Simple Car Dashboard Lights / Check Engine Light Guide
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Simple Car Dashboard Lights / Check Engine Light Guide

[Experts: Click here to skip to the end for expert mechanic advice]

We have all been there. Getting ready for another day at work with everything ready to go and the day planned out.

You’re in your car, key in the ignition but as soon as you turn on the car, a light catches your eye. A new light that usually turns off immediately after a few seconds suddenly stays ON.

You ask yourself: Is this something serious or is it just some glitch in the system that will sort itself out?

So you do what most people do. You continue on with your day as if nothing had changed. Those initial plans are still on and you are on your way.

As you continue to drive, though, your car begins to sputter and eventually shuts off. You start to smell and see white smoke billowing from under the engine. Your heart sinks and that possibility of it being serious has become reality.

Your car is in trouble…

You are in trouble and now so is your wallet.

Maybe if you would have just taken a minute to think about what that light had meant before deciding to ignore it this embarrassing situation could have been avoided.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Be prepared and get educated on what different dashboard warning lights mean so that when you see one, you are both ready and able to make a smart decision. It will only take you a few minutes.

Share this infographic so that your friend’s and family can save themselves a very expensive headache as well.

simple to understand check engine lights guide


transmission temp

This light indicates that the transmission is at a higher temperature or the transmission fluid is running too hot. Check transmission fluid and engine coolant levels first.

change engine oil

Light that is obviously telling you that your oil needs changing. This is monitored by your car’s ECM (computer) and can be reset but should be changed soon after coming on. It is not an immediate emergency issue.

service vehicle

Usually, this light indicates an electrical problem. Check your lights first when this light comes on. You may a traction control or communication issue if nothing is wrong with the electrical or lighting.

gas cap

This is your check gas cap light which means the cap is not tightened fully or is missing. Check engine light will eventually turn on if this is not fixed.

cruise control

This light indicates that your cruise control is turned on.

esp fault

This light shows that there is a problem with your vehicle’s traction/anti-skid control and/or your electronic stability system.

traction control

This light turns on when your car’s traction control or electronic stability system is in use. Turns on mostly in slippery conditions.

door ajar

This light shows that there is a door or trunk/hood that is open or not completely closed. This can drain your battery if not resolved and the car is turned off.

washer fluid

This light means that your washer fluid is low or out. Just refill your washer fluid and you are good to go. Your cap will have this same symbol on it.


This light turns on when you are using your fog lights.

reduced power

This light turns on when your engine is losing power. Your Engines computer (ECM) has limited power levels and depending on what is failing will depend on how much power the engine can output.

lamp out

This light turns on when you have some exterior light that is not turning on.

glow plug light

This light indicates that your diesel vehicle’s engine glow plugs are warming up and the engine should not be started until the light is off.

dpf light

This light turns on for diesel vehicles and means the diesel exhaust particulate filter (DPF) needs to be serviced and has failed.

def fluid

This light turns on when your diesel vehicle’s exhaust fluid is low.

For those that are already aware of what the dashboard lights mean, give the following image a share and get a few laughs from your other car friends.

funny dashboard lights


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