Safety on the road is no accident. For example, when a warning light illuminates on a car’s dashboard, it is alerting you to a situation that requires your attention.
While not all warning lights are a sign that disaster is imminent, no warning indicator should ever be ignored.
That’s the word from the experts at AAA, who encourage motorists to read their owner’s manual and know what each of the warning lights in their vehicle means.
To help, they offer the following tips:
Oil Pressure Light
The oil pressure light is usually an oilcan symbol or the word “OIL.” It comes on when there is a drop in engine oil pressure. Of all the warning lights, the oil pressure light indicates the greatest potential for serious mechanical damage.
If the oil pressure warning light comes on and stays on, pull off the road at the earliest safe opportunity, shut off the engine and call for assistance.
Engine Temperature Light
The engine temperature light is usually a thermometer symbol or the word “TEMP.” It comes on when the engine temperature is unsafe for your vehicle. Unless the engine temperature is quickly brought under control, major damage may occur.
If there are any signs of a cooling system leak, pull off the road at the earliest safe opportunity, shut off the engine and call for assistance.
Be careful when opening the hood in the presence of steam, and never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot.
Charging System Light
The charging system light is usually a battery symbol or the word “ALT” or “GEN.” It comes on when the vehicle electrical system is no longer being supplied power by the alternator.
If this light comes on, shut down all unnecessary electrical loads such as the radio, heater or air-conditioning, then drive the vehicle to a repair facility immediately for further inspection.
Check Engine Light
The check engine light comes on when there is a problem affecting the vehicle’s exhaust emissions.
If the light comes on and stays on, make an appointment with an auto repair shop to have the problem checked in the near future.
However, if the check engine light begins flashing repeatedly, the catalytic converter is over-heating. Should this occur, drive the vehicle to a repair shop immediately for further diagnosis.
Disregarding a flashing check engine light could start a fire, destroy the catalytic converter and result in necessary repairs that could easily exceed $1,000.