Sometimes it’s a faulty sensor, but sometimes it’s something far more serious. Here are the lights you need to know about and what they mean…
Airbag Warning Light
A faulty airbag is a pretty terrifying thought. Worst case scenario, you crash your car (or are crashed into) and you’re offered no protection from the dashboard ahead of you. Alternatively, a faulty airbag could trigger itself out of the blue, and those things are explosively charged and not as cloud-like as you would imagine. Not to mention extremely expensive to replace…
Faulty Brake System
Yeah, self-explanatory really. As soon as you see this light you need to have your car looked at. Check there are no leaky hoses underneath the car - if there are then definitely don’t drive it anywhere. If not then the ABS may be faulty or brake pads could be getting low. Needless to say, it is imperative that you get this looked at.
Now, this light indicates the power steering may be on the way out. You’re usually safe to carry on driving but the steering will get heavy and you’ll soon feel like you’re building up a sweat to do a 3 point turn. It could be a minor issue but steering is a pretty important part of safe driving…
Engine Warning Light
This is probably the trickiest dashboard light to encounter. The Engine Warning Light can be triggered for countless reasons - this is your car telling you ‘something’s definitely not right here’. More often than not it’s just a faulty sensor, but it can put your car into ‘limp mode’ and if the issue is more severe than a faulty sensor then this can prevent the car from starting completely.
Diesel Particulate Filter Warning Lights
This will only come on in diesel powered cars. If you drive your car locally, usually for short journeys, your engine isn’t exhaling properly. There are diesel particles clogging up the exhaust that need to be warmed up to be pushed out. Take your car on a 20-minute motorway drive at about 70mph (where possible) to clear its lungs. If the light persists then it might be time to get your particulate filter changed - which can be costly.
Coolant Warning Light
Not a difficult fix, but an expensive mistake if you forget. Coolant is the stuff that keeps your car from overheating and, in some cases, exploding. If you can operate a household kettle, you can top up your coolant. Lift the bonnet, locate the translucent ‘expansion tank’, fill with coolant to the indicated mark and you’re good to go. Check back a day later to make sure it’s not leaking away.
Oil Warning Light
As soon as you see this light pop up on your dashboard you need to act quickly. Your engine could be running low on lubricant which makes your car a ticking time-bomb. The engine will give up shortly after running out of oil. Get the bonnet up, check the dipstick and add oil when necessary. Do not neglect this warning light!
Tyre Pressure Warning Light
From the 1st of November 2014, every car sold in the European Union had to have ‘TPMS’ to let you know when one tyre is losing air. If this is triggered while on the roads then it’s important to pull over as soon as possible and assess the situation. Again, it could come down to a faulty sensor, but similarly, it's worth exploring just in case you've got a slow release puncture.
Battery Charge Warning Light
If this light comes on as you turn over your car, it means you should let the car run for a while so it can charge up the battery. If it comes on while your car is running, then it’s likely that your alternator is faulty as the battery isn’t being recharged. If it comes on while your car fails to turn over then it’s probably because you’ve got a flat battery.