…and what to do when they come on



How many times have you been driving and have been alarmed by a dashboard light coming on? Without knowing what they mean, it’s hard to know the severity of the issue and how to get it fixed.

We have provided a comprehensive list of the eight most important engine warning lights to look out for across all car models. Not all warning lights are universal however, so a read of your manufacturers manual is also advised.



engine-warning-iconThe ECU/Engine Warning Light could indicate something as small as a missing fuel cap, but when accompanied with some unusual symptoms it is likely indicating a bigger problem. These symptoms could range from a sudden lack of power, or the engine stuttering, and can indicate a number of issues such as a failed spark plug to a faulty catalytic converter. In any case, it’s essential to take your car straight to a mechanic to get checked out as driving further could cause further irreparable damage to the car, and most importantly could compromise your safety.



brakes-warning-iconArguably the most important light, this symbol could indicate a serious brake problem or a minor one. However it could simply mean that your emergency brake or hand brake is engaged so be sure to check this first. For obvious safety reasons, your braking system needs to be check regularly, but also because it can lead to expensive repairs if not maintained.  When the light comes on, bring your vehicle to a stop as soon as you can as driving with Zooming blue bar image for Drayton MOT Centrefaulty brakes can be extremely dangerous. 



This light indicates there could be something wrong with the power steering system. You might feel the steering getting heavier and the wheel harder to turn. It’s not necessarily an emergency but it certainly decreases the safety of your car as the power steering system enables for quick manoeuvres to avoid accidents.



This light indicates that there is a fault with your airbag. This not only means that the air bag likely won’t deploy in the case of an accident, but it could also mean that it might deploy randomly, potentially posing a major risk to the driver and passengers.



This light could either be a helpful prompt to remind you to fill up your engine’s coolant, or it could be a more serious warning that your car is overheating. A light that goes well into red could be indicating something like a head gasket failure, electric cooling fan failure, a broken fan belt, or a clogged radiator. When the light comes on, it’s best to pull your car over safely when possible to make sure the car doesn’t overheat. Whilst you find somewhere to pull over, you can turn your cars heaters up to the max as this will redirect the heat from the engine. Get the problem seen to quickly to avoid a potentially more expensive repair in the future.



Simply put, oil is the lifeblood of your car. It’s what keeps the whole system lubricated, so with not enough oil circulating around the vehicle it could cause major engine failure. This oil warning light could indicate either that your car’s oil temperature is too high, the oil is low, or the oil pressure is low and it’s the latter you really want to avoid. Filling your oil up at regular intervals is the best way to keep on top of the problem, but it’s advisable to get the car checked over by a mechanic as there could be a fault in the oil pump.



Most drivers will be familiar with this light as it often follows a ‘doh’ moment of realising you left the light on inside the car. If the light doesn’t go out once the engine is turned on, it could indicate a fault in the cars electrical system. It could be to do with a faulty alternator, faulty battery, a bad connection or damaged cabling somewhere in the engine bay. If your car isn’t charging its battery when moving (the job of the alternator), then you could eventually run out of electrical power and grind to a halt. Take it in to the garage and your mechanic will be able to diagnose the fault and advise on how to fix the problem.




The ABS light comes on whenever there is a fault in the anti-lock braking system in a vehicle. The fault can be a low amount of fluid in the ABS reservoir to an electrical malfunction in the wheel speed sensor, control unit or the pump, but regular braking function is unaffected. Repair involves testing or replacing control unit and pump, the wheel speed sensors or power cycling the entire system.


It’s important to check the indicator lights on your vehicle’s dashboard instrument panel regularly.  Though your vehicle may still run fine, or may seem to run fine, it’s best to get checked out if a light is on.

How can we HELP?

If you have an dashboard light flashing and are unsure of the next step, then pop in to see us and we will help diagnose the problem. Regular servicing and maintenance of your can help protect your vehicle from firing off a fault and therefore save you having to repair expensive components of your car.

Monday to Friday 08:30-17:30 | Saturday 08:30-12:30 | Sunday Closed
192 Havant Road, Drayton Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO6 2EH
023 92 214 412