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What Do Your Vehicle’s Dash Warning Lights Mean?

All the lights on your vehicle’s dash when you start your engine can sometimes be overwhelming, but assuring you know what the lights mean may save you hassles in the future. Below is a cheat sheet to help you better understand your vehicle dash indicator lights and symbols.

Engine Temperature Warning LightEngine Light

The engine temperature is too high. If you see this light, your vehicle should be stopped and the engine turned off as quickly as possible. Turning on the heater to the highest setting will remove some of the heat as well. Schedule an appointment for your vehicle right away to avoid heat damage to the block of your engine and other overheating issues.

Oil pressure warning light

Oil Pressure
This light should illuminate when the ignition is switched on and should extinguish as soon as the engine starts.
If the light stays on after starting or illuminates during a journey, stop immediately, switch off the engine and check the engine oil level. If low, add oil bringing it up to proper levels right away. If the oil level is correct and the light stays on, do not start the engine and seek assistance.

Battery charge warning light

Battery Alert
This light should illuminate when the ignition is switched on and should extinguish as soon as the engine starts.
If it does not illuminate at all, or if it illuminates while driving, your battery is not being charged as there is a fault with your charging system.
This may be due to one of the following;
– Damaged or loose battery cable
-Broken or loose alternator drive belt
-An alternator failure
If the drive belt is broken, it must be replaced before you restart the engine. The coolant system may rely on this belt and its failure could cause the engine to overheat, in turn causing engine damage.
Immediately move the vehicle to a safe location and switch off the engine. Do not restart the engine and seek assistance. Continuing to try and start or run the engine can cause additional damage.

Brake system warning lightBrake Light

This light will remain illuminated when the handbrake is engaged. Illumination after releasing the handbrake may indicate low brake fluid level.
As the brakes wear the fluid level will slowly drop. Check your brake fluid level frequently to ensure there is no further rapid loss of fluid. Bellingham Automotive is here to help you check all your vehicle fluid levels including brake fluid.
If the brake fluid is too low and brake pedal travel is distinctly longer than usual, one of the two hydraulic brake circuits may have failed. If this happens call Bellingham Automotive right away to schedule an appointment and stay safe. If the light remains illuminated, even though the brake fluid level is correct, this may indicate a sensor fault.

Engine warning lightEngine Light

Illuminates when the ignition is switched on. It should extinguish as soon as the engine starts.
If it illuminates with the engine running, it indicates a malfunction with the engine management system. Have this checked as soon as possible.
If it flashes when driving, reduce the vehicle speed immediately until the light illuminates constantly. If it continues to flash, avoid heavy acceleration and high engine speed, stop the vehicle and have it checked immediately.
On some vehicles this light may be red – again stop the vehicle and seek assistance.
If it is safe to do so, try stopping the vehicle, switching off the engine, wait two minutes, then restarting the engine to reset the engine management system.

With the light illuminated, the vehicle is still safe to drive as long as no other faults are apparent with the engine. Schedule your vehicle for an appointment as soon as possible to avoid engine damage.

ABSABS warning light

When the ignition is switched on, the light illuminates briefly to confirm that the system is operational.If it illuminates when driving, it indicates a malfunction. Have this checked as soon as possible. Normal braking (without ABS) will be generally be maintained and many cars will be safe to drive on, but some will not – it’s important to consult with an automotive service professional about the issue.
Bellingham Automotive is here to help you better understand your vehicle. Call us today or visit our website to schedule an appointment.

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