Alderwood Auto Repair & Service

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Malfunctioning Indicator Light Diagnosis

Cars and trucks have a number of systems that all work together to make the car or truck start, stop, and steer. These systems are composed of interactions between mechanical and electrical parts working together to accomplish the purpose of the system.

Vehicle Indicator Lights Problem Diagnosis

Many vehicle systems have indicator lights on the dash that can tell you how the system is operating, if it needs service soon, or if immediate attention is required. In general, a green or blue light means that the system is operating as expected. An orange or yellow light means that the car will need service soon, and a red or flashing light means that the car requires immediate attention.

As you work to decipher the lights and service your vehicle appropriately, here are some things to remember:

1. The symbols on your dashboard may vary slightly from the ones on our list. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will provide an accurate description.

2. Many dashboard lights will shine briefly when you first turn your car and it checks the systems. If the lights turn off within a few seconds, everything is fine.

Oil Pressure Warning Light

This signals that there is an issue with your car’s oil pressure system. It’s possible that it’s a faulty pressure sensor. It’s also possible that you are low on oil or that the engine is not getting enough oil pressure to lubricate the moving parts. Poor engine lubrication can cause major engine damage, so this is an important warning!

Turn off the vehicle as soon as you safely can, and check the oil level using the oil dipstick. Look for obvious oil leaks. If the light goes off when you add oil and the engine seems to be running smoothly, go ahead and drive it to Alderwood Auto Repair. If the oil level is okay and the engine is running smoothly, your oil pressure sensor may be faulty. If the Oil Pressure Light does not go off, then have the car towed to a mechanic for assessment.

Engine Temperature Warning Light

If you see this symbol of water with a thermometer in it, it means that your engine is overheating. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Try turning off the A/C and turning the heater on to redistribute heat to the passenger compartment. If that doesn’t work after a couple of minutes, pull over as soon as it is safe and turn off the engine. Allow the engine to cool for at least 15 minutes, and do not pop the hood! Opening the hood while the engine is hot could result in burns/injuries from spewing steam.

While you wait for the car to cool down, you should figure out a plan for what to do next. It’s a good time to call a roadside assistance service to get your coolant topped off or to get a tow to a nearby repair shop.

Traction Control Warning Light

This symbol of a car on a slippery road indicates that your vehicle’s traction control system is activated. The traction control system determines if one wheel is spinning faster than the others. If one wheel is slipping, it applies the brakes until the car regains traction. This is most helpful if you’re driving in rain or snow. If you see this symbol, be aware of slippery conditions.

Anti-Lock Braking System Warning Light

When you brake hard, the ABS pulses the brakes to prevent your wheels from locking. If the ABS warning light is illuminated, it means that something is wrong with the system. This is such an important safety feature, so have a mechanic diagnose and repair the problem as soon as possible.

Traction Control Malfunction Warning Light

This light tells you that your car’s traction control system might be malfunctioning. In some cars, this control module operates the ABS as well as the traction control system. So it can signal problems with your ABS. While this kind or problem won’t impact your everyday driving, you should get it checked soon to make sure your vehicle will operate safely in wet and slippery conditions.

Check Engine Warning Light

If this light comes on, but you haven’t noticed a change in the way the car drives and you don’t notice any unusual sounds or smells, you can continue driving a moderate distance. If the check engine light is red and/or flashing, you should stop driving immediately! In most cases this indicates that you have a major problem that could cause serious damage to your engine if you ignore it. Either way, make sure to get the light checked and the problem repaired as soon as possible.

Battery Alert Warning Light

This light, often shaped like a little battery, signals that something is wrong with the vehicle’s charging system. There are many possibilities including a loose or damaged battery cable, a bad alternator, or some other electrical fault. You may notice your clock light fading or your headlights dimming. In some cases, your car may not start at all. The experts at Alderwood Auto Repair can diagnose any battery-related or electrical issues, and offer you the repairs you need. Ignoring this may result in a failure of the car to start.

Supplemental Restraint System Warning Light

The light shaped like a person being restrained by a seat-belt and airbag signals that something is wrong with one of your airbags or the entire airbag system. This is an important safety system designed to keep you safe during accidents. It’s important to make sure they are working properly, so get these warning lights diagnosed as soon as you can.

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