One of the most convenient things about owning a modern car is the fact that they have so much sensing equipment and a wide range of diagnostic options. Unlike older vehicles, a late-model car will have sensors that are always running and providing updates on the condition of each component. This makes it easy to know when an issue has come up that needs your attention. Having this sensing equipment allows you to bring your vehicle into the shop as soon as something goes wrong so it doesn’t get worse.
Most of the time, this diagnostic equipment will alert you that something is wrong with your car in the form of dashboard lights. These lights all have their own designs and they will be slightly different in every vehicle. However, knowing what they mean and what the potential problem could be is a great way to keep your car running smoothly. By understanding your car’s warning lights, you can get the timely auto repair you need before the problem gets worse.
The check engine light is one of the most common warning lights that drivers get on their dashboard. This light usually looks like a small outline of an engine in yellow or orange. It can be difficult to diagnose what the issue is from the light alone since it can turn on for a wide variety of reasons. However, it almost always means that something has changed in your engine and it needs to be looked at as soon as possible.
The check engine light can turn on for reasons ranging from a loose gas cap all the way up to catastrophic engine failure. Most of the time, though, as long as the light is solid and not blinking, it will be safe to drive your vehicle to the auto repair shop. If the light is blinking, this means that something much more serious has happened and it will be best to have it towed. Either way, getting your engine looked at as soon as possible will help you avoid expensive auto repair should the problem get worse.
Most vehicles have a system known as the tire pressure monitoring system on all four wheels. This system keeps track of the amount of air in your tires and will alert you with a warning light on the dashboard when it is too low. This light generally looks like a semicircle with a ridged bottom and an exclamation point in the middle. If this light turns on, it is a good indication that one or more of your tires have gotten too low and needs to be inflated.
When you notice that the tire pressure light in your vehicle has turned on, it is a good idea to get the tires inflated to the proper pressure as soon as possible. Driving with too little tire pressure can cause serious issues with traction and can even damage your tires. Low pressure can also lead to blowouts at higher speeds, which is a significant hazard. If you are noticing that your tire pressure light is turning on all the time, this is a sign that you have a leak and you may need to have one of your tires replaced or patched at an auto repair shop.
Many modern vehicles include some kind of traction control system that helps keep your car on the road, especially in wet or icy conditions. These systems work using wheel speed sensors that direct the right amount of power to each wheel as conditions change. If something goes wrong with this system in your vehicle, a light that looks like a car with squiggly lines in front of it will light up. This means that your traction control system has turned off and that something needs your immediate attention.
Most of the time, driving without the traction control is relatively safe, at least for the amount of time it would take to get to the auto repair shop. However, there are times when traction control is essential, such as on wet roads, and driving without it could be dangerous. Most of the time, this warning light means that one of the wheel speed sensors has stopped working, making it difficult to accurately distribute power to the wheels. Getting the system looked at by an auto repair professional as soon as you can will help keep you safe when road conditions are less than ideal.
Keeping your engine lubricated is one of the most important things you can do for your car. Good oil pressure will help the moving parts in your engine last longer and prevent expensive auto repair procedures. If you don’t have the right oil pressure in your engine, the oil pressure light will turn on. This light looks like an old-style oil can with a drip coming out of the spout and will usually be red or orange.
Generally, the oil pressure light is an indicator that your oil is running low and it needs to be topped off. However, it can also mean that you have a serious leak somewhere and you need to head to an auto repair shop as soon as you can. Most vehicles won’t burn too much oil between changes, so if your car is constantly running low on oil, this means you could have a faulty oil pump or damaged piston rings. Have an auto repair shop look at the root cause of the light so you can be sure your engine is getting the lubrication it needs.
The regulation of your engine’s temperature is crucial, especially in hot weather. If your engine gets too hot, it could cause warping, seizing, and other serious auto repair problems that will be incredibly expensive to fix. The coolant temperature light in your dashboard will usually look like a thermometer submerged in wavy water lines and is either blue or orange. When this light turns on, it is an indication that the temperature of your engine is not where it needs to be.
One of the most common reasons for this light to turn on is an overheating engine. You may notice this most when sitting in traffic in hot weather. Since the car isn’t moving, the cooling system has to work much harder, which can cause everything to overheat. In some cases, this light means that your radiator is having issues or that you have a coolant leak somewhere. Either way, if the coolant temperature light is lighting up on a regular basis, it is a good idea to take your vehicle to an auto repair shop right away to avoid potentially serious engine problems.
While most car warning lights are simply early indications that a problem is developing, they can sometimes mean something more urgent than that. Knowing what the lights mean will help you get auto repair quickly so you don’t end up having to spend more money at the shop than you should have. The key to keeping your vehicle running smoothly is to get auto repair as soon as a problem arises so it can serve you well for many years.
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