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Car Dashboard Light Meanings: Explained

Your car can be a confusing place. There are so many different dashboard lights, and not all of them seem to make sense. For example, there’s the oil light, is it on because you’re out of oil or for some other reason unknown to you? And why does the ABS light turn on when you brake hard but stays off otherwise? It’s always difficult to decipher what these dashboard lights mean without referring to your owner’s manual. But if you know what each one means and how they usually behave, then driving becomes much less stressful. In this article, we’ll explore the different meanings of these dashboard lights and what they usually mean.

1. Check Engine Light

The check engine light is arguably the most annoying dashboard light because it means that there’s something wrong with your car, but you don’t necessarily know what it is yet. If there’s a problem with your car then this indicator will turn on and stay on until you get the problem fixed, and if you find yourself in that situation this Audi dealer recommends getting your car checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible. At best, it might be something really minor like an improperly attached gas cap that’s leaking fumes. At worst, there could be more serious problems with your engine or emissions system. This light can turn on for literally hundreds of reasons, but if you don’t know what the problem is then your best bet is to take your car to a mechanic and let them figure out what’s wrong.

2. Seat Belt Alert

Ever wondered why your seat belt light is on? Well, it’s because your seat belt isn’t buckled or it’s unbuckled while the car is in motion. This doesn’t just mean that you’re not safe to drive, if you ignore this light and keep driving anyway, then you’ll get a ticket from a cop! In fact, this light is so important that it’s illegal to drive with it on in some places. So if you’re driving without a seatbelt or the belt isn’t fastened correctly, then your car will turn this light on and remind you to put your seatbelt back on.

3. Oil Pressure Warning Light And ABS Warning Light

This one is pretty obvious. If your car’s oil pressure warning light is on, it means that there isn’t enough lubricant in the engine and it needs more oil soon. Usually, this light turns on when you start your car up because it takes time for the pressure to build up, but if the light stays on after startup then that’s a bad sign and you need to take your car to a mechanic immediately.

This one is pretty similar, but there isn’t enough pressure in the brakes for them to work correctly. If the ABS warning light is on, it means that there’s either not enough hydraulic fluid or air in the braking system. Either way, this is a serious problem and you need to get it looked at.

4. Engine Temperature Light

This means that your car’s engine temperature is too high. The engine light usually turns on when the outside temperature goes above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) or if there is something wrong internally with the engine. If this light is staying on, then you should turn off your engine and get it looked at. If the car has heated seats or other means of keeping your passengers warm, you should keep driving while the car cools down because this light turns off automatically after a while.

5. Low Fuel Light And Door Ajar Light

This one’s pretty self-explanatory, it means that your fuel tank is almost empty and you need to fill up soon. The light usually turns on when the fuel level goes below 3/4th of a tank, but sometimes it comes on as early as 1/4th because manufacturers can set their sensors to be more sensitive if they want.

If this light is on then it means that at least one of the car doors (the front or rear door on the left or right respectively) isn’t closed properly. This can be due to any number of reasons, but you should pull over and fix the problem as soon as possible because this light is designed to warn you if a door has come open while you’re driving.


There are a lot of dashboard light meanings, but the most important thing you should know is that if your car’s engine temperature gets too high or there isn’t enough fuel for it to run on, then the check engine light will turn on. If this happens and you don’t know what caused it, then take your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible because this could be an expensive problem!  In order to avoid these issues altogether, make sure that you’re checking all of the lights before driving so that they stay off and save yourself from future tickets.