Motoring News

How many of these car light symbols can you name?

Most of us have probably had the unpleasant experience of a light coming up on the dashboard, coupled with a sinking feeling down in our tummy. You might be asking yourself 'What does that symbol mean?'  and 'is the car about to self-combust?'

If you are curious, have crack at our car light symbol test below (the answers are below). Never fear if you are a little unfamiliar, we have helpful tips and information below on what each symbols means and what you can do.

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do you know the lights



1. Brake system warning light

If the red light is still showing even after you have fully released the parking brake, or if it turns on while you are driving, it could indicate a low brake fluid level. Unless you are familiar with checking brake fluid levels yourself, it is recommended to seek professional assistance.

If the ABS warning light (number 4) is also lit, it means that there is a malfunction in the braking system and your brakes may not work correctly. In such cases, the Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) warning light may also be on.

Is it safe to continue driving with the brake warning light on in your car?

It is not advisable to take the risk. Your brakes are one of the most crucial safety components of your car, so it is essential to take immediate action when you see the red brake warning light.
Pull over and come to a stop as soon as it is safe to do so. Maintain a low speed and avoid sudden braking. Visit an AA Auto Centre or Approved Repairer nearby or call for AA Roadservice if you have a breakdown, as it is not worth driving with improperly functioning brakes.

2. Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) Airbag warning light

When the airbag warning light turns red, it indicates a malfunction in at least one component of the airbag safety system. This could be related to the airbag system itself, the front passenger occupant classification system (which detects the weight and position of the front passenger to deploy the airbag safely), or the seat belt pretensioner system (which tightens the seat belt during a crash).

Is it safe to continue driving with the airbag light is on?

If the airbag system is not functioning correctly, it may fail to deploy during a crash or, in some cases, deploy unexpectedly and cause a crash. Considering the vital role the airbag system plays in ensuring your safety, it is crucial to have it inspected immediately when the warning light comes on.

3. Power steering warning light EPS or EPAS

In the case of electric-powered systems, resolving this problem may be as simple as restarting your car. Find a safe location to stop your car and attempt to turn it off. Wait for approximately 30 seconds before turning it back on. If the warning light remains on, it is advisable to have your car checked as soon as possible.

If the power steering system fails, you will notice that manoeuvring the car becomes more difficult. It is important to take extra caution, especially when driving at high speeds on the motorway without the assistance of power steering. This situation can pose potential dangers, so it is recommended to be attentive and seek prompt resolution for the issue.

4. Anti-lock brake system (ABS) warning Light

ABS, which stands for Anti-lock Braking System, is a crucial safety feature that proves particularly valuable during sudden stops or challenging driving conditions.

Is it safe to drive with the ABS light illuminated?

If the ABS light is on and no other light is lit, your vehicle's braking system should still function normally without assistance. Therefore, it is generally safe to continue your journey. However, it is important to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, take extra caution, and arrange for a professional inspection as soon as possible.

However, if the ABS light comes on along with the brake warning light, it could indicate a potential brake system failure. In such cases, it is crucial to stop your vehicle immediately and contact AA Roadservice if you can. Prioritise your safety and seek immediate professional assistance.

5. Low tyre pressure warning

Many modern cars are equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems that alert you when the pressure drops, either gradually over time or due to a puncture.

Most petrol stations and garages provide access to air compressors for checking and topping up tire pressure. Consult your vehicle owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommended specifications and use the available resources to inflate your tires accordingly.

6. Engine temperature warning light

When the engine is overheating, this warning light will activate. It signifies that the coolant levels may be low, possibly due to a system leak, or it could indicate a more significant issue such as a head gasket failure.

Is it safe to continue driving with the engine overheating light illuminated?

If this warning light appears in red, it is crucial to stop immediately. Insufficient coolant can cause the engine to reach such high temperatures that it may suffer irreparable damage, effectively seizing up.

Bring your vehicle to a halt and wait for the engine to cool down before checking the gauge on the coolant tank located under the bonnet. If needed, add coolant as per the instructions provided. You can refer to our guide on how to check your engine coolant.

While inspecting the engine compartment, take a look for any visible signs of leaks. If no leaks are apparent and the warning light goes off after adding coolant, it should be safe to resume your journey. However, if the light reappears after adding coolant, it is advisable to have the underlying problem diagnosed and repaired.

7. Engine oil warning light

The oil warning light illuminates when the oil temperature rises excessively or when the oil level or pressure drops too low. Insufficient lubrication of the engine due to these issues can lead to costly or even irreparable damage, underscoring the need for prompt action.

Is it safe to drive with the low engine oil light illuminated?

When this warning light activates, it is crucial to stop your vehicle as soon as possible and turn off the engine. Inspect the area underneath the car for any visible oil leaks, and then proceed to check the oil levels. If necessary, add oil to bring it to the appropriate level.

If the oil levels are adequate, a faulty oil pump may be the cause. In such cases, it is recommended to contact recovery services if you have breakdown cover, as driving further could result in engine damage.

While examining the engine compartment, inspect for any noticeable oil leaks. If no leaks are evident and the warning light goes off after adding oil, you should be able to continue your journey safely. However, if the light reappears after topping up, it is advisable to have the underlying problem addressed by visiting an AA Auto Centre or an Approved repairer.

8. Battery warning light

If the battery charging indicator light is on while driving, it signifies that the battery is not being charged. This can be attributed to potential issues within your car's electrical system, such as a defective alternator, faulty battery, poor electrical connection, or damaged wiring.

Is it safe to continue driving when the battery charging system light is on?

Your vehicle will continue to operate normally until the battery is completely drained. However, once the battery is depleted, all electrical components in your car will stop functioning. Therefore, it is advisable to promptly visit a garage or repair shop to address the issue before your battery runs out of power.

In the event that your battery does lose its charge, you can attempt to jump-start it or contact a professional. Contact AA Battery for assistance.

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