When was the last time you looked at your vehicle’s owner’s manual? A lot of us are remiss with doing this, but among the many important information it contains, there’s a section that we need to really pay attention to: gauge cluster icons.
To help you make the most of your car and keep it in tip-top shape, we’ll go over some of the most common icons you may see on your gauge cluster that indicates whether your car is functioning well or needs a trip to the repair shop.
As a side note, there are hundreds of gauge cluster icons and they may vary from each car manufacturer and even in color. But today we’ll go over the more common and significant ones you should take note of.
Lit up gauge cluster icons; some are okay, and some might be bad
Before getting to the specifics of each, you may have noticed different gauge cluster icons show up as either Red, Yellow, or even Green at times. But did you know that each color has a meaning? Well, it’s not “stop and go”.
Starting with any Red icon you may see, they mean that your car may have a potentially serious problem and needs attending to asap as they could also be a serious safety issue.
Yellow or Orange would indicate that a specific issue would need servicing or repairing soon, but aren’t as urgent as warnings in Red.
Green or Blue would indicate that something is operating or turned on in the car and is not a cause for concern.
Engine Oil Light
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The Engine Oil Light / Oil Pressure Warning icon indicates very low engine oil pressure which in turn means that your car’s pistons aren’t lubricated and are not running as smoothly.
It is best to not drive the car, turn the ignition off, and have your car and its oil level inspected by a mechanic. If you continue to drive with low oil, your engine may seize to run while driving.
Low Fuel Light
One of the more recognizable gauge cluster icons, the Low Fuel Light simply means the car is low on fuel and is using up its reserves. So be sure to take a trip to the pump soon.
Battery Charge Warning Light
The Battery Charge Warning Light indicates that the battery is not being charged and could mean an electrical fault, damaged battery cable, broken alternator belt, or too many electrical systems running.
You want to make sure to turn off all electrical things like the lights, music system, air conditioning, and even unplug your phone. Then be sure to take your vehicle to the servicing center to have the battery system checked.
Airbag fault indicator
This gauge cluster icon lights up when the airbags up front are turned off or if there’s a fault in your airbags or seatbelt system. As such, in the event of a collision, your airbags won’t deploy.
So be sure to have a professional take a look at your car and resolve the solution since not having any airbags may lead to severe injuries.
Car Engine Temperature Warning
This symbol when illuminated Green, simply means that your car’s engine temperature is low. However, when Red, it indicates that your car’s engine temperature is very high and is overheating, commonly due to low coolant or a faulty cooling system.
When it is Red, be sure to switch the AC and music system off, park under a shade, and turn the ignition off. Next, you’ll want to pop open your car’s front hood to let the heat disperse and the engine cool. But be sure not to open the radiator cap while the engine is hot as hot coolant can get all over you and cause severe injuries.
Then you’d also want to be sure to check for the coolant level and top it up if low when the engine has cooled down. But if you’re unsure what to do, call the servicing center to have it checked out.
Transmission Temperature Warning Light
This may look similar to the car engine temperature warning but just take note of the gear wrapped around the thermometer symbol
When lit up, this gauge cluster icon means that your transmission is overheating due to low transmission fluid, heavy towing, or worn-out transmission parts. Be sure to call your repair shop and have it inspected.
Brake Warning Light
If you’ve seen this symbol, then you most likely have left the handbrake on while driving.
However, if it remains on while the hand brake is down, then there now may be an issue in your car’s braking system. Most commonly, your brake fluid is very low and needs to be refilled. But also be sure to have it inspected by a professional.
Power Steering warning light
Power steering is a godsend technology nowadays, if not, we’d all have bigger triceps turning our cars around. But if you notice the Power Steering gauge cluster icon turn on, you’ll notice that it’ll take a lot more effort to steer the car.
Make sure you get it to a repair shop as prolonged driving while this light is on can cause damage to the power steering.
Safety first! As most of us know, this gauge cluster icon indicates that you need to wear your seatbelt for your safety.
Check engine light
The Check Engine Light is part of your car’s onboard diagnostic system that may light up for many reasons such as a clogged air filter, a loose gas cap, an emissions system fault, or an ignition system fault.
Your car may be drivable but it isn’t ideal to do so, as it can further damage the engine. If possible, have the mechanic go to your location or have your car towed to the repair shop.
Also, note that it may turn red telling you to stop immediately and have the car inspected. Some cars may also display the words “CHECK ENGINE” instead of the icon above.
Low Tire Pressure
Not all cars may have this gauge cluster icon, but if yours does and it lights up, it means that one or more of your tires is low on air. This could create an unsafe driving experience and damage the tire(s) that may result in tire failure.
However, the light could also indicate that your tire(s) is overinflated. So be sure to check your tire pressure and add air on whichever tire is necessary.
Note: You can also check your tire’s ideal pressure by checking on its sidewall or on the decal that’s normally found lower on the driver’s door b-pillar.
Low windshield washer fluid
Pretty straightforward, your windshield washer fluid is low and so be sure to top it up.
Antilock brake system warning
The ABS helps prevent your wheels from locking up when braking hard, this helps you make emergency stops.
The ABS Warning light illuminates briefly to test itself when turning on the ignition. But if this gauge cluster icon remains on while driving, there may be a problem with your anti-lock brake system such as a faulty control unit. Be sure to have it checked as soon as possible with a professional.
Traction Control Indicator
If you see a car that looks like it’s sliding about, then it probably refers to your car’s traction control system (TCS). It helps monitor your car’s stability and steering performance. This helps when driving in either snow or rain.
However, if your TCS light remains on in situations that don’t require it to be on, be sure to check in a service center as it may be due to a faulty wheel speed sensor or failure of the TCS computer.
Traction Control Malfunction
If you see the triangle warning sign with a circular arrow, then it means that your traction control system is malfunctioning due to a damaged sensor. Since your ABS and traction control system shares the same control module, it may also indicate an issue with the ABS.
Vehicle Security Alert
With most modern cars having an anti-theft system, this gauge cluster icon would blink when the security system is engaged and armed.
Do note that if it’s on and the car doesn’t start up, then the car’s immobilization system has activated. But if the icon is on and the car still runs normally, then there may be a fault in the security system.
Service Vehicle Soon
The service vehicle soon icon would mostly indicate some minor issues in the engine or your car could simply need some scheduled servicing. It could also have varied meanings depending on your car’s model.
In other cars, it also may display the words “SERVICE ENGINE SOON” instead of the symbol indicated above.
Glow Plug Indicator
If you run a car with a diesel engine, you may notice this gauge cluster icon that indicates that the engine’s glow plugs are warming up to help the diesel combust while the engine is cold. Be sure to wait until the indicator turns off before starting the engine.
Fuel Filter Warning
Driving a diesel car does need a lot of work as when this gauge cluster icon lights up, it means that the diesel fuel filter is full and needs to be emptied to avoid damaging the engine.
High Beam Indicator
The most recognizable blue gauge cluster icon on your dash, the high beam indicator simply indicates that your high beams are on.
Fog Lights Indicator
Your fog lights are on. If the squiggly line is on the left then it’s your front fog lights, which are more commonly seen. If the squiggly line is on the right, then it’s your rear fog lights, if by chance your car does have one.
Automatic Shift Lock or Engine Start Indicator
This gauge cluster icon simply tells you that you’re trying to shift gears or start your ignition without engaging the brake. The symbol will illuminate to tell you to engage the brake before starting the car or getting it off neutral.
Adaptive Cruise Control indicator
This would mean that you’ve turned on your cruise control. Unless you’re on a large highway maintaining a steady speed, you should probably stick to controlling your car’s speed by yourself.
That’s a lot of information to take in, isn’t it? But we like to make things easy for you here at YugaAuto. Make sure you’re familiar with these common gauge cluster icons so you aren’t caught unaware of your vehicle’s condition or needs. As they say, “take care of your vehicle, and it will take care of you.”
Knowing what your car is telling you based on which gauge cluster icon is lit plays a crucial role in your and your car’s safety, so feel free to bookmark this page as your quick gauge cluster icon cheat sheet. Are there any other icons you think are also important? Do let us know any comments and suggestions you may have! If you also want to be sure of what each icon means or what other icons your car may have, be sure to go over your car’s manual.
Safe driving, everyone!