Dashboard Warning Lights

You’ll no doubt have noticed every time your start your car, or indeed a rental car that all of the lights on the dash illuminate and then quickly go out, this is all part of the start-up procedure and standard electrical and systems checks the car will do each time it is started. It’s usually quite rare to see any of these lights beyond the start-up, however would you know what any of these lights actually mean should they come on? Most of them are advisory and some will require your immediate attention, whilst some you may have more time to address. Either way, it’s wise to understand what these dashboard warning lights mean and what actions you need to take. This is even more important in a rental car as the lights may differ from your own car and we advise that you contact the rental agent for advice should your rental car display any of the dash warning lights.

*Whilst we’ve gone to every effort to cover the most common dash lights and their standardised format, you should check the owners manual for confirmation or if you unsure as not all manufacturers use the same lights / symbols and some may have additional lights for specific purposes. Not all cars will have all the lights displayed here.

Dash Warning Light Colors

It’s reasonable to assume that the color of the dash light will give you some indication as to the severity or urgency of the information provided. In general, a red dash light indicates a warning and something that requires you attention, an orange / amber light suggests an advisory issue that you should be aware of but not necessarily take immediate action and a white / blue / green light is most often simply for information / confirming an action / function.

  • WARNING Dash Lights – These are generally red in color
  • ADVISORY Dash Lights – These are generally amber in color
  • INFORMATION Dash Lights – These are general white / blue / green in color

Main Beam

Indicates that the vehicles main beam is on

Advice

Only use full / main beam lights when required taking care not to dazzle oncoming traffic.

Severity

4/10

Off

Indicates function is off

Advice

Check relevant function is no longer required.

Severity

2/10

Air Flow Upper

Indicates direction of airflow inside the vehicle, upper airflow blows air from upper air vents towards body and face

Advice

Redirect airflow as required.

Severity

1/10

Power Limitation Indicator

Indicates that electric power is limited, only found on electric / hybrid vehicles

Advice

If warning light shows unexpectedly, schedule maintenance to have the electric / hybrid system inspected.

Severity

3/10

Shift light

Indicates the recommended gear shift to optimise fuel economy

Advice

Shift gear either up or down as directed where appropriate / conditions permit.

Severity

2/10

Fog Light

Indicates the vehicle fog lights are on

Advice

Ensure fog lights are switched off when conditions improve as fog-lights can dazzle other road users.

Severity

3/10

ABS Warning

Indicates a fault with the vehicles ABS (anti-lock braking system)

Advice

Stop the vehicle when safe to do so and seek assistance / diagnosis, the ABS system is a vital safety feature on the vehicle.

Severity

9/10

Low Fuel

Indicates low fuel.

Advice

Visit your nearest petrol station and re-fuel. The vehicle range on low fuel ranges from 20-80 km typically.

Severity

4/10

Centre Differential Lockn

Indicates center differential lock (or 4Hi/Lo) indicator

Advice

No actions required.

Severity

0/10

Parking Sensor

Indicates the parking sensor (front or rear) is in operation

Advice

Take note of parking sensor frequency to avoid collision when parking / reversing. A solid tone means the proximity to an external object is critical.

Severity

2/10

TPMS

Indicates a change in tyre pressure has been detected by the TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring system)

Advice

Stop the vehicle when safe to do so and check tyre pressures or for signs of puncture / foreign object in tyre. Fit spare / deploy tyre repair system if confident to do so or seek assitance.

Severity

7/10

Rear Differential Lockn

Indicates rear differential lock indicator

Advice

No actions required.

Severity

0/10

Start / Stop

Indicates the vehicles automatic start / stop system is in operation

Advice

No action required, continue to drive as normal and the engine will start and stop as required to reduce emissions.

Severity

1/10

Cruise Control

Indicates the cruise control is in operation.

Advice

No action required, cruise control will automatically deactivate when the throttle / brake / clutch is engaged.

Severity

1/10

Rear Differential Lockn

Indicates rear differential lock indicator

Advice

No actions required.

Severity

0/10

Differential Lock

Indicates differential lock indicator

Advice

No actions required.

Severity

0/10

Washer Fluid

Indicates that the vehicle is low on screen wash fluid.

Advice

Top up screen wash as soon as possible to maintain ability to keep windscreen clear.

Severity

4/10

Engine Check

Indicates fault with engine.n

Advice

Stop the vehicle when safe to do so and seek assistance / diagnosis.n

Severity

8/10