Car System Warning Lights You Should Never Take For Granted

Modern cars have sophisticated sensors and warning systems that notifies you when something is amiss. Even with meticulous inspections and maintenance, it’s inadvertent that you will be able to cover all of them. That is why as part of car maintenance, there are warning light indicators that may flash on your instrument panel you should never brush off because if left unattended will completely ground your car and cost you huge amount of money to fix. These are indicator lights you should look out for.


Check Engine Light

The check engine light is part of a car’s so-called onboard diagnostics system. An onboard computer monitors the vehicle performance by regulating variables like engine speed, fuel mixture, ignition timing which in turn tells the automatic transmission when to shift. So when the computer finds a problem in the electronic-control system which has to do with any of these variables that it can’t correct, it turns on a yellow warning indicator labeled “check engine,” “service engine soon,” or “check powertrain.” Or the light may be nothing more than a picture of an engine, perhaps with the word “check.” If you notice this light come on, you must immediately look into the cause because it can come from the engine or the transmission. If unattended to with time can cause complete engine or transmission failure.


Electric Fault Warning Light

This warning light is different in every car. You’ll see it come on and go off when you start your engine as part of the car’s self-test, but if this light comes on and stays on, it means the electrical charging system is not working properly. Every car has an alternator – the charger – and a 12v battery used to supply power to the electrical system. If the alternator becomes faulty or the drive belt to it snaps, then it will not be able to do its job. The longer you drive, the more your car will use up the remaining juice in the battery and eventually the engine will stall. This almost always requires a new or refurbished alternator.


ABS Warning Light

The ABS system uses sensors at each wheel to monitor their rotational speed. A computer monitors the signals from all four wheels and the position of the brake pedal to make sure that the vehicle is stable and under control. If the computer notices any abnormal signals, or the lack of a signal from any of the sensors, it will turn the ABS light on, to alert the driver of an issue. In addition to monitoring the wheel speed sensors, the computer can turn the ABS light on for other reasons like low brake fluid levels or a blown fuse.


Brake Warning Light

Safe operation of your car relies heavily on your brakes working properly every time you need them. When you experience a Brake Warning Light, you should immediately question the dependability of the system that will bring you to a stop when you need to. A brake warning indicator can illuminate for multiple reasons including:

  • A burnt out brake light
  • Anti-lock brake (ABS) sensor malfunction
  • Brake pads low on material
  • Low battery voltage
  • Low brake fluid in the reservoir
  • Parking brake stuck on

Virtually all modern vehicles are manufactured with ABS brakes. ABS brakes function to prevent the brakes from locking up when they are pressed, predominantly in situations where the road conditions are slippery such as in the rain. Vehicles with ABS brakes have two warning lights — one for ABS system malfunctions and one for mechanical problems.

If one of the brake system warning lights come on, it can be a relatively minor problem or a major safety issue. Regardless of which brake light is illuminated, always check your car over before continuing to use your car.


Coolant Warning Light

If the warning light is illuminated even after you start your vehicle, it indicates that the car’s computer has detected an issue within the system. The most common reasons for the warning light to displayed are the temperature or fluid level of the coolant is low, this causes overheating. If you are driving when this warning light goes on, pull over safely as soon as possible and shut off the engine to let everything cool down. Let the engine cool down for at least 30 minutes before attempting to remove the radiator cap and remember to use a thick rag to protect your hand when you do so. Never attempt to remove the radiator cap off of a hot engine. The radiator cap is designed to pressurize the system so that the water doesn’t boil as easily. Removing the cap from a hot engine will cause the coolant to start boiling and the steam will most likely burn you. Once the engine has cooled, check the overall fluid level of the coolant. If the level is low, you can add just water temporarily so that you can drive somewhere to get the car checked out.


Oil Warning Light

The Oil Light may come on for a few different reasons, which include low oil pressure or a low oil level. If your Oil Light comes on while you are driving down the road, the first thing you should do is safely pull over and turn off the vehicle. The reason to stop the vehicle is because if you have run out of oil, your engine can stop and may not run any further. If the vehicle stops while you are driving, it could potentially cause an accident. Thus, driving with the Oil Light on can be very dangerous.


Paying attention to these warning light can prevent costly repairs. Onboard computers in modern cars stores trouble codes in its memory that identifies the sources of the problems, such as malfunctioning sensors. The code can be read with an electronic scan tool or a diagnostic computer—standard equipment in auto repair shops. You can contact us to help you read the possible causes of your car issues. Knowing the source of the problems will help you tackle it head on and get your car back in shape.

About Nonso Okafor

I've worked as a technical support representative in major auto centers in Nigeria for more than twenty years. I have dealt with a variety of problems in my capacity as a customer service representative and auto diagnostics expert. I'm committed to assisting people in properly maintaining their automobiles and in appreciating this magnificent innovation known as an automobile.

Check Also

Engine Tapping Sounds: Causes And Solutions

For owners of cars, engine tapping noises can be upsetting and worrying. These noises can …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.