Warning Lights: The Big Three
When you first start your car you’ll notice a bunch of red and yellow lights illuminate briefly then go off. Hopefully they stay off and you don’t see them again until the next engine start. It is important to know what all these lights mean in the case that one does stay on or come on in the future.
There are three big warning lights to be aware of; the light that monitors your engine oil pressure, engine coolant temperature, and the vehicle charging system. If any of these lights do appear on your dash it is important to check your owner’s manual and/or call your repair facility to have the issue fixed.
Engine oil pressure light
The most common symbols for this light are a small oil can or the word “OIL”. When this warning light is illuminated it is a sign that your engine has lost its supply of pressurized lubricating oil. If this is not addressed quickly you can do major damage to your engine and/or have complete engine failure.
Engine coolant temperature
The common symbols for this warning light are a small thermometer or “TEMP” will be illuminated. When this warning light comes on it is a sign that the engine temperature has exceeded the safe maximum. If this light appears it is very important that you look for steam or fluid coming from your engine area. If either of these things is happening pull over and shut off your vehicle. It still may not be safe to drive your vehicle if the light is on without steam or leaking fluid. You still may do damage to your engine if you continue to drive. Important notes to keep in mind-NEVER loosen or remove your radiator cap while the vehicle is hot! This can cause severe burns.
The charging system warning light appears as a battery symbol or the logo “ALT” or “GEN”. When this light appears, it is a warning that the vehicle’s electrical system is not supplying enough power to your ignition system. If this light appears, turn off all unnecessary electrical accessories such as your radio, air conditioning, etc. Bring your vehicle to your repair facility as soon as you can to have the vehicle inspected. If you wait too long, your vehicle may not start and you will have to have it towed.