What Do My Dashboard Warning Lights Mean?

What Do My Dashboard Warning Lights Mean?

Decoding the Lights on Your Dashboard

You’re driving your car when suddenly you notice a mysterious light on your dashboard. You are tempted to ignore it and hope for the best, but then think better of that course of action. Though you’re not entirely sure what the flashing symbols mean, you do realize that these dashboard lights are crucial for the health and safety of your vehicle.

You no longer need to wonder; the experts at Tracy’s Tire Pros in Wichita decode the most common dashboard lights to help you understand what they mean.

Check Engine Light

The infamous “Check Engine” light is one of the most common dashboard lights you’ll encounter. When this light comes on, it typically indicates a problem with your car’s engine or emissions system. The issue could be minor, such as a loose gas cap, or more severe, like a malfunctioning sensor. It’s essential to have this light diagnosed promptly at any one of Tracy’s Tire Pros locations to prevent further damage to your engine and reduce emissions.

Oil Pressure Warning Light

The oil pressure warning light resembles an old-fashioned oil can and is a clear indication that your engine is not getting sufficient oil pressure. This could be due to low oil levels, a malfunctioning oil pump, or a leak. Ignoring this light could lead to serious engine damage, so it’s vital to address it promptly.

Battery Light

When you see a battery-shaped light on your dashboard, it means that your car’s charging system isn’t working correctly. This light doesn’t indicate a problem limited to a dying battery only; it lights up when there are issues associated to a failing alternator, or a loose belt. If the battery light comes on, it’s best to have your electrical system inspected to prevent your car from stalling.

Brake Warning Light

The brake warning light looks like an exclamation mark inside a circle, (sometimes accompanied by the word “BRAKE”). This light can indicate various brake-related issues, such as low brake fluid, worn brake pads, or a brake system malfunction. Ignoring this warning could compromise your safety, so it’s crucial to have your brakes checked at Tracy’s Tire Pros in Wichita immediately.

ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) Light

The ABS light indicates a problem with your car’s anti-lock braking system, which helps prevent wheel lock-up during sudden stops. When this light is on, it may mean that the ABS is not functioning correctly. A failure with the ABS could potentially reduce your ability to stop safely in emergencies.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Light

The TPMS light looks like an exclamation mark inside a horseshoe or a tire symbol. This light warns you when your tire pressure is too low. Maintaining proper tire pressure is essential for both safety and fuel efficiency. If this light comes on, it’s time to check and adjust your tire pressure.

Airbag Warning Light

The airbag warning light indicates a problem with your car’s supplemental restraint system, including airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners. This light looks like a person with a beachball on their lap. Ignoring this light could result in airbags not deploying in a collision, compromising your safety. Professional diagnosis is a must and repair may be necessary.

Coolant Temperature Warning Light

When the coolant temperature light comes on, it suggests that your engine is running too hot. Overheating can lead to severe engine damage, so you should pull over, turn off the engine, and let it cool down. The issue could be a leak, a faulty thermostat, or a malfunctioning radiator.


Understanding the meaning of your car’s dashboard lights is key for maintaining your vehicle’s health and safety. When a dashboard light comes on, it’s your car’s way of communicating a potential problem that needs your attention. Ignoring these warning lights can lead to more significant issues and costly repairs down the road. If you’re uncertain about the cause of a dashboard warning light, seek the advice of the ASE certified mechanics at Tracy’s Tire Pros. Tracy’s Tire Pros has three locations to make your car maintenance convenient: 525 E. 1st Street North, 3804 W. Maple St, or 11770 W. 21st Street N.

For more details on dashboard lights, check out U.S. New and World Reports rundown on what each mean.

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