Auto PartsTech Tips

Warning lights

If your car’s going to have a problem, chances are it’s going to happen out on the road. Most likely, the first indication you’ll have of a problem is a warning light on the dashboard. Sometimes, these take the form of the ubiquitous check engine light. If so, you’ll need a code reader to decipher the problem further. Sometimes, though, a different warning light will go off, that will be easy enough to self-diagnose with a little logic.

Most cars have a warning light in the form of a battery, which indicating a problem with the car’s charging system. Did your car stall when this light came on? If so, you’ve likely got a problem with the battery itself. If the car’s still running, this means that the battery is still working but something else in the charging system isn’t working. This may indicate a broken or slipping alternator belt, or worse, a worn or damaged alternator. Your car may continue to run, but if you keep going, your battery will be on borrowed time.

You may have one, two or three brake system warning lights. The most common of these is the simple brake warning light. This indicates whether or not the parking brake is on, but usually also indicates low brake fluid level. If this light comes on, pull over to a safe stop immediately and check the fluid level at the reservoir on the brake master cylinder. If you’re had a sudden fluid loss on the road, you most likely have a severe leak, and will need to call a tow truck. Another brake warning light is for the brake pad wear indicator. Not all cars are equipped with brake pad wear sensors, but if this comes on, it means it’s time to replace your brake pads, and probably rotors, also. The third light is the ABS warning light, which indicates a fault in the anti-lock brake system. For the most part, your brakes will still work, but without the anti-lock function. If you see that light, proceed with caution and allow yourself extra stopping distance.

If you’ve been ignoring the fuel gauge, the low fuel level warning light is your final warning to get yourself to a gas station soon. Also, chances are there’s a coolant temperature/coolant level warning light. If this light comes on, pull over before your car overheats. You may simply be low on coolant, but you may find that you have a leak that needs to be repaired. On more modern vehicles, you may find that you have a tire pressure m

onitoring system warning light. When this light goes off, pull over and check tire pressure. If it’s OK, then you need to check for an additional malfunction.

Bottom line, these lights are your last warning before a major problem. If any of them make themselves know, it’s nest to pull over immediately and try to determine the source of the problem.

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