Warning lights on your car, what do they mean?

Zamil Syaheer · May 22, 2020 02:31 PM

How many of you are aware of the warning lights on your car's meter cluster? You're not alone if you don't have a slightest clue at all. 

Unsurprisingly, some of us choose to ignore the warning lights entirely until the car eventually breaks down, and by the time that happens, it is a little too late to cry.

While some warning lights may seem unimportant, it’s good to know what they mean and how to react next. Usually, warning lights illuminate whenever there is a problem with one or more of your car’s functions. If left unchecked, small problems can turn into major repairs. 

In many cars, the warning lights will illuminate briefly when the engine is turned on. If warning lights remain illuminated for a longer time, you should take your vehicle in for a check-up.

In this article, we are going to cover the most common symbols. Let's begin, shall we?

Red, Yellow/Orange, Green, and Blue Lights

Did you know the color of the warning light represents the level of severity of the problem? Now you know.

A RED warning light demands immediate attention, while YELLOW/ORANGE warning lights indicate a problem that needs to be serviced soon.

If you see a GREEN or BLUE light, this normally indicates that a certain car function is turned on or is currently in use.

Warning Symbols

Please refer to the visual in left to right order.

Battery Light: The car’s electrical system is short of power or the battery is not charging properly. It normally indicates a problem with the battery itself or the alternator.

Oil Pressure: Loss of oil pressure, meaning engine oil lubrication is low or completely lost.

Brake System: Brake issue. You may also see a light that says “Brake.” This can indicate that either the handbrake is still engaged, low brake fluid, or there is fault in the brake system.

Temperature: The engine is, or is very close to overheating. You may also have a temperature gauge with a red section (H) at the highest end.

Parking: Your handbrake or electronic parking brake (EPB) is currently engaged.

Airbag Warning: Airbag is not functioning, or there is issue with the system.

Safety Symbols

Check Engine: The famous symbol among all, it indicates a general engine running problem. Sometimes the word “CHECK”  or “CHECK ENGINE” appears near the engine symbol, or it may appear as a word, without any symbols.

Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS): Usually equipped on higher-end carsthe symbol appears when one or more of your tyres have low pressure. It is usually red or yellow.

Traction Control: If the light illuminates or flash it means that the system has been activated for your safety.

Traction Control Off: The system has been manually deactivated, usually appears during off-road or high-performance track driving scenarios. For normal driving, never turn off traction or stability control.

Anti-Lock Braking: There is something wrong with the anti-lock brake system, which requires professional diagnosis to fix.

4x4 Symbols

4x4 Engaged: Your truck is currently in 4x4 mode, whether in 4L (4 Low) or 4H (4 High). Never use 4L or 4H in normal driving conditions.

4x4 Diff Lock Engaged: When this button/knob is engaged, it locks both front or rear wheels for equal split of torque between the front and drear axles. Only do this in extreme off-road driving conditions.


Now, there are more symbols out there than what we’re covering right here, but these are the most common ones that will appear during the course of your car ownership.

Please refer to your car’s manual for specific information, especially for higher-end modern cars that come with more intricate electronics, which require more care and attention.