So, you’ve started your car and see a blinking light on your dashboard…we’ve all been there. While these symbols may be well known by many, it is always great to have a quick refresher about what each one represents. So, whether you are a novice driver or an absolute pro, here are some of the most important car maintenance lights you should know and what they mean for your car when you see them.

1. Check windshield wiper fluid

windshield wiper fluid

This easy-to-spot maintenance light shows drivers when they need to replace their windshield wiper fluid. What looks like an outline of a windshield with a jet of water going upwards is what you need to look out for.

2. A door is open

door ajar

This next maintenance light is meant to let the driver know that a door is open, or ‘ajar’, in the vehicle. The image is usually red and depicts an overhead view of the car with either one or two doors open on the sides.

3. Low fuel level

low fuel

This essential (and most common) sign will light up on your dashboard when your fuel level is low. It is shown as a picture of a fuel pump with the nozzle latched to the side.

4. Have a professional check your airbags

car maintenance lights - check airbag

The airbag light usually turns on when you start your vehicle. However, if it remains on while you are driving, this can signify a problem. We suggest getting your airbags checked by your mechanic, just to be sure.

5. Your seatbelt (or a passenger’s) is not on

seatbelt sign

Simply put, when you see this sign, it usually means that your seatbelt or a passenger’s is not on. The solution? Make sure to put your seatbelts on before you even start your vehicle. Remember, it’s the law, so buckle up!

6. Your engine may have an issue

check engine light

This is one of the more worrisome lights a driver can see in their car; the ‘check engine’ light. Usually, this light will look like the silhouette of an engine or even say in all-caps, “CHECK ENGINE.” Despite how handy you may be, it is always best to take your vehicle to a trained professional. Bring your car to run a diagnostic report to figure out the exact problem. The sooner you act and fix the problem, the better. 

7. Check tire pressure light

car maintenance lights - air pressure

The following maintenance light lets the driver know their tire pressure is low and should be checked. This light looks like a half-circle with bumps representing the tire’s tread and an exclamation mark in the middle of the circle. If this sign shows up, make sure to pull over at a safe place and inspect your tires. If they look deflated, drive carefully to the nearest gas station and top up your tires. Once you’ve filled them up, the maintenance light should go away. If not, you might have a leak in your tire. 

8. Time for an oil change

oil change light

Motor oil provides lubricant for the engine. Without it, it can lead to severe and dangerous repercussions for not just your engine, but your vehicle as a whole. If you see a leaking gravy boat on your dashboard, it is your sign to check up on your oil level and/or pressure. As a rule of thumb, your oil should be changed every 11,000 – 15,000km. Most mechanics will put a sticker on the inside of your windshield to remind you of your next oil change. If the maintenance light does not turn off after topping off the oil in your car, have your vehicle checked by a professional as soon as possible. 

9. Your brakes need to be checked

car maintenance lights - check brakes

Brakes are essential; there is no denying it. So if you are driving and see this red circle with an exclamation mark in the middle, pay close attention and take immediate action. This maintenance light shows when there is an issue with the brakes. Whether with the braking components or your hydraulic fuel can use a top-off, you should figure it out as soon as possible. Driving without a fully functional braking system is hazardous. so take care of it immediately. 

10. The battery may need to be charged or replaced

car maintenance lights - check battery

If the silhouette of a red battery flashes onto your dashboard, it may mean that your car battery can use some attention. Sometimes, your car may stall as a result of this maintenance light appearing, especially in colder weather. If that is the case, it most likely means your car’s battery charging system is not working as it should. Make sure to get a diagnostics analysis on your car by a trained professional if you see this light pop up. You may need a charge or a replacement, as most car batteries need replacing every three years.

11. Check coolant temperature

car maintenance lights - coolant temperature

Unlike the picture above, this maintenance light is often also found in red. If you see this sign of a thermometer in the water, it typically means that your car is overheating. There are different ways that this can happen, but the best thing to do is to shut off the engine and let your engine cool down. If you pop the lid with a rag after waiting some time and the engine is not cooling down, consider calling a tow service or CAA. It will not be safe to drive while your engine is overheating!

12. Fog lights are on

fog light

The symbol above is meant to let you, the driver, know that your fog lights, or high beams, are on. Fog lights are an extreme hazard when passing oncoming drivers, as they reduce a passing vehicle’s visibility, potentially causing an accident. Make sure to only use them when needed, and use discretion when turning them on or off. If you use them within 300 metres of oncoming traffic or 150 metres of a driver in front of you, there may be serious repercussions. This can includes a traffic ticket or worst of all, the injury of yourself or others.

13. Check your Anti-Lock Breaking System (ABS)

car maintenance lights - ABS

Connected to the traction control system, the Anti-Lock Breaking System, or ABS, comes into effect if you break hard like you would with slick roads or slippery conditions. However, if you see this car maintenance light on your dashboard, something is wrong with this system. Since this is such a vital system to your vehicle that ensures the safety of you and your passengers, you must bring your vehicle in to run a diagnostic report to fix the problem as soon as possible.

14. Check your traction control

car maintenance lights - car traction

This maintenance light in the shape of a car is meant to let the driver know that the traction of their vehicle is off and the traction control system has been activated. This system comes from your ABS, which notifies you when one wheel is going faster than the others, and then the brake is automatically applied. If this happens, you should continue driving, but be sure to drive carefully, especially when driving in slippery conditions.

Your safety is always our priority, and obtaining the proper insurance coverage is the first step you should take. Additionally, it is always important to remain vigilant and heed what your car tells you. Ensuring that you upkeep your vehicle is essential. If you have any issues or concerns about your car, be sure to reach out to a professional. As always, if you need any help regarding your insurance policy, please contact your isure broker at 905-264-8550.

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