Do you know what these symbols mean when they light up while you are driving? Here’s a guide to the more common ones.
Engine Temperature Warning Light
What it means: Your engine is overheating.
What to do: Pull over as soon as you safely can. Turn the engine off, allow it to cool down, then check the coolant level. If it is low, top it up with coolant to the recommended level. If you don’t have coolant, top up with water as a temporary measure and get your car to a workshop as soon as possible.
Check Engine Warning Light
What it means: The engine has an issue.
What to do: Any one of a range of issues — faulty electrical sensor, misfire, loose gas cap — could be involved. Get your car checked by your mechanic as soon as possible.
Tyre Pressure Warning
What it means: The tyres are losing pressure or there may be a puncture.
What to do: Pull over and check the tyres for wear and tear. Top up the affected tyre’s pressure — if the warning light persists, there’s a high chance a puncture has occurred, and you’d need to replace the tyre to continue driving. Driving on a flat tyre may cause internal structural damage to the tyre, leading to wheel and vehicle damage.
What it means: The battery needs replacing — batteries usually have a lifespan of around 24 months under normal driving conditions. It could also mean that there’s a fault with the alternator, a major component of the car’s charging system.
What to do: If you’re on the road, turn off anything that draws power from the battery (air conditioner, radio, etc) but not the headlights if you’re driving at night. Keep driving until you reach somewhere safe to stop and seek the advice of your mechanic.
Traction Control Light
What it means: Your car is losing traction and grip.
What to do: Never accelerate hard; slow down to allow your car to regain traction. If the warning light persists, there could be an underlying problem with the traction control system.
Brake Warning Light
What it means: Your car’s handbrake could still be engaged. If the light still stays on after you have released it, it is likely due to low levels of brake fluid or something more severe, such as worn brake pads, a leak in the brake system, or a faulty ABS speed sensor.
What to do: If the light comes on and off intermittently, and there is no change in the feel of the brake pedal, have the vehicle diagnosed by a qualified workshop as soon as possible. If the light is permanently lit, pull to the side of the road when it’s safe and get it towed to the workshop.
Depending on the make and model of your car, some symbols may vary in meaning. Refer to your owner’s manual for a more accurate representation.