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Most cars operate a red, amber, green system when it comes to dashboard lights. It’s a simple approach that motorists easily understand – and you ignore these warning symbols at your peril.

Let’s take a look at the common warning signals you may encounter.

 dashboard warning lights

Engine warning lights

If a red engine symbol appears, you should pull over as soon as you can and call for motoring assistance.

A common complaint is when the engine temperature is too high. If your coolant is low, your engine may be about to overheat. You should stop your vehicle and check the coolant level. If it’s suddenly low, then you potentially have a leak somewhere in the system, or a head gasket failure could be using up the coolant. It’s unsafe to keep driving.

If a red engine oil warning light shows, it means your oil pressure is either too high or too low. Either way, you need to pull over immediately and call for motoring assistance. It’s dangerous to keep driving.

Ignoring red engine warning lights will cause serious damage to your car.

Braking system lights

The most common brake warning light is when the handbrake hasn’t been released fully. This is easily remedied. However, if it happens frequently, there could be an underlying problem such as lack of brake fluid or a worn brake.

If the brake system symbol shows, it could indicate that the brake pads are worn and need replacing. You should arrange with your garage to have the work done as soon as possible and avoid driving any long distances until the pads have been replaced.

Anti-lock brake system (ABS) warning light

The ABS symbol indicates something is wrong with the ABS and/or ESP system. This safety feature is important if you make a sudden stop or are driving on icy roads.

Your brakes may still work when this light is displayed, but you should book your car into the garage to get the problem fixed as soon as possible.

Faulty battery warning lights

The battery symbol usually flashes when you start your car. If it stays on, you have a problem, which will be obvious if the engine won’t start because the battery is dead.

If the battery warning light stays on when you’re moving, it indicates that the battery is not charging as it should when the engine is turning. This could be down to a problem with the alternator, battery, or you may have a faulty electrical connection.

Seatbelt and airbag warning symbols

The seatbelt symbol is a handy warning light that will alert you to the fact that one or more of the occupants of your vehicle has not fastened their seatbelt properly. The warning light will disappear once the seatbelt has been secured.

If the airbag symbol shows, it means one of your airbags possibly won’t inflate if you’re involved in a collision. Alternatively, it could mean an airbag could inflate unnecessarily, which can present a dangerous situation.

You should get your airbags checked at your local garage at your earliest convenience.

If you’re concerned about any aspect of your vehicle, contact us now

Foster & Heanes offers car servicing, maintenance and repair for all makes and models of vehicles including classic and vintage cars. We can arrange free collection and delivery if you live near our Fleet or Dogmersfield service centres.



Chatter Alley 
RG27 8SS

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Upper Street
GU51 3PE


St James Road
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St James Road
GU51 3QH