Your dashboard has a variety of displays and warning lights that serve as helpful indicators of the sometimes complicated and delicate systems of your vehicle. A good portion of these lights may be intuitive or just common knowledge, but others can leave car owners baffled and asking, “What’s THAT supposed to mean?” If this is you, then look no further than our handy Dashboard visual dictionary, roughly organized from most to least common or complicated.
Metro Motor’s Car Dashboard Light Visual Index
Low Fuel Indicator
Looks Like: A gas pump
It Means: You're low on gas, but usually have around 25 miles worth left depending on your gas mileage.
You Should: Make a plan to stop by a gas station. However, if you recently fueled up, there could be a puncture in your gas line, which should be taken care of as soon as possible.
Looks Like: A top down view of a car with one or more doors open
It Means: One of your doors may not fully be closed, and be at risk for opening while in motion.
You Should: If you have a newer car, it may tell you exactly which door isn’t latched. If not, then take a lap, giving each door a good slam until the light goes out.
Fog Lamp Indicator
Looks Like: A shining headlight (sometimes combined with an arrow)
It Means: Your fog lights are on
You Should: If you’re in low-visibility conditions, then nothing needs to be done.
Washer Fluid Indicator
Looks Like: Square with simple water spout running through it.
It Means: You’re low on wiper fluid.
You Should: Refill your fluid reservoir, as this wiper fluid helps keep your windshield clean of debris that could reduce your field of view.
Oil Pressure Light
Looks Like: An old fashioned oil can.
It Means: There is low oil or improper oil circulation.
You Should: See your local mechanic to either refill your oil or check that nothing is blocking your system.
Tire Pressure Light aka TPMS Signal
Looks Like: A cup or bowl with prongs on the bottom with an exclamation mark in the middle
It Means: Your tire pressure is too low or too high.
You Should: Check there is no damage to your tires that could allow air out and no signs of over-inflation before taking your vehicle to the nearest mechanic shop to correct your tire pressure and make sure it is within range for your vehicle’s make and model.
Check Engine Light
Looks Like: A line drawing of an engine block
It Means: Something could be wrong with your engine. However, it sometimes can be an issue with your gas cap.
You Should: Verify that your gas cap is seal tight, preventing any issue with fuel consumption. If the light does not go off with your adjustments, it may just be time for a tune up. Schedule an appointment with Metro Motor.
Looks Like: A person in a car seat with a deployed airbag at their front.
It Means: The airbag is disabled.
You Should: If you did not disable the airbag yourself, check there isn’t an issue with the sensor.
Engine Temperature Warning
Looks Like: A thermometer or key in wavy, water lines.
It Means: Your engine is operating at a dangerous temperature.
You Should: Check there isn’t an issue with your coolant/antifreeze. In hot conditions, it may be that you need to give your engine time to cool off before
Looks Like: A car battery
It Means: Battery caps or alternator belt are common issues, but this light means there’s overall a problem with the charging system
You Should: Pop your car’s hood and check the battery and attached wires are not loose. If you can not find the source of the issue, make an appointment with your Metro Motor Technician as soon as possible.
Automatic Braking System aka ABS
Looks Like: Letters ABS within a circle and two bookend lines
It Means: Your automatic braking system is engaged, trying to keep your wheels from locking in slippery conditions.
You Should: Drive cautiously and apply gentle pressure to your brakes. Your ABS will engage as a safety feature, so consider it a warning that you make be driving recklessly in the given conditions.
Traction Control Light
Looks Like: A car with swerving lines extending from tires
It Means: Your Car is working to regain traction via your brake system
You Should: Drive carefully, as you’re most likely driving in slippery conditions.
Lamp Out Light
Looks Like: A simple sun.
It Means: One of your exterior lights needs to be replaced.
You Should: Either replace the light yourself or have a professional technician do it, as this refers to your exterior lights, which is a crucial safety feature.
Auto Shift Lock
Looks Like: A man’s dress shoe in a circle with bookend marks.
It Means: You’re trying to start or shift gears without engaging the brake.
You Should: Remove your foot and re-apply pressure to the break.
There are few that are dire situations out of all the warning lights that could appear on your car’s dashboard. However, if you’re unfamiliar with them, any warning light could become stressful. If you still need help deciphering your dash, send your question to our certified technicians and we’ll be happy to help.
Vehicle care information made available by Metro Motor is presented as helpful advice for general maintenance and should not be construed as instructions for at-home vehicle service. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual and a licensed, professional mechanic for diagnostics and repair.