steering Lock Warning Light

This warning light means that the steering lock system has been activated to avoid theft. Don’t confuse the steering lock indicator light with the power steering warning light, which indicates a real steering problem. Insert the key into the ignition and turn it to at least the first position while twisting the steering wheel in either direction to turn off the steering lock. It shouldn’t take much force to turn and unlock the steering wheel using the key. When the ignition is turned off and the lock is engaged, the steering lock indicator light should illuminate. If it appears at any other time, you should have your vehicle inspected by a trained technician.

Air filter warning light

Air Filter Warning Light

This dashboard light serves only one purpose: to alert the driver about a decrease in engine airflow. If this light illuminates, the air filter should be replaced or at the very least serviced. After replacing the filter, you may need to use a reset button to turn off the warning light. To find the placement of the button, consult your car’s owner’s manual or conduct an online search. If replacing the filter and resetting the button does not turn off the light, there is most likely a connection issue someplace that is causing the false positive. Examine and test the connections and cables linked with the air filter minder with a professional expert.

Speed limiter light

Speed Limiter Light

The speed limit of the vehicle has been exceeded. The speed limiter appears on the dashboard with dashes to indicate that the feature has been activated and is waiting to memorize a limit speed.

Winter Mode Light

winter mode warning light meanings

The indicator light on the dash will glow when you activate winter mode, indicating that it is now operational. Deactivate the winter mode by pressing the button again, and the light should turn off immediately. If this indicator light flashes, it means there’s a problem and you won’t be able to use winter mode. In this situation, get the car diagnosed by a specialist to identify the issue and have any necessary repairs completed as soon as possible.

Rain and light sensor warning light

Rain and Light Sensor Warning Light

It means that either the automatic headlamp system or the automatic wiper system is malfunctioning. This light is usually yellow, but it might change depending on the vehicle, so check your owner’s manual to see what it looks like for yours. When illuminated, the computer has detected a problem, and the systems will be momentarily turned off. Even with this light turned on, you will be able to manually adjust your lights and wipers. In addition, a code will be kept to aid in the identification of the issue. Sensor failure or replacing the windshield with non-factory glass are two common causes of difficulties. These sensors are positioned inside the windshield glass, as previously stated, and if you do not purchase the suitable type of glass, these systems will not function properly.

Rear spoiler warning light

Rear Spoiler Warning Light

This warning light means the spoiler system is malfunctioning. A defect with the spoiler system has been detected, as shown by the rear spoiler warning light. To avoid any potential damage, the system will be momentarily turned off. A code will be saved to help detect any faults so you’ll need to scan your automobile using a diagnostic kit. The problem is usually minor, such as a loose or broken connector or a blown fuse. Leaks can occur occasionally, and the motor itself can fail, but this is rare. Once you’ve completed any necessary repairs, the system should function properly again.

Eco driving indicator light

Eco Driving Indicator Light

This indicates that the engine is near to its maximum MPG. The Eco Driving Indicator Light will illuminate during eco-friendly acceleration (Eco driving). The light turns off if the vehicle’s acceleration reaches the Zone of Eco Driving or if the vehicle is halted. The Eco Driving Indicator is a feature that may be turned on or off to improve fuel economy. For more information, consult your owner’s manual.

Adaptive light system warning light

adaptive light system warning light

This warning light could signal a few things depending on the type of adaptive lighting in your vehicle. For particular information about your vehicle’s lighting systems, consult its owner’s manual. Light sensors are often positioned in the windshield of headlights that turn on automatically or adjust brightness. If the system doesn’t seem to be working well, clear the windshield since dirt and debris can stop these sensors from sensing light adequately. Direction-changing headlights use yaw and pitch sensors to establish the vehicle’s position before using motors to modify the lamps. This warning indicator can turn on due to a faulty sensor or any issues with the motors’ operation.

DPF light (Diesel)

DPF Light (Diesel)

The DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) light illuminates to alert you to a problem with your vehicle’s diesel particulate filter. Since 2009, this device has been installed on diesel cars to minimize the quantity of soot discharged through the exhaust system, hence cutting emissions. This soot is hazardous to one’s health and can cause respiratory issues.

DEF light (Diesel)

DEF Light Diesel car symbol

Your vehicle’s computer will switch on the associated warning light when the level of diesel exhaust fluid reaches a threshold level. The DEF light will remain illuminated until the fluid container is refilled.


With a solid knowledge of your dashboard warning lights, you can easily take care of your car before little faults develop into huge problems. But how about those warnings that don’t display on your dashboard such as oxidized Headlight lens? Well, when you check your car headlight lenses and they look oxidized, don’t wait till they Impede your headlight beam or vision. Make use of a headlight restoration kit to remove any oxidation. 

Like this article? Share it with others!
More on our blog
How to test headlight relay
Car Headlights

How to test headlight relay

Automobile headlight systems are only marginally more sophisticated than your home’s light switches, despite how intricate they may seem. The electrical circuit between your home’s […]

Read More…

Read More »

Table of content

click on the flag to change language please.

Russian spanish German French Italian Arabic Japan Philippines Romanian Moldova Turkey Portuguese Portuguese netherlands swedish vietnamese Finnish Bulgarian Greek