What do dashboard warning lights in my car mean?

What do my dashboard warning lights mean Check Engine
What do my dashboard warning lights mean check engine

The electronic systems in today's cars rely on a series of sensors connected to warning lights and symbols on the dashboard. Read on to see the most common dashboard warning lights and what they mean.

There are two main types of dashboard warning lights: red and orange. A red warning light generally indicates a serious issue with your car. You should act quickly if your dashboard warning light is red – it could be an overheating engine, low engine oil pressure or a braking system problem.

An orange dashboard warning light means the engine management system – the computer that runs the engine – has detected a fault. You may continue to drive a car with an orange dashboard warning light, but you should head to your local service centre for diagnosis and repair as soon as possible.

Related: Getting your car road trip ready

Key points: dashboard warning light symbols
  • A red warning light on the instrument panel indicates a serious car problem or a safety issue and should be checked straightaway
  • The cause of an orange warning light should be checked as soon as you're able
  • Consult the owner’s manual for explanation

What should I do if a dashboard warning light comes in my car?

It’s important to pay attention to car dashboard warning lights because they can help you avoid a car breakdown, keep you safe on the road and potentially save you an expensive repair bill.

If a red or orange warning light appears on your dashboard, don’t ignore it. Instead, pull over somewhere safe and look up what it means in your owner’s manual. If you’re not sure what the problem is, ask your NRMA mobile mechanic or vehicle manufacturer for advice.

If a light momentarily illuminates then disappears, there may not be a problem, but it is a good idea to get it checked out by our mobile mechanics for peace of mind.

What are the most common car dashboard warning lights?


  1. Fog light (front)

  2. Power steering warning light

  3. Fog light (rear)

  4. Washer fluid low

  5. Brake pad warning

  6. Cruise control on

  7. Direction indicators

  8. Rain and light sensor

  9. Winter mode

  10. Information indicator

  11. Glow plug/diesel pre-heat warning

  12. Frost warning

  13. Ignition switch warning

  14. Key not in vehicle

  15. Key fob battery low

  16. Distance warning

  17. Press clutch pedal

  18. Press brake pedal

  19. Steering lock warning

  20. Main beam headlights

  21. Tyre pressure low

  22. Sidelight information

  23. Exterior light fault

  24. Brake lights warning

  25. Diesel particulate filter warning

  26. Trailer tow hitch warning

  27. Air suspension warning

  28. Lane departure warning

  29. Catalytic converter warning

  30. Seat belt not on

  31. Parking brake light

  32. Battery/alternator warning

  33. Parking assist

  34. Service required

  35. Adaptive lighting

  36. Headlight range control

  37. Rear spoiler warning

  38. Convertible roof warning

  39. Airbag warning

  40. Handbrake warning

  41. Water in filter

  42. Airbag deactivated

  43. Fault problem

  44. Dipped beam headlights

  45. Dirty air filter

  46. Eco driving indicator

  47. Hill descent control

  48. Temperature warning

  49. ABS warning

  50. Fuel filter warning

  51. Door open

  52. Bonnet open

  53. Low fuel

  54. Automatic gearbox warning

  55. Speed limiter

  56. Suspension dampers

  57. Oil pressure low

  58. Windscreen defrost

  59. Boot open

  60. Stability control off

  61. Rain sensor

  62. Engine/emissions warning

  63. Rear window defrost

  64. Auto windscreen wiping

Stay safe on the roads and catch any issues as soon as possible, if you are unsure it's always safer to ask a professional.

How do I reset my dashboard warning lights?

While DIY engine code scanners are available, simply removing persistent dashboard warning lights only treats the symptom and not the cause.

Your car has been built with sensors to identify faults that range from mild to potentially catastrophic, so if you find a dashboard warning light keeps returning, it is likely indicative of a larger problem.

Our mobile mechanics can repair electrical systems and clear engine codes on most makes, including Toyota and Mazda dashboard warning lights.

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