Your vehicle’s dashboard provides you with important details about the status of your vehicle and notifies you to potential mechanical problems. Automotive technicians encourage motorists to check their owner’s manual for a detailed explanation of all of the warning lights in their vehicle, but here are some of the more common indicators that drivers should pay immediate attention to should the light illuminate:
Oil Pressure Light: The oil pressure light indicates loss of oil pressure and when this light illuminates there is potential for serious mechanical damage. Should this light come on, immediately check oil level and pressure; pull over safely, shut off the engine and call for assistance.
Engine Temperature Light: The engine temperature light comes on when the engine temperature has exceeded a safe temperature. The symbol is typically a thermometer or “TEMP.” If the temperature is not decreased, major engine damage can occur.
Charging System Light: The charging system light lights up when the electrical system is no longer being supplied power by the alternator. If this light illuminates, shut down all unnecessary electrical equipment – radio, heater, AC -- and then drive to an automotive maintenance provider.
Check Engine Light: This symbol (“CHECK ENGINE SOON”) lights up when there is a problem affecting the vehicle’s exhaust emissions. An automotive maintenance provider should check the problem in the near future, but should the light flash repeatedly, if may mean the catalytic converter is overheating. A diagnosis will be needed immediately and typically will need to be conducted with a professional scan tool by the vehicle technician. However, if this light comes on, the first thing to do is to check to make sure your gas cap is on properly, as this can also trigger a “Check Engine Light.”
Tire Pressure Light: We must reiterate the importance of checking tire pressure and tire tread depth. Should the symbol illuminate in a car that is so equipped, typically a tire cross section with an exclamation point, find a safe location to pull over and check each tire’s pressure. Look for a tire that may be low on air, listen for leaks and feel for objects (a nail perhaps) in the tread. Drive at a reduced speed to the nearest gas station and have the tire inspected and air pressure adjusted.
ABS Warning Light: The ABS warning light indicates there may be a problem with the anti-lock brakes. Anti-lock brakes are designed to prevent the brakes from locking up on slick or wet surfaces and helps to reducing the chance of skidding. Anti-lock brakes also help control wheel lock-up during heavy braking, which is most likely experienced while driving in traffic in the congested DC metro area. Sometimes turning off the car and starting it again will fix the issue, but if it persists, have it repaired as soon as possible. And in the meantime, use caution driving in slippery conditions.
Battery Light: The expected life is typically 60 or 84 months, so if the battery is near the end of its expected service life, replace it. Battery maintenance will help ensure you won’t be in a situation where your car will not start. The light will come on to warn of low or even high battery charge. It is recommended to check battery terminals and battery condition for corrosion regularly. Consider testing the battery every time a vehicle is brought in for service, approximately every 7,500 miles.
Drivers are encouraged to follow their vehicle’s owner manual for recommended service visits; doing so will keep vehicle maintenance up-to-date. Never ignore a warning light since some of them indicate serious problems that could cause it to be it unsafe to drive.
About Us --Virginia Tire & Auto:
For more than 35 years, family-owned and operated Virginia Tire & Auto has been the leading provider of full-service automotive maintenance, repair and tire needs for customers in Northern Virginia. Named “Top Shop in North America” by Tire Review magazine, Virginia Tire & Auto’s 11 locations are conveniently located in Ashburn, Centreville, Chantilly, Fairfax (Main Street Shell), Falls Church, Gainesville, South Riding, Springfield, Sterling and Vienna (James Madison Shell). The business offers exceptional customer experience, dedicated quality service and is a superior place for a career. For more information about Virginia Tire & Auto, please visit us at www.vatire.com or www.facebook.com/VATIREANDAUTO.