Guide to Dashboard Warning Lights: What Drivers Need to Know

Dashboard warning lights are crucial indicators that alert drivers to potential issues within their motor vehicle. These lights provide early warnings about problems that could affect the car’s performance, safety, and reliability. Ignoring these signals can lead to serious mechanical failures and costly repairs.

They are important because they help drivers take timely action to prevent breakdowns and ensure their vehicle operates efficiently. Paying attention to these lights can save money by addressing minor issues before they escalate into major problems. Drivers need to pay attention to these indicators to maintain the longevity of their vehicle and ensure their safety on the road.

Dashboard Warning Lights explained

Understanding Dashboard Warning Lights

Dashboard warning lights refer to the various indicators on a vehicle’s dashboard that signal potential issues or status updates. These lights, though often ignored by drivers in the Philippines, are essential for maintaining vehicle health and safety. They’re quite important because they provide early warnings about problems that could affect the car’s performance and reliability.

Knowing what your car’s dashboard warning lights mean can help you prevent breakdowns and save money by spotting problems early. Much like the traffic lights on the road, these lights fall into three categories: red, yellow, and green. Understanding these categories helps drivers respond appropriately to ensure their vehicle’s longevity and safety. 

1. Red Warning Lights: Immediate action required. Stop the car as soon as it’s safe.

2. Yellow Warning Lights: Action required soon.

3. Green Warning Lights: Informational only, no immediate action needed.

Key Dashboard Warning Lights and What They Mean

Here are some of the most important dashboard lights that you need to pay attention to:

1. Brake System Light

What it means: If this light is on, you may have left the handbrake on. If it stays lit after releasing the handbrake, check your brake fluid level. Persistent illumination may indicate a serious brake system issue that needs professional attention.

2. Engine Coolant Light

What it means: This indicates low coolant levels. Check the coolant tank gauge and top up if necessary. Continuing to drive with low coolant can cause the engine to overheat.

3. Oil Warning Light

What it means: This light signals high oil temperature or low oil level/pressure. Stop driving, turn off the engine, and check the oil level once the engine cools. If the light stays on after adding oil, visit a mechanic.

4. Power Steering Light

What it means: Indicates a problem with the power steering system, which can make steering difficult. Get this checked by a mechanic as soon as possible.

5. Airbag and Seatbelt System Light

What it means: This light means your airbag may not deploy in an accident. It’s crucial to get this checked immediately to ensure your safety.

6. Vehicle Charging System Light

What it means: Signals an issue with the battery or alternator. Driving with this light on can lead to a dead battery, so get it checked promptly.

7. Steering Lock Light

What it means: Normally on when the ignition is off and the lock is engaged. If it appears at other times, get your car checked.

8. Ignition Lock Light

What it means: Could indicate a problem with the ignition switch or key verification. If this light comes on while driving, consult a mechanic.

9. Seat Belt Buckles Light

What it means: Indicates a passenger hasn’t fastened their seatbelt. Ensure all passengers are buckled up.

10. Doors Light

What it means: One or more doors, including the boot, are not closed properly. Check all doors.

11. Bonnet Light

What it means: The bonnet is not closed properly. Ensure it’s securely shut before driving.

12. Boot Light

What it means: The boot is not closed properly. Secure it before driving.

The Importance of Dashboard Lights

Dashboard lights are your car’s way of communicating issues. Ignoring them can lead to severe problems and compromise your safety. Distinguishing between warning lights and indicators alert you to potential issues that need immediate or future attention, allowing you to respond appropriately

  • Early Problem Detection: Dashboard lights provide early warnings about potential issues, allowing you to address minor problems before they escalate into major repairs.
  • Safety Assurance: Certain lights, like the brake system or airbag warning lights, indicate critical safety concerns that need immediate attention to prevent accidents or breakdowns.
  • Cost Savings: By identifying and resolving issues promptly, you can avoid costly repairs and extend the life of your vehicle.
  • Performance Maintenance: Keeping an eye on dashboard indicators helps ensure your car runs smoothly and efficiently, maintaining optimal performance.
  • Compliance with Maintenance Schedules: Some lights remind you of routine maintenance tasks, such as oil changes, which are vital for the longevity of your car.

Do You Need a Mechanic for Every Dashboard Light?

Not all dashboard lights mean an immediate trip to the mechanic. Your vehicle’s owner manual can help you determine if you need professional assistance. For some lights, like the tire pressure warning, you can make quick fixes yourself. However, for lights like the oil pressure or engine coolant warning, it’s best to consult a mechanic.

When to Consult a Mechanic

While the dashboard lights require your attention, not every dashboard light translates to the need to visit or consult a mechanic. Some just require a quick check of the vehicle manual and a refill. Learn when a dashboard light requires the expertise of a mechanic by watching out for these signs:

  • Persistent Warning Light: If a warning light stays on after starting your vehicle, get it checked.
  • Sudden Loss of Power: A significant change in performance indicates a potential issue that needs attention.
  • Multiple Warning Lights: This suggests a serious problem that requires immediate inspection.

Video: Basic Indicator—Dashboard Warning Lights

For more information on the dashboard lights and what they are for, you may check out this video from The Engineers Post.


Dashboard warning lights are important for vehicle maintenance and safety. Understanding what each light means and when to take action can help you keep your car running smoothly. Whether you’re a new driver or a seasoned one, knowing what these lights mean and running regular comprehensive vehicle inspections and maintenance can save you from costly repairs and ensure a safer driving experience. 

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