There are icons all over the interior of your car. If you have a keyless entry system, your key fob probably also has some icons on it. Those little visual symbols that tell you what a button or knob does are known as icons, and there are some lights on your dashboard that illuminate other icons having to do with car maintenance and mechanical condition. In some cases, the icons illuminate when you activate certain features, such as fog lights. In other cases, these lights illuminate when there is a mechanical problem that needs to be inspected. If you are lucky, you may never see one of these maintenance icons illuminate. But if you do, you should be aware of what they mean so you can get the problem fixed instead of just ignoring the weird red symbol that suddenly turned up out of nowhere.
Maintenance Icon General Description
Car maintenance icons typically appear on a car's dashboard or instrument panel. They may be located above, below, next to or between a car's speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge or temperature gauge. Some cars may have more warning lights than others because they have more features. While the appearance of some icons may vary by manufacturer, these icons generally look similar or even identical. This is due in part to their simplicity. Car maintenance icons have a two-dimensional design that uses as little detail as possible. For this reason, the icons may be a bit difficult to read if you do not have knowledge of what each individual symbol means. Drivers may not realistically be able to memorise each icon, but it is important to recognise which icons indicate a potentially serious problem. If an icon that you have never seen before illuminates on your dashboard, look it up as soon as you are done with your trip. Do not continue to drive; ignoring these symbolic warnings could lead to serious vehicle damage.
Warnings Requiring Immediate Attention
Some dashboard warning lights indicate a potentially serious problem, and these issues require immediate attention. Some of these issues need to be resolved or inspected by a professional, while drivers are likely to be able to handle others on their own. The following are just a few examples of maintenance icon warnings that are related to potentially serious issues.
The temperature warning icon is often located on or near the temperature gauge. This icon resembles a simple vertical thermometer with horizontal prongs. It may be depicted along with two wavy lines. This icon typically illuminates when the engine is overheating, so it is best to shut off the engine as soon as possible if you see this warning.
Brake Lights Warning
When the brake lights warning icon illuminates, it may indicate that one or more of your brake lights are no longer functioning properly. Without properly functioning brake lights, you could end up in a serious traffic accident, so this is not an icon to ignore, even if your car is not in imminent danger. The brake lights icon may appear as a circle partially outlined by two curved lines on either side. The centre of the circle may feature a lightbulb with an X over it.
Automatic Gearbox Warning
Drivers who use an automatic transmission may want to familiarise themselves with their car's automatic gearbox warning, which could be indicative of serious problems. This icon is simple and appears as a circular gear with an exclamation point in the centre.
Less Urgent Icons
There are some car maintenance icons that indicate less severe problems that do not necessarily require immediate attention. Drivers are likely to be able to solve these problems themselves.
Windscreen Washer Fluid Warning
If a light illuminates that looks like a stream of water (represented by a dotted line) spraying over a curved windscreen, you should check your windscreen washer fluid levels. You may need to add more.
Parking Brake Indicator
When you activate your parking brake, an icon will illuminate. This icon resembles a capital letter P inside a circle partially outlined by two curved lines on either side. If this light is on while you are driving, check and make sure your parking brake is not activated.
Air Bag Warning
While this warning light does not need to be immediately attended to, meaning you do not need to pull over during a journey just to have it fixed, it will need attention sooner rather than later. The air bag warning light resembles a seated human figure with a large circle located in front of it. This is the general configuration of all airbag-related warnings.
Your car's dashboard includes several different warning lights that may illuminate when your car has mechanical and other technical problems. These icons may also illuminate during routine tasks such as activating the parking brake. If a light that you do not recognise illuminates, research it as soon as possible. Maintenance icons that indicate potentially dangerous or serious issues should be addressed immediately.