Warning Lights in Your Car and What They Mean

Warning lights in your car detect potential problems that if left unaddressed can cause major problems.  The five major warning lights are:

  1. Oil Pressure Warning Light – Imagine the sound of two pieces of steel grinding together without lubricant.  That is the sound an engine makes when the oil is not pumping throughout the system.  This problem can be caused by low oil level or a faulty oil pump.  Always check your oil and if the warning light or gauge is telling you that the engine does not have enough pressure get to an expert immediately.  If left unattended you could permanently damage your engine. An engine can cost $5000.00 or more.
  2. Check Engine Warning Light – The check engine light (sometimes called on-board diagnostics light) is a system that will continually run diagnostics on the entire vehicle, checking for everything from a loose gas cap to engine or transmission problems.  This light indicates that there is a problem. To determine what the nature of the problem is you will need to electronically scan the cars computer.  These scanners can be anything from a simple code reader to a very expensive computer/scanner.  Many auto parts stores can scan for codes but to get a more accurate information you will need to visit your local automotive specialist.
  3. Tire Pressure Warning Light – Many newer vehicles have a tire pressure warning light.  If the pressure gets low the light will alert you to the problem.  The problem can be caused by anything from a leaking valve stem to a nail or object in the tire.
  4. Engine Temperature Warning Light – Keep a watchful eye on this light or gauge, especially in the summer months.  This light tells you that your engine is getting hot and you have a problem with the coolant system.  Again, many reasons for this light can exist. Some as simple as being low on anti-freeze or a bad thermostat, or a more in depth problem such as a bad radiator or a blown head gasket.  Regardless of how minor the the problem, do not drive your car hot or you could cause major damage such as a seized engine which could end up costing thousands of dollars.
  5. Brake Warning Light – Since braking systems are hydraulic in nature this light alerts to a low pressure or over heated brake fluid in the system which can cause your braking ability to fail.  If you experience this, pumping the brakes can sometimes help build up enough pressure to allow you to stop.

Warning lights on today’s cars can alert you to many potential problems.  Regardless of how minor the problem is not responding to the light can cause major damage to your car.  In many areas of the United States having a check engine light can keep you from getting your vehicle safety inspection which would keep you from legally driving your car

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