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Understanding Dashboard Warning Lights: Your Guide to What They Mean and What to Do


Imagine you’re driving, and suddenly a warning light illuminates on your dashboard. It's an experience many drivers know too well, and it often brings a sense of uncertainty and anxiety. These lights are there for a reason – to alert you to potential issues with your vehicle. Understanding what these symbols mean and how to respond can save you from costly repairs and keep you safe on the road. Let's decode these cryptic icons and turn confusion into clarity.

This is perhaps the most notorious of dashboard lights, often symbolized by an engine outline. It can indicate a range of issues, from a loose gas cap to a more severe engine malfunction.

What to Do:

  • Check if your gas cap is loose or missing. If that’s not the case, it's advisable to have a professional diagnose the issue. Driving with the check engine light on can be risky, as you may not know the severity of the problem.

Represented by an old-fashioned oil can, this light warns you when there's a drop in your engine's oil pressure. Adequate oil pressure is critical for keeping engine components lubricated.

What to Do:

  • Stop the vehicle as soon as it's safe and check the oil level. If it's low, adding oil might help, but it's important to understand why the level was low. If the oil level is fine, it could be an issue with the oil pump or other components, which requires immediate professional attention.

This light, often displayed as a thermometer submerged in liquid, indicates that your engine is overheating – a serious concern that can lead to engine damage.

What to Do:

  • Turn off your air conditioning and turn on the heater to its highest setting. This can help draw some heat away from the engine. Pull over and turn off the engine as soon as it’s safe. Check the coolant level once the engine has cooled down, but never open a hot radiator cap, as it can cause severe burns.

A circle with an exclamation mark, often in red, signifies a problem with your car’s brake system. This could range from low brake fluid to a brake system malfunction.

What to Do:

  • Check your brake fluid and refill it if necessary. If the light remains on, it's crucial to get your brakes checked immediately. Driving with compromised brakes is a serious safety risk.

5. The Battery Charge Warning: Power Supply Problems

This light looks like a battery with a plus and minus sign. It illuminates when there’s an issue with your car’s electrical charging system.

What to Do:

  • This could indicate a dying battery or a problem with the alternator. It's wise to have it checked by a professional as soon as possible, as the car could stop running or fail to start if the issue persists.


Dashboard warning lights are not just indicators; they are vital messages from your car to you. Understanding them can make the difference between a minor fix and a major repair. Always pay attention to these alerts and act promptly. And remember, when in doubt, it’s best to consult with professionals like those at MJN Automotive, who can diagnose and fix the issue accurately.

Stay tuned for our next post, where we will delve into another intriguing aspect of automotive care. Safe driving and see you soon!

Contact Us:

For more insights or professional assistance with your vehicle, visit MJN Automotive's website or contact us at (02) 4421 6090.



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