What these 9 symbols on your car's dashboard mean

1. Engine temperature warning light


Red means the engine is too hot. You should probably turn the engine off, let the car cool down for at least 30 minutes, and check the coolant level.


Blue means the engine is too cold (this sign usually illuminates on engine start), and is perfectly normal. Let the engine warm up before driving off.

2. Tire Pressure Warning Light

tire pressure warning light

A lot of drivers panic when they see this symbol - and immediately call a friend or drive straight to the workshop to get it checked out. Relax ! This symbol just means that one of your tires is not pumped with the correct pressure. Just drive to the nearest petrol station and pump your tires, and remember to reset the tire pressure in your car’s settings so that it can start monitoring your tire’s pressure accurately.

3. Oil pressure warning

oil pressure warning light

This symbol means that your car’s engine is probably low on engine oil, or that there may be a problem with the car’s engine oil pressure system. If your car has enough engine oil, then it’s best to get this checked out by a mechanic.

4. Engine Warning

check engine light

This light is like a ‘catch all’ warning light. It’s difficult to diagnose what exactly the problem is if this light comes on, as it can be due to a variety of reasons - sensors going haywire, engine problem, spark plugs etc. If you have a fault code scanner, plug it into your OBD port in the car and it can hopefully help to pinpoint the exact problem. Many drivers also tend to ignore this warning light because sometimes it can just be a malfunction or minor issue. Whatever it is, we’d still recommend getting it checked before the problem escalates into a more expensive repair.

5. Anti-lock brake

anti lock brake warning

The anti-lock brake system (or ABS) works by helping you, the driver, maintain some steering ability and avoid skidding while braking. When you brake hard, the car can skid, which makes it difficult to control. What ABS does is it has sensors that can detect if one or more wheels are locking up during braking. If a wheel is locking up, ABS can limit or reduce the braking on that wheel to prevent the brakes from locking up.

This warning light then - means that there could be a potential issue with your ABS system

6. Battery light

battery light

Your car’s battery is essential to the operations of your car. Without it - your car won’t start. This light could mean that your battery is close to draining, or that your alternator is not charging enough and your car may be relying on just the battery power alone.

7. Fog lights

fog lights

You may see this light once in awhile, and thank god - this does not mean there is a problem with your car. This light simply means that your fog lights are on. (fog lights are usually the smaller lights below your headlights - like the one shown below)

car fog lights
windshield washer fluid

This means that the water in the windscreen washer reservoir is low. You can top it up using normal tap water  

9. Power steering warning

power steering warning light

Most modern cars today come with power steering. Ever wondered how your steering wheel is able to turn so effortlessly? You have power steering to thank - it helps you turn the steering wheel on your car so that you don’t get an arm workout everytime you drive.

This warning light means that there could be an issue with your power steering system. If your car comes with hydraulic power steering, this could mean that your power steering fluid is low and should be topped up at the earliest opportunity. If your car comes with electric power steering, try restarting your engine. Sometimes it can just be a computer glitch causing the light to illuminate.

If you’ve done the above and the light it still on, try turning your steering wheel. If it feels heavy or stiff - get it checked by a mechanic right away as it can be unsafe to drive.