Car care advice

Warning Lights: What Do They Mean?

Warning lights are lights on the instrument panel/dashboard of a vehicle that alert the driver when something is wrong. Depending on the light and the severity of the problem, you may or may not notice performance issues. Warning lights can be serious in nature, such as the Check Engine Light, or more benign, such as the parking brake light.

It is normal for the lights to illuminate briefly when the vehicle is started, but if they stay on or begin to flash, you should take the vehicle into a repair shop to get it checked out. You should never ignore a warning light. Some of them indicate serious problems with your vehicle that could render it unsafe to drive.

Warning Light

Description

ABS Warning Light
The ABS warning light—anti-lock/anti-skid brake warning system—will come on when there is some type of fault condition with either the ABS brake system or the normal service brake system. It can also come on if the brake fluid level is low in either the master cylinder reservoir and/or the ABS brake system reservoir (if equipped).
ABS Warning Light
The ABS warning light—anti-lock/anti-skid brake warning system—will come on when there is some type of fault condition with either the ABS brake system or the normal service brake system. It can also come on if the brake fluid level is low in either the master cylinder reservoir and/or the ABS brake system reservoir (if equipped).
Brake Fluid Level Warning Light
When the brake fluid falls below a specified level, the brake fluid level warning light will illuminate (in some cases, a message is displayed on the dashboard). The warning indicator will come on while the brake system still has enough fluid to properly function. This way, it acts as a precursor to the brake hydraulic system red warning light, which indicates a potentially catastrophic failure of the brake hydraulic system.
Brake Hydraulic System Red Warning Light
An illuminated brake hydraulic system red warning light means that there is a problem with the brake hydraulic system. If the light is intermittent and seems to come on and off depending on whether the vehicle is turning, it may mean that the brake fluid level is getting low. If the brake hydraulic system red warning light comes on and stays on, this indicates that there is a persistent problematic issue with the brake hydraulic system. The warning light can come on when a change in system hydraulic pressure is detected.
Brake Hydraulic System Red Warning Light
An illuminated brake hydraulic system red warning light means that there is a problem with the brake hydraulic system. If the light is intermittent and seems to come on and off depending on whether the vehicle is turning, it may mean that the brake fluid level is getting low. If the brake hydraulic system red warning light comes on and stays on, this indicates that there is a persistent problematic issue with the brake hydraulic system. The warning light can come on when a change in system hydraulic pressure is detected.
Parking Brake Warning Light
The parking brake warning light will come on if the parking brake is applied or not fully released. If the parking brake light does not go off after the parking brake lever has been released, jiggle the handle to make sure that the mechanical part of the parking brake system has been completely relaxed. If the parking brake light stays on, have the vehicle properly diagnosed and inspected at a qualified repair shop.

Next: Charging System (Battery) and Engine Temperature Warning Lights >>


 

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