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What different lights mean on your dash

Can I drive my car with an engine light on?

If your car has an engine light on you should try and avoid using it lots and avoid long distance driving before you get it checked out by a professional. If the engine light is flashing or is red you should pull over as soon as possible and call for roadside assistance to avoid causing damage to your car or from the car shutting off completely.

What is the most common reason for a check engine light?

One of the most common faults which can lead to a check engine light is a faulty oxygen sensor. Oxygen sensors can also highlight lots of other faults such as air leaks in the intake system or a faulty catalytic converter.

What do engine lights mean?

When it comes to your dashboard lights it’s important to understand what each one means and what the different colours mean. To start with if your dashboard light is green or blue this is a good sign as this generally means the system is letting you know that everything is working as it should be and there's no faults. 

An orange or yellow warning light generally means your car needs to be serviced soon. If an orange/ yellow light comes on it is generally best to try and take your vehicle to a garage for a diagnostics check to make sure there's no issues and help to prevent any further issues.

If you have a red light on your dashboard this means action needs to be taken immediately and you should pull over and try and see what the problem is. Some red lights can be safety warnings like someone not wearing their seatbelt or in general they are mechanical warnings. If you carry on driving with a red light this can result in your vehicle to stop working or cause damage with continued driving.

Some of the most common warning lights you’ll see are: 

Oil pressure warning light 

This symbol indicates that there is a problem with your oil pressure system, this can either be your running low on oil or your oil pump isn’t functioning as it should and not enough oil is circulating around your engine. 

In the event of this light coming on you should pull over and check your oil level and look to see if there are any oil leaks. Poor engine lubrication can cause major engine damage and failure.

Tyre pressure warning light

If you get this symbol it means you either have a problem with your tyre pressure or there is a fault with your tyre pressure monitoring system. 

If this light occurs it’s best to check the pressure of your tyres and inflate or deflate them accordingly as driving with under or over-inflated tyres can damage your tyres and is unsafe.

Engine temperature warning light

If you see this symbol it means your engine is overheating. The most common cause for this is low coolant, however there are other factors that can cause your engine to overheat.

If you get this light whilst driving you should pull over when it’s safe to do so and allow your car to cool down for 15 minutes. It’s important to not open the bonnet as this could cause burns/ injuries from steam or smoke coming out of the engine. You should then top up your coolant if it’s low or call for roadside assistance.

Traction control alert light

This light is an indication that your transaction control has been activated. Transaction control works with your ABS to determine when one wheel is spinning faster than the others; it will then apply the brakes until the car regains traction.

When this light appears you should be wary of slippy driving conditions such as in snow or rain.

Anti-lock braking system (ABS) warning light

When this light appears it means there's something wrong with your ABS system. As this is an important safety feature if this light appears you should arrange for a professional to diagnose the problem. 

Engine warning light/ check engine light

If this light appears it signifies there is a problem with your engine. This can be triggered by a variety of reasons and can sometimes not be serious so if you get this light and you don’t notice any weird smells or sounds you can continue driving a short distance to get your car checked out. 

If the light is flashing or is red this signifies you have a serious problem and you should stop driving as soon as it is safe to do so and seek roadside assistance.

Battery alert light

This light signifies an issue with the vehicle's charging system and could be a result of a damaged/ old battery, a faulty alternator or another electrical fault. Some common signs of an electrical fault is the car struggling to start or your headlights becoming dimmer. 

Brake warning light

When this symbol appears it generally means your handbrake is still engaged and so the first thing to do when you see this light is to stop and check your handbrake. You should also engage and disengage your handbrake to see if the light stays on. 

If the light remains on even after disengaging your handbrake this could be an indication that there's a fault with your brakes and so you should arrange for an inspection as soon as possible.

Washer fluid indicator light 

This symbol simply means you are low on washer fluid and so and the nearest opportunity you should top up your washer fluid as this can be a MOT fail.


If you're experiencing any of these faults or have a light you are unsure about then get in touch and a member of our team will be happy to help.