Petrol Car Warning Lights: What Does That Dashboard Symbol Mean?

We’ve all been there: you’re driving to your destination when a car warning light starts flashing on the dashboard. Should you keep driving? Or pull over immediately?

While some of these dashboard warning lights are benign, others are serious. There are a few ways to know the difference. This guide will explain what some common dashboard symbols mean and what you should do about them.


What Does it Mean if the Light is Flashing?

If a car warning light is steady, or if it appears briefly and disappears, the problem is likely not urgent. However, it is still worth investigating.

If a car warning light is blinking or flashing consistently, you should stop the car safely because it could indicate a serious problem.



Warning lights on car dashboard symbols can vary from car to car. Some will include text while others may not, but in general they should look similar.

Here are 18 common car warning lights.


Not to Worry (Too Much)

These are the car warning lights that need attention, but you can usually take care of the issue yourself. In some cases, you can resolve the problem immediately, simply by shutting a door.

Open Door Warning

A door is open in your car. Some newer cars can tell you exactly which door, while others make you guess. It’s safer to pull over and re-shut all of the doors before driving. When all the doors are shut, the light should go out.

Open Boot Warning

This one’s pretty straightforward; someone hasn’t shut the boot properly. Park the car in a safe spot, shut the boot, and make sure it stays shut. When it’s secure, the light should go out.

Open Bonnet Warning

This time it’s the bonnet. Once again, park your car (safely!) and shut the bonnet firmly. When it’s truly closed, the light should go out.

Seat Belt Warning

Someone in the car hasn’t fastened their seat belt. Make sure all occupants are buckled up. If the light still doesn’t go out, it’s possible that a weight on one of the seats is tricking the car into thinking that there’s someone sitting there.

Low Fuel Warning

You know what this means—your car is thirsty for fuel. Don’t push your luck (especially if you drive a vehicle with a diesel engine). Get yourself to the nearest petrol station or you might wind up stranded.


You Might Need a Mechanic

These are the lights that may not pose an immediate danger, but could become a problem if ignored. In some cases, you may be able to fix the problem yourself. In others, you should see a mechanic sooner rather than later.

Check Engine

This is one of the most confusing warning light on car dashboard symbols, because it can mean a number of things. If the light is flashing red, it’s wise to stop the car and investigate. If it’s orange or yellow and solid, you should make an appointment to see a mechanic as soon as possible.

Power Steering Warning

If you have a hydraulic power steering system, you may need to top up your power steering fluid. You should also be conscious that this could indicate a leak, which you should get checked out by a mechanic.

If you have an electric power steering system, the light may say ‘EPS.’ It could be a computer error in the car; turning the car off and back on may cause the light to go away. If the light remains, you should take your car to an auto professional for further diagnosis.

Low Tyre Pressure Warning

The system that monitors your tyres thinks that one or more of your tyres has low air pressure. Check all of your tyres; if that doesn’t fix the problem there could be a problem with the system. You may need to take your car to an auto electrician.

Low Washer Fluid Warning

If your washer fluid is low, you can top it up yourself or have an auto professional do it. If the light remains on, there could be a problem with the sensor and you will need to have it investigated further.

Glow Plug Light (Diesel Engines Only)

Diesels need a little extra time to heat up in cold weather, so they rely on glow plugs for assistance. If this light is solid, your engine may just be pre-heating. If it flashes, there may be a problem with one of your glow plugs.

If this light is flashing, you should take your vehicle to a professional as it may need a new glow plug or there could be a problem with the sensor.

Air Bag Warning

While this doesn’t pose a threat to the car’s driving abilities, a problem with your airbags could be a serious safety risk for you and your passengers; they may not deploy in an accident. You should take your vehicle to a professional to fix the problem.

Service Required

This light is usually a reminder that you need to get an oil and filter change. It’s a good idea to get your car serviced as early as possible but does not necessarily indicate a problem with the car.


Stop The Car: You Need an Auto Professional

These are the warning lights to worry about, especially if they’re flashing red. You should pull over to a safe location and contact an auto mechanic immediately.

If you continue to drive when one of these lights is flashing red, you could be doing serious damage to your car and risking your safety.

Battery Warning

No one wants to see this one come on, because it shows that your battery is losing its charge. Most cars recharge their batteries as they drive, but if this isn’t happening then something’s not right. A mechanic will likely check your battery and alternator belt for problems.

Brake Warning

This light is a little tricky, because it could be a simple fix or it could be a serious problem. It may be an indication that your handbrake is on; release the handbrake to see if it solves the problem.

If the handbrake is released and the light is still on, stop the car as there could be a serious problem with your brake system. You should see a mechanic as soon as possible.

ABS Warning

ABS is your car’s Anti-lock Braking System. If it is on by itself, pull over and try turning the car on and off.

Even if that doesn’t make the light go away, you should be safe to keep driving. Proceed with caution as it does mean that the ABS is not operating, but the normal brake system should be fine. You will still need to get your car checked out as soon as possible.

If your ABS warning light is on in conjunction with any other brake lights in the car, you should stop driving as soon as it is safe to do so. This is an indication that your brake system is on the fritz. You may need to have your car towed to a mechanic.

Oil Pressure Warning

This light means that your oil pressure is low, and the engine parts aren’t being lubricated as they should be. It may be a simple fix, like topping the car up with oil. It could also be a bigger problem. Either way, you should stop the car and contact a mechanic for advice on how to proceed.

Coolant Temperature Warning

This light usually comes on when you start the car, which is normal. It may even indicate that temperatures are cool until the car warms up; this is also normal.

If the light comes on when you are driving, there could be a problem. For instance, your car could be overheating which could lead to danger. Stop the car in a safe location and let the engine cool down for at least 30 minutes. The car should be safe to drive when the light has gone off, but it will need to be seen by a mechanic as soon as possible to solve the root of the problem.

Ignition Switch Warning

Newer cars have electronic security systems in place to ensure that the right key is being used in the ignition. If this light goes on and you are using the correct key, there may be a problem with the ignition or the key. While the car could still be safe to drive, it may not turn back on the next time it is switched off. This could be a major hassle, so get this checked as soon as possible.

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