Dashboard Danger! Is your Car at Risk?
by Ed Scott
Once you’ve got used to your car’s little intricacies it’s easy to ignore them, a recent study revealed the average motorist will wait 3 months until getting a problem checked out by their garage. For me I’ve had an intermittent warning light for more like 12 months, but then the car’s still running so I’ve learnt to ignore it.
This is obviously not a very good idea, and I’m not condoning it, so to make myself feel a bit less guilty here’s the top 5 most common dashboard warning lights, what they mean, and why you should never ignore them!
You could see this light appear if you’re running low on oil, there’s a leak, or the oil temperature is getting too high. If you see this warning you need to check your oil levels straight away (using the dipstick under your bonnet). Top up if you’re running low or get a professional to look at your vehicle if you’re not.
You should always see this light when you turn your key in the ignition but it will then disappear again once your engine starts. However, if it doesn’t light up or doesn’t go away you could have a problem. If you see the light appear while you’re driving it means the battery isn’t charging properly, which usually means a broken battery, alternator or issue with the drive belt. Best to get your vehicle checked out then!
There are any number of reasons you could see an engine warning light, so the best thing to do if it lights up is take it in to your local garage, where diagnostic tests can be run to identify any problems with your vehicle. If you notice the light flashing whilst you’re driving that’s more serious. You should slow down until it stays on (or more preferably goes out).
You’ll probably be familiar with this one already as it lights up when the hand brake is on. If the light’s on but the hand brake isn’t, that could mean you’ve got low brake fluid levels, worn brake pads or an issue with your ABS. All good enough reasons to take your car to a garage for an inspection.
A simple but crucial element to your engine is the coolant. If you notice this warning, and the engine temperature gauge is higher than usual, you could risk damaging your vehicle irreparably. Check your coolant tank immediately if you see this warning light and top up if levels are low. If the problem persists it’s best to get your car checked over by a mechanic to avoid any permanent harm to your motor.
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