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What the Symbols on Your Car's Dashboard Mean

Learn what the symbols on your dashboard mean and what your next move should be.

Most Common Dashboard Symbols and What They Mean

It's not until a light on your dashboard turns on that you think to yourself, "What does that mean?! Is it serious? Should I get my vehicle checked?" Some dashboard indicator lights are merely indicators or simple alerts, and others are telling you there may be something seriously wrong with your vehicle or its components. Although some dashboard symbols are more obvious than others, all of us at Sullivan Tire and Auto Service are here to identify and explain the move universal dashboard symbols. 

For an exact meaning for certain symbols on your dashboard that may not be listed below, please view your vehicle's owner manual or request an appointment with us at Sullivan Tire and Auto Service.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System Warning Icon

Tire Pressure Warning Light

Also known as the TPMS symbol, the tire pressure warning symbol indicates that the air pressure in one of your tires is either too low or too high. The air pressure will need to be adjusted in your tire(s) right away to ensure extensive damage isn't done to your tire or vehicle. 

Learn more about tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).

Battery Dashboard Icon

Battery Alert Light

When the battery symbol is illuminated, it means there is an issue with the vehicle's charging system. The issue could be directly related to your car battery, or it could be an indication that you have a corroded battery cable, a worn alternator, or another electrical fault in the system. Have your vehicle examined and diagnosed with a Sullivan Tire and Auto Service technician to pinpoint the exact electrical issue.

Request an auto service appointment with Sullivan Tire and Auto Service.

Traction Control Icon

Traction Control Light

When the traction control light is momentarily turned on, it's indicating the system has turned on to apply the brakes to limit the wheels from slipping on wet, icy, sandy, etc., roads. If it turned on and stays on, it means there is a problem with your traction control system and it will need to be repaired. 

Request an auto service appointment with Sullivan Tire and Auto Service.

Anti-lock Brake Warning Light ABS

Anti-lock Brake Warning Light (ABS)

Your anti-lock braking system (ABS) works with your traction control system. When traction control is initiated, your (ABS) turns on pulsing the brakes to prevent the wheels from locking up. This is important when braking on slick, icy, snowy, or sandy roads. If this light is illuminated, it could mean there is a faulty wheel sensor or there's an issue with the ABS controller.

Request an auto service appointment with Sullivan Tire and Auto Service.

Low Fuel Indicator Light

Low Fuel Indicator Light

When the gas pump symbol is illuminated on your dashboard, it is notifying you that your fuel tank is almost out of gas or diesel. It can also potentially light up when your gas cap is loose or open.

Request an auto service appointment with Sullivan Tire and Auto Service.

Airbag Icon

Airbag Warning Light

Should this airbag light be illuminated, your vehicle is telling you there is a problem with your airbag or supplemental restraint system (SRS). You should seek immediate assistance to have your SRS diagnosed to ensure your airbag works in the event of a car accident. 

Request an auto service appointment with Sullivan Tire and Auto Service. 

Engine Temperature Warning Light Icon

Engine Temperature Warning Light

This illuminated symbol means that your engine may be overheating. Generally speaking, it could be caused by your vehicle's coolant (antifreeze) or many other reasons. You should seek immediate assistance with diagnosing and repairing your vehicle before further damage occurs. 

Request an auto service appointment with Sullivan Tire and Auto Service.

Oil Pressure Warning Light Icon

Oil Pressure Warning Light

The oil can symbol indicates an issue with your car's oil pressure system. Your car is either running low on oil or your oil pump isn't circulating enough fluid to lubricate the components of your vehicle. This issue should be addressed immediately to avoid serious damage to your engine. 

Request an auto service appointment with Sullivan Tire and Auto Service.

Check Engine Light Icon

Engine Warning Light (Check Engine Light)

The check engine light may appear for many reasons. Some more serious than others requiring immediate attention. It could indicate anything from your gas cap being open or a more serious issue like premature engine failure. If the check engine light is on, you should seek immediate assistance. In most vehicles, a flashing check engine light indicates a more serious issue and you should not drive your vehicle!

Have your check engine light diagnosed by a trained Sullivan Tire and Auto Service technician performing our computer diagnostics service.

Brake Warning Light Icon

Brake Warning Light

If this brake warning light is illuminated, the emergency or parking brake is either engaged or there is an issue with the braking system. Try setting and releasing the emergency brake while your vehicle is in park and safe to do so. If it does not turn off, have your car towed to the nearest Sullivan Tire and Auto Service to be examined. Driving on a potentially faulty braking system can cause serious harm to you, your passengers, the vehicle, and others on the road.

Request a brake service appointment with Sullivan Tire and Auto Service.

Transmission Warning Light Icon

Transmission Warning Light

When this red or yellow transmission warning symbol is illuminated, your car is alerting you that your transmission is overheating. If this warning light turns on, you should immediately stop your vehicle and turn it off when it's safe to do so. Your transmission could be overheating when there are low transmission fluid levels, worn internal components, and several other reasons. 

Request an auto service appointment with Sullivan Tire and Auto Service. 

Pre-Collision Warning Light Icon

Pre-Collison Warning Light

The pre-collision warning light indicates a malfunction in the pre-collision system. A sensor may be compromised and will not be able to warn the driver of a potential collision. If this pre-collision warning light is turned on, see immediate assistance from a Sullivan Tire and Auto Service technician trained in repairing advanced drive-assistance system (ADAS) components. 

Request a computer diagnostics appointment with Sullivan Tire and Auto Service.

Lane Departure Icon

Lane Departure Warning Light

If the lane departure warning light is illuminated, it means that your vehicle is drifting out of your lane. The lane departure warning works when the painted road lines are clear and bright on both sides of your vehicle. To avoid a collision, you should immediately correct your steering to stay in your designated lane. 

Learn more about Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS).

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