A strange looking symbol just popped up on your dashboard? The only problem is, you have zero clue what it could mean. The simple fact is there are dozens of symbols and a hundred more causes for all of them. So what do you do when you see one?

We always recommend referring to your manual when you have questions. But if you just need a quick summary of some of the most common warnings you’ll see, you’ve come to the right place. Allow us to break it down for you…


#1 Oil Warning Light

This is the oil warning light. It comes on when your oil is too hot or there is a decrease in oil pressure. Driving with little or hot oil is very dangerous and can lead to a complete meltdown of your engine. Morale of the story? This is a light you take seriously. Make an appointment right away. Hopefully, all you need is an oil change, but it’s always best to play it safe.

#2 Tire Pressure Monitor Warning Light

This is the tire pressure monitoring light. It comes on when your tire pressure is low in your tires. This is an easy fix and not a symbol that should cause immediate panic. Just pull into your nearest gas station and fill up your tires to the correct PSI.

Don’t know what that is? Your owner’s manual will have the right number listed. And always try to avoid driving on low tires. Eventually it will wear them down unevenly and cost you more money at the pumps.

#3 Check Engine Light

This is the check engine light. It comes on when the computer inside your engine detects something is malfunctioning. This can be caused by dozens of things, some more serious than others. It might be a loose gas tank, which is solved easily. Or, it could be an airflow sensor, blown gasket head or even worst, a broken catalytic converter.

Some of these causes you can trouble shoot yourself. Others, might require the eye of a professional. We recommend making an appointment as soon as you can to get to the bottom of it. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away and in fact, could make it much worst.


#4 Brake Warning Light

This is the brake warning light. It comes on when your parking brake is left on, your brake fluid is low or you’re short on hydraulic fluid. No panic necessary, but again, it’s a problem that should be resolved quickly.

#5 ABS Light

This is the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) light. It comes on when there is a breakdown in the anti-lock brake system. This can be caused by a number of issues including a loss of voltage, a low amount of fluid in the ABS reservoir or a defective wheel speed sensor. This is nothing to panic about. A quick trip into the dealership can have this fixed right away.