Dashboard lights are nothing new, but the messages are. The following list of car warning lights are the most common lights used by auto manufacturers. Not all warning lights are universal, some have different meanings. Always refer to your owner’s manual when you’re not 100% sure what the light indicates.
Many warning lights indicate that a fault has occurred inside the vehicle’s system, but it doesn’t pinpoint the item or system that has failed. In these cases, a code reader or scan tool can help determine the part that needs to be replaced. If an indicator light on your dash is on, visit your local AutoZone store to get the best products and information to help keep your vehicle running in top condition.
Click a vehicle warning light to see more detailed information.
Diesel fuel vehicles only:
Check Engine or Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL):
Indicates that oil life has expired. This is monitored by the ECM; the interval can be mileage or a combination of readings taken by the ECM. The reset procedure is listed in the owner’s manual. Some vehicles require the use of special tools to reset the light.
Typically indicates a lighting or other electrical problem that is controlled by the BCM (body control module). Check all lights (headlights, turn signals, brake lights, and hazard lights). This symbol may also be used to warn driver of a traction control problem, or a communication problem between modules.
Indicates the tire pressure monitoring system has found a tire with low air pressure or there may be a TPMS sensor malfunction. Check tire pressure. Some vehicles will allow manual reset of TPMS warning light and others will require professional diagnosis. Refer to owner’s manual.
Indicates one of three possible conditions: parking brake is on; problem with the braking system/brake fluid is low, or ABS problem. Check brake fluid and make sure the parking brake is fully released. If the problem is in the ABS system, it may need a professional diagnosis.
Indicates Engine Computer has limited engine power output. The ECM has many levels of reduced power depending on what component has failed in its control system. Usually requires diagnosis with a professional scan tool.
If the symbol lights momentarily it may mean that the ignition switch is locked and will need the proper transponder-equipped key to re-start. If the symbol is visible when the vehicle is on, then it typically indicates a malfunction in the security system.
If this light stays illuminated after starting, it indicates that the vehicle has found a fault in the airbag system and the computer has set a code. Professional repair of the supplemental restraint system is highly recommended.
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Your Check Engine Light may be indicating a simple problem that’s easy to fix – such as a loose gas cap. Or, it could be a warning of a more serious problem that could damage your engine components. Finding out why your light is on now can save you money and trouble down the road.