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What Do The Warning Lights On Your Car Mean?

warning lights on car dashboard

We all know that deep, gut-wrenching feeling in the pit of our stomachs when suddenly you see warning light in your car.

It can be tempting to ignore it. To put it out of your mind and pretend it isn’t there, especially when you don’t know what it means.

This does work. Right up until it very definitely doesn’t.

Read on for a simple and clean breakdown of what the warning lights on your car mean and what you should do about them.

Red vs Amber

Before going into detail on what each individual light means, it is important to note its colour. In simple terms:

  • Red is urgent, requiring immediate attention. Ignoring this light could be fatal to you, your passengers, and your vehicle.
  • Amber is not immediately urgent, but still requires your attention. You should schedule an appointment with your garage at your earliest convenance. In the meantime though, you are probably still alright to drive your vehicle around in the time between the light appearing and the repair.

Red Warning Lights


Something wrong with one of your airbags. This could mean that the airbag is likely to go off without provocation or that it won’t open at all when it is supposed to. If it is red, then that means the malfunction is occurring with the driver’s airbag specifically. Fix this as soon as humanly possible, before it inflates while you’re driving, causing an accident.

Brake system light

This warning light simply means that something has gone wrong with your breaks, or is about to. Immediately check that your hand and pedal brakes are still functional. If they work, then immediately take your care in for repair. If not, then have it towed or otherwise transported. Don’t risk it.

Engine Cooler

Something has gone wrong with the engine’s ability to keep itself from overheating. Fixing this issue immediately to save yourself massive repair costs or from having to write off the car entirely. Failing to do so could see you in a car that is on fire.

Engine Oil Pressure

This means that your oils levels are very low and in need of a top up, or that there is some kind of problem with the mechanism itself. Failure to heed this warning can cause serious and permanent damage to your vehicle. Check your engine’s oil level and either top it up yourself or have it professionally serviced.

Power Steering

There is an issue with your hydraulic or electrical steering assistance. As most people cannot manually steer a tons heavy peace of metal by hand, it is vital that this issue be solved while you are still in control of your vehicle. Have a professional take your vehicle through a diagnostic.

Vehicle Charging System

If this symbol is red then that means that your car’s battery is dying being drained while it is stationary or off. Unless you want to push start your car every morning, then get your car serviced to repair or replace its battery systems.

Steering Lock

Your steering lock system should only function when your car is parked and switched off. It generally serves the same function as the handbrake, to ensure that your car remains stationary. If you see this symbol while the care is switched on however, this means that there is a risk that this system could lock your ability to steer while driving. Send your car in for a diagnosis before this causes an accident.

Ignition Switch

This light indicates that there is something wrong with your ignition, which you need to start your car. If you enjoy actually being able to drive your vehicle and would like to retain that ability, then make sure to have it serviced accordingly.

Amber Warning Lights

Adaptive Suspension Dampers

Some vehicles have special dampers installed within their suspension system. If you have these, and this warning sign appears, then that means that there is something wrong with them and they must be fixed to continue functioning properly.

Air Suspension

As with adaptive suspension dampers, this is an optional feature in higher end cars. If you see this warning light then it is likely that you have either done something inadvisable with its settings or there is a problem with the system that governs it. If restoring your air suspension to its default settings does not make this light go away then you will need to have it serviced properly for it to continue functioning properly.


If this warning light comes up and the colour is amber, then that means that there is a problem with one of the passenger airbags. While this issue is not as immediately catastrophic as it would be for the driver’s airbag, it is still dangerous. It could still be fatal should an airbag not open for a passenger during a crash and could still cause an accident if one of the passenger airbags goes off unprompted.

Antilock Brakes

This symbol means that your Antilock-brakes, which allow a driver to steer while applying maximum breaks in cases of emergency, are not functioning properly. Have them repaired as soon as possible to give yourself the best possible odds in cases of emergency.

warning lights on car dashboard


These symbols appear when a four-wheel drive capable vehicle switches between two and four. It should not be a cause for concern. If the light begins to act strangely or appear when it should not, then make sure to bring it up with your mechanic.

Brake Pad Monitoring

This light is reminding you to replace worn out brake pads/discs. Be sure to do so long before your car transitions to a red light.

Broken Bulb

This light is reminding you to replace worn out brake pads/discs. Be sure to do so long before your car transitions to a red light.

Tyre Pressure Monitor

Most modern cars come with a system that keeps a watchful eye over the air pressure in the tyres. If it detects that one has fallen noticeably compared with the others, it will warn the driver. If your’e on the road, head for a petrol station and check the pressures and adjust accordingly. If your’e unsure on how to reset the tyre pressure monitor, the vehicle handbook will offer a step-by-step guide

For More Information About Vehicle Warning Lights, Servicing, And Repair, Contact Us Today

If you have found yourself with a red or amber warning light and are wondering what to do next, contact us for information, quotations, and servicing.


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