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dashboard warning lights

Don't panic – if a light comes on, check it out

What they mean and what you need to do

The warning lights on your dashboard are usually the first sign that something’s not right. If one comes on while you’re driving, stop somewhere safe as soon as possible.

Red warning lights need immediate attention, while others allow you to drive on and get to a garage so the problem can be checked out by a professional

Some lights are found on all vehicles, others may be specific to your model. So it’s a good idea to look in your handbook and make sure you’re familiar with what each one means. The AA app also has helpful information and advice on the different warning lights.

Dashboard warning lights
Oil

  

Oil pressure warning light

What should I watch out for?
Your oil pressure light coming on while you’re driving, or not going out once you’ve started your engine.

What should I do?

  • Stop in the nearest safe place as soon as you can and switch off your engine
  • Look in your handbook
  • Check your engine oil level
  • If the level’s low, top up your oil straight away
  • Call us on 0800 88 77 66 or ring a garage

If the warning light comes on even when the oil level is correct, give us a call straight away or ring a garage. Do not restart your engine.

  

Battery

 

 

 

Battery charge warning light

What should I watch out for?
Your battery charge light not coming on at all, or coming on while you’re driving. It could mean you’ve got one of three problems:

  • A slack battery or starter terminal
  • An alternator failure
  • A broken or loose alternator drive belt

What should I do?

A broken drive belt is a serious problem.  Park up straight away in the nearest safe spot and switch off your engine.

Call us on 0800 88 77 66 or ring a garage as soon as possible. Do not restart your engine.

  

Brakes

 

 

 

Brake system warning light

What should I watch out for?
Your brake system warning light coming on once you’ve released the handbrake. This means your brake fluid level might be low.

What should I do?

  • Park up in a safe spot
  • Check your vehicle’s handbook if you don’t know how to check the brake fluid level
  • If it’s very low, you’ll need to get it topped up to the MAX mark before driving on

If the light’s still on, even though the brake fluid level is correct, you may have a sensor fault. Take your vehicle to a dealer or garage as soon as possible.

Remember – it’s a good idea to check your brake fluid level every few weeks to make sure you’re not leaking.

If you’re having to press your brake pedal further than usual, one of your hydraulic brake circuits might have failed. This is a serious problem. Pull over straight away and call for help on 0800 88 77 66.

 

Deisel particle filter

 

 

 

Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) partially blocked

What should I watch out for?
Your DPF light coming on is usually nothing to worry about, but you mustn’t ignore it. DPFs catch bits of soot in your exhaust, and like the filter in your hoover, they need emptying regularly.

Your vehicle usually empties your DPF automatically on long journeys when the exhaust is hot. But if your journey’s a bit stop-start, this emptying process might not happen and the warning light will come on.

What should I do?
You should be able to clear the blockage by driving for around 10 minutes at over 40mph. Your vehicle handbook may have more specific advice.

If the light doesn’t disappear, pull over and give us a call on 0800 88 77 66 or ring a garage straight away.

More about Diesel Particulate Filters

 

 Engine management

 

Engine warning light

What should I watch out for?
Your engine warning light coming on, or flashing on and off as you’re driving.

What should I do?

If the light is flashing:

  • Slow down until the light stops flashing
  • If the light won’t stop flashing, stop in a safe place and turn off the engine
  • Call us on 0800 88 77 66 or ring a garage as soon as possible.

If the light is on continuously, try resetting your engine management system by:

  • Stopping your vehicle if it’s safe to do so
  • Switching off your engine and waiting for two minutes
  • Restarting your engine

Even if your engine warning light’s on, your vehicle should be safe to drive, as long as there are no other issues with your engine.

You’ll still need to get your vehicle checked at a dealer or garage as soon as possible, to avoid damaging your catalytic converter.

 

Abs brakes

 

 

 

ABS warning light

What should I watch out for?
Your ABS (anti-lock braking system) warning light coming on while you’re driving.

What should I do?
Get your ABS checked as soon as you can. You should be safe to drive on and brake normally without ABS, but this isn’t true for every vehicle. Make sure you check your handbook to be on the safe side.

 

Brakes

Abs brakes

 

 

 

Brake system and ABS warning lights

What should I watch out for?
Both your brake and ABS lights coming on at the same time.

What should I do?

  • Stop as soon as it’s safe to do so
  • Use your brakes very carefully
  • Reduce your speed gradually
  • Do not press the brake pedal suddenly

Once you’ve stopped in a safe place, call us on 0800 88 77 66 or ring a garage as soon as you can.

 

Fuel filter trap

 

 

 

Fuel filter water trap (diesel engines)

What should I watch out for?
If this light comes on while you’re driving, water has been detected in your fuel filter.

What should I do?
Usually you can drive on without any problems. But you’ll need to get the water in your fuel filter drained off as soon as possible.

If you’ve just refuelled your vehicle, pull over and switch off your engine straight away. Your fuel might have been contaminated and that could damage your injection system. Call us on 0800 88 77 66 or ring a garage as soon as you can. 

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