When driving, your car’s dashboard is the main communication between you and your vehicle’s systems. Understanding what the various warning lights mean can help you maintain your vehicle in good condition and also ensure your safety on the road. In the UK, car warning lights are generally universal, though some symbols may vary slightly by manufacturer. Here's a guide to some of the most common warning lights in UK vehicles and what you should do if they illuminate.

If you are still unsure, contact our team at Eden Motor Group and we can help you navigate your vehicle.

1. Engine Warning Light (Check Engine Light)

The engine warning light, often displayed as an engine symbol or the words "check engine," is one of the most common and multifunctional indicators on a dashboard. If this light comes on, it could indicate anything from a minor issue like a loose gas cap to more severe problems such as a malfunctioning catalytic converter. It’s advisable to have your car checked by a professional mechanic as soon as possible to avoid potential damage to your vehicle.

2. Oil Pressure Warning Light

Displayed as an old-style oil can, this light warns you when there’s not enough oil pressure in the engine. A lack of oil can cause severe damage to your engine, so if this light comes on, stop the car as soon as it's safe to do so and check the oil level. If the oil level is adequate, the issue might be a faulty oil pump or a blockage in the oil system, requiring professional attention.

3. Temperature Warning Light

This light looks like a thermometer submerged in water and alerts you when your engine temperature is higher than it should be. This could be due to low coolant levels, a cooling system leak, or a radiator problem. Continuing to drive with an overheated engine can lead to significant engine damage.

4. Brake System Warning Light

Typically represented by an exclamation mark inside a circle, surrounded by parentheses, this light signals a potential issue with your brake system. It might be something as simple as having the handbrake slightly engaged, or it could indicate that your brake fluid levels are low or perhaps a problem with your brake pads. You should address brake warnings immediately to ensure your vehicle can stop effectively.

5. Battery Charge Warning Light

Shown as a battery symbol, this light comes on when there's an issue with your vehicle’s charging system. It does not necessarily mean the battery is faulty; it could indicate a problem with the alternator or related components. If this light comes on, it's advisable to get your electrical system checked as soon as possible.

6. ABS Warning Light

The ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) warning light, often just the letters "ABS" in a circle and parentheses, indicates a problem with the anti-lock braking system. The brakes should still function, but the anti-lock feature, which prevents the wheels from locking during an emergency stop, may not engage - if this occurs, this can be severe - get this checked out by a professional.

7. Airbag Warning Light

This light, typically showing a person with a seatbelt on being hit by an airbag, indicates a fault with the airbag system. Airbags are critical safety features, and any potential issues with them need to be checked immediately to ensure they function properly in the event of an accident.

8. Power Steering Warning Light

Often represented by a steering wheel next to an exclamation mark, this warning light indicates a problem with the power steering system. This could make the vehicle harder to steer, especially at lower speeds, which might increase the risk of an accident, particularly in tight or sudden manoeuvres.

9. Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Light

This light, which looks like an exclamation mark inside a flat tyre, illuminates when one or more of your tyres are significantly under-inflated. Driving on under-inflated tyres can cause tyre wear and affect your car's handling and fuel efficiency. It can also increase the risk of a tyre blowout.

10. Traction Control or ESP Light

Symbolised by a car with skid marks, this light alerts you when the traction control system is activated. It may light up briefly in slippery conditions, which is normal. However, if it stays on, it could indicate a fault with the traction control system, designed to help drivers maintain control on slippery surfaces.

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Understanding what each warning light on your dashboard represents can significantly contribute to safer driving and more effective vehicle maintenance. Always refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for specific guidance related to your car’s particular make and model. If you're unsure about warning lights or car behaviours, consult a professional mechanic to ensure your car is in optimal running condition. Keeping an eye on these indicators can prevent minor issues from developing into major repairs, saving you time and money in the long run.