Dash Warning Lights: What You Need To Know


The warning lights on your car can save more than you know.

Your car wants to be healthy and it wants to run well. While all cars have many more sensors and high tech equipment than they did just a decade ago, they are still susceptible to many of the same problems. The good news is that your car will now inform you when these problems take place.

According to a recent survey from Schrader International, a large number of drivers, 43 percent, are unable to recognize the low tire pressure warning light, which is a serious safety alert. There are also a vast number of people who actually believe that simply ignoring warning lights is ok to do … NOT!


We’ve compiled a list of the five most important warning lights that can go on in your car. The three below are extremely important to watch for. Understanding your instrument cluster will help you take the proper steps to remedy common issues before they result in unnecessarily expensive repairs to your car.


  • Check Engine Warning Light.
    • The Check Engine Light is a warning that responds to a signal sent to your onboard computer. One of the systems relating to the emissions on your car is telling the computer that something is not performing properly.


It can be a single issue, like a loose fuel cap; or it can be a combination of issues like an engine misfire and a large air intake leak. In any case, it is serious and needs immediate attention.


Note: Your car will not pass State Inspection if this warning light is on.


  • Low Battery Warning Light:
    • The life of a car battery depends entirely on the car manufacturer and the battery manufacturer. More and more, battery life is good for about 2 to 3 years. I some cases, batteries can last up to five years, but it depends on how much you drive your car and how often you “start” your car. Some of the more luxury vehicles have more than one battery. All hybrid cars have more than one battery.


When a low battery warning light turns on, it’s important to get the system tested immediately to avoid getting stranded somewhere because the car won’t start. Otherwise, you could end up adding the cost of a tow bill to the cost of replacing a battery. Low battery voltage can also affect engine performance because all of the sensors must have a constant voltage signal.


  • Temperature Warning Light:                                                 
    • When your temperature gauge goes too high,
    • or a warning light turns on, your car probably has a coolant leak, bad water pump or faulty thermostat. Driving a car with cooling problems can cause the engine to overheat, which can destroy the gaskets within the engine or even cause the delicate metal components to warp.


An overheated engine can cost thousands of dollars to be rebuilt or replaced. Unless that’s a risk you want to take, I recommend you have your car towed to Marshall Motors to have one of our technicians find the problem as soon as the temperature warning light comes on. This may sound a bit drastic, but a tow charge costs a whole lot less than replacing a motor.


If any of the above warning lights come on, call us immediately and we’ll help you figure out if you can drive the car or if you should have it towed.

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