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Warning Lights - An Explanation

Posted on 1 Mar 

Warning Lights - An Explanation.
Your dashboard is filled with colourful lights that help alert you to your car’s overall health. But unless you know what these warning lights mean, you could be left scratching your head when one suddenly lights up. While it’s a good idea to let our technicians take a look, if you notice a new light shining on your dashboard, knowing what that light means can help set your mind at ease.

Engine warning light
The engine warning light, often referred to as the ‘check engine light’, turns on when you first start your car but should switch back off as soon as your engine turns over. However, if the light suddenly comes on while you’re driving, this means that there’s a problem with the engine management system. Pull over and turn off your car, waiting a couple of minutes before switching it back on. This should reset the engine management system. If it doesn’t, or if there are other apparent faults with the engine, it’s important you give our service desk a call so that we can arrange one of our specialist brand technicians to check your car.

Oil pressure warning light
The oil pressure warning light illuminates when the engine oil pressure is low, often but not always, as a result of low oil level. If you notice this light on your dashboard after you’ve started your car, you need to switch the engine off as soon as it is safe to do so. First check your oil level, topping up if necessary but never overfill. However, if the oil level is not low or having topped up the oil because it was very low the light remains on, it is important the engine is not run as serious damage could result. Give our service desk a call so that we can help arrange recovery of your car and a thorough check of the vehicle.

Battery charge warning light
This is another light that will illuminate when the ignition is switched on, but should turn off once the engine starts. If you notice that the light doesn’t come on at all when the ignition is switched on, or if the light suddenly illuminates while you’re driving, it means that there is a fault with your charging system and your battery is not being charged.

This could mean one of a number of things the most common being: you have a slack battery or starter terminal, you have a broken or loose alternator drive belt or you have a failure with your alternator. If the problem is with a broken drive belt, you must have it replaced before restarting your car. Failure to do so could make the engine overheat since the coolant system relies on the alternator drive belt to function properly.

Tyre Pressure Warning Light
Incorrect tyre pressures can cause a number of serious safety issues and as a result most of the vehicles we now sell are fitted with a system to detect incorrect pressure. Low tyre pressures will also increase fuel consumption, cause abnormal and premature tyre wear as well as lead to overheating and possible sudden and catastrophic tyre failure. When the light illuminates check the pressures as soon as possible. After setting the pressures correctly or if you have a new tyre fitted (if fitted by us we will of course do this for you) you will need to reset the system. Please refer to your vehicle manual for how this is done on your car. If the light illuminates shortly after a reset of the pressures, it is likely you have a puncture and a call to our service desk is needed to arrange a repair. It is also worth remembering that in very cold ambient temperatures tyre pressures will drop.

Brake system warning light
You’re probably familiar with this light, since it illuminates whenever you have the handbrake engaged. But if the light stays on even when your handbrake is off, it could mean you have a low brake fluid level caused by brake wear or a leak in the system. Firstly check that the brake fluid level is correct and top up if necessary. If the light remains on contact us for further advice. If you notice that your braking distance is longer than it used to be while the light is illuminated, you might have a failure with one of your two hydraulic brake circuits. In this case, you should turn off your car as soon as it’s safe to do so and call for help.

ABS warning light
The ABS warning light briefly illuminates when you first switch on your ignition to confirm that the system is running smoothly. In slippery or icy conditions when braking or under heavy emergency braking, the light may flash to advise you the system is operating. This is normal and the complex electronic safety systems fitted to your car are helping the driver to retain control and steer in difficult road conditions. However, if you notice the light constantly on when you’re in motion, there is a malfunction. In this case give our service desk a call so that we can arrange one of our Technicians to check your car.

Brake system and ABS warning lights
If both the brake system and ABS warning lights illuminate at the same time while driving, reduce your speed gradually and pull over when it’s safe to do so. Call for help and do not try to drive again until your car has been examined by a professional.

Ad Blue warning light
This is fitted to some diesel engines and warns that you Ad Blue tank requires topping up to maintain the anti-pollution systems continue to operate correctly. It will probably only need topping up once or twice between services and details on how to do this is in your handbook or would have been explained to you at the time of handover by our sales staff. It is always worth keeping a top up bottle for such eventualities. 

Knowing what the lights on your dashboard mean can help you become a more confident driver. However, if you’re ever in doubt don’t hesitate to call Steve or Mark on our service desk and they will be pleased to give further advice and help. When it comes to your personal safety on the road, it’s better to be safe than sorry.