Those Little Lit-Up Symbols On Your Dashboard? They’re Big Red Flags

symbols on your dashboardWhen you start your car, it is perfectly normal for symbols or messages to light up momentarily on your dashboard. But if those same symbols or messages come on while the car is running, you may have a problem. 

So what do those warning lights mean, and what should you do if you see one? Below is a simple guide to help you understand and deal with each of the symbols on your dashboard.

  • Check engine light: This is normally an orange light with the words “Service Engine Soon” or something similar. It usually indicates a problem in the exhaust system, which can be caused by combustion problems in the engine. You should do what it says — service the engine soon — but unless it is flashing, there is no need to pull off the road immediately.
  • Temperature light: This is either a thermometer symbol or the word “Temp.” It indicates that your engine is overheating. As soon as possible, pull off the road and shut off the engine. It will take quite a while for the engine to cool off enough to safely check the coolant levels. If the coolant is low, you can usually add water and drive to the nearest shop before it overheats again.
  • Oil pressure light: This looks like a dripping oil can or the word “Oil.” It means that your oil pressure is low. You should pull over and shut off the engine as soon as safely possible; driving with low oil pressure can severely damage the engine.
  • Alternator light: This looks like a car battery with a “+” and “-” sign, or the word “Alt” or “Gen.” It comes on when the alternator stops charging the battery. Do not shut off your car; you may not be able to start it again. Instead, turn off everything electrical and keep driving until you reach the nearest service station.

In some cases, these symbols on your dashboard may indicate that you should start searching for a new car. When that time comes, contact the lease transfer experts at Swapalease. We’ll be happy to help.

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