12 Essential Car Dashboard Symbols Every Driver Should Know

Important Car Dashboard symbols that you should know.

by Ultimate Drivers | 17 January 2023

The instrument cluster’s warning lights advise the driver of any potential problems and safety hazards. In this blog, we are covering some important Car Dashboard symbols that you should know.

When you start your car, every caution light turns on.
But don’t panic; it’s merely a system self-check, and they disappear immediately.
If they start up while you’re driving, here’s what you should know.

How essential/ important is this warning?

High

What does it indicate?

The primary function of the battery is to start the engine. Then, the charging system powers the ignition, lights, and other devices while also recharging the battery.
The charging system is malfunctioning if the warning light illuminates or the gauge drops below 13 volts. This can indicate a broken alternator.


What should you do if the light turns on?

The vehicle can still operate if the charging mechanism malfunctions, but it won’t last very long. Drive to the nearest repair facility after turning off anything that is not necessary, such as the air conditioner or phone charging.

How essential/ important is this warning?
High

What does it indicate?
Your engine is overheating if the sign glows or if the gauge needle enters the red zone.
Usually, there isn’t enough coolant because it has seeped out of a defective radiator, a broken hose, or an imperfect head gasket.
Another possibility is a broken water pump that isn’t circulating coolant through the engine.

What should you do if the light turns on?
When it is safe to do so, stop quickly, and turn off the engine.
An engine that has overheated can sustain serious harm.

How essential/ important is this warning?
High

What does it indicate?
Either there isn’t enough oil in your engine, or the oil pump isn’t working properly.

What should you do if the light turns on?
As soon as you can, pull over and quickly shut off the engine.
Running without oil can harm an engine permanently.
Get the car towed to a repair facility. A “low oil” indication, which may look like an amber oil can, is also present in some automobiles.
Even if it’s not an emergency, you should apply oil as soon as it starts.

How essential/ important is this warning?
Low To High

What does it indicate?
An airbag system issue is indicated by a red symbol.
When no one is seated in the front passenger seat, certain cars have an amber symbol that flashes, signaling that the passenger airbag is unnecessary and won’t deploy in an accident.

What should you do if the light turns on?
Get the vehicle checked as soon as possible if the light is red. The airbags might not activate in a collision or while you’re driving.

How essential/ important is this warning?
High

What does it indicate?
This icon appears when one or more of the car’s doors are improperly closed. Some vehicles will also indicate the precise door that has to be checked once more.

What should you do if the light turns on?
Check all the car’s doors if they are properly closed and if not, close them properly.

How essential/ important is this warning?
High

What does it indicate?
This is the most common warning that occurs while driving a car, which indicates that you are not belted up while driving a car.

What should you do if the light turns on?
You don’t need to be concerned in this situation; simply buckle your seatbelt, and the alert will stop.

How essential/ important is this warning?
Medium To High

What does it indicate?
This suggests that there is an issue with the emissions control system of the car, which might affect the fuel, ignition, and pollution levels.
Minor problems with the catalytic converter, oxygen sensor, fuel injectors, or other parts might also cause this; some cars even have a separate “tighten cap” light.

What should you do if the light turns on?
Make an appointment for service if the light is solid amber but the car is still operating well.
Keep your speed down and have the car serviced as soon as possible if it’s running rough, losing power, or if an amber or red light is blinking.
It can be an issue that harms your pricey catalytic converter.

How essential/ important is this warning?
Medium

What does it indicate?
When a tire’s pressure decreases by around 25% to 30% below the suggested level, the TPMS warning light turns on.

What should you do if the light turns on?
If you have a readout, it will show you which tire is low, but if it’s just a light, you’ll have to check each one to figure out which one it is.
A chart on the driver’s door jamb or in the owner’s handbook will tell you how much air to put in each tire.

How essential/ important is this warning?
Low To Medium

What does it indicate?
Traction control deploys its brake when one tire starts spinning on a slick surface to let the other wheel have more traction.
To assist the car to straighten out, electric stability control brakes the relevant wheels during a skid.

What should you do if the light turns on?
When either system is in use, the light briefly glows or flashes, mostly to alert the driver to slow down.
If you want the wheels to spin to help you get out of deep snow, you can temporarily switch off the traction control.
The traction control will be turned off and you’ll be alerted about this, with a reminder to switch it back on later.
When you’re driving regularly and the traction or stability control warning light comes on, there is a problem with the system and it needs to be serviced.

How essential/ important is this warning?
Medium To High

What does it indicate?
The brake light signals problems such as dangerously worn brake pads or insufficient brake fluid. 
When the parking brake is engaged and released, the brake warning light may illuminate. If it doesn’t, something is wrong.
The ABS alert indicates that the anti-lock brakes are malfunctioning.
In a panic stop, the ABS light will also briefly turn on, however, this is a functional indicator rather than a failure notice.

What should you do if the light turns on?
Take the car in for repairs immediately away, especially if the brake pedal feels spongy or depresses farther than normal, the car stops more slowly, or the brakes sound like they’re grinding or screeching.

How essential/ important is this warning?
High

What does it indicate?
This suggests that there is a power steering issue.
This could be a hydraulic system with low power steering fluid or an electronic power steering system with an electrical problem.

What should you do if the light turns on?
Make your way as soon as you can to a repair shop.
If the power steering system breaks, you will still be able to navigate the car, but it will be quite challenging.

How essential/ important is this warning?
High

What does it indicate?
When the light first turns on, you have between 10% and 15% of petrol left in your tank, depending on the vehicle.

What should you do if the light turns on?
Stop and fill up for more than just the sake of not having to walk home.
The majority of fuel pumps are located inside the tank, and the fuel keeps them cool.
Running low is difficult on the pump and may reduce its lifespan.

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