Modern cars are increasingly sophisticated and computerised. They now have a wide range of sensors, which monitor the cars performance and constantly check for problems. The way they tell the driver of any problems is through dashboard indicator lights. As a rule orange lights mean that the problem should be checked at the earliest convenience and red lights indicate a problem that should be checked immediately.
When you turn the key in the ignition it is likely that most of the indicator lights on the dashboard light up and stay lighted for several seconds. This is normal. You only need to worry when the lights stay on or when they come on whilst driving.
The following indicator lights are common in most cars.
Engine Warning or Malfunction Indicator Light - This will usually mean that there is a problem with the engine's management system or the engine's emissions control system. If this light comes on while driving you should have your car checked by the dealer as soon as you can. If you have to continue driving do so slowly and without hard acceleration.
Anti-Lock Braking System Indicator Light - Indicates a fault with the anti-lock braking system. If this light comes on you will still have normal braking ability but without the anti-lock function.
Battery and Charging Light Indicator - If this light comes on then your car battery isn't being charged. This could be caused by a faulty alternator, a battery that has come to the end of its working life (most batteries last up to four or so years) or because the battery terminals need cleaning.
Engine Overheating Light Indicator - If this light comes on it means your engine is overheating. Pull over and call for roadside assistance.
Electric Power Steering Light Indicator - Indicates a problem with the power assisted steering. If this light comes on the steering is likely to feel a lot heavier which will make the car harder to steer.
Parking Brake and Brake System Indicator - This light will remain on until you have released the parking brake. If the light comes on whilst driving then there is a problem with the braking system. Take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible.
Low Oil Pressure Light Indicator - Indicates low oil levels. If this light comes on you should check the oil levels immediately. Driving with insufficient oil levels can cause serious damage to the car's engine.
Fog Light Indicator - This lights shows when the fog lights are on.
Full Beam Light Indicator - This light shows when the headlights are turned to full beam.
Front Airbag Warning Light - amber light informs the driver when a passenger airbag has been switched off manually.
Tyre Pressure Monitor - will show when incorrect tyre pressure is detected.
Car Doors Indicator - will show when one or more car doors, including the boot, are incorrectly closed, or still open.
Seat Belt Reminder - will show when the engine is on but the driver's seat belt isn't fastened.
Glow Plug Warning - used on diesel vehicles, no attempt to start the vehicle must made until the light goes out.
Low Fuel Indicator - will show when the vehicle is low on fuel.