What are warning lights?

Warning lights can be found on your dashboard alongside the fuel gauge and speedometer. If your car is in proper working order, these lights should blink on for a few seconds when starting the ignition and then quickly disappear.
If one or more lights stay on after starting your car, you need to have your car inspected by a mechanic.
Conversely, if you notice any of them don’t up at all upon starting your car, you may have a blown fuse, broken dash light bulb, or a bigger electrical issue that also requires professional attention.

Different types of warning lights

Some of the warning lights you can expect to see with normal car use include:
  • The ABS warning light, which shows the letters “ABS” and indicates your anti-lock brake system is malfunctioning
  • The brake system warning light, which appears as an exclamation point with a circle around it. It means that your brake system is at risk of malfunctioning
  • The airbag failure light, which shows the letters “SRS,” the word “airbag,” or an airbag symbol. It indicates that your airbags are out of order and may not deploy in a collision
  • The check engine/service engine soon light, which looks like an engine symbol or reads “check engine.” It indicates that your engine needs immediate attention
  • The tire pressure warning light, which is an exclamation point surrounded by a horseshoe-like shape or the letters “TPMS” (tire pressure monitoring system). This means that the pressure in one or more tires is 25% or more below recommended pressure

What can you expect from a warning light is on inspection service?

If you see a warning light and know what it means, you may be able to fix the issue yourself: for instance, by tightening the gas cap, refilling the windshield wiper fluid, or getting an oil change.
Other warning lights, however, may require an inspection from a mechanic to determine the scope of the problem and identify necessary repairs. In a warning light inspection, the mechanic may:
  • Use a code reader to identify the error code sent by your car’s computer
  • Visually assess the malfunctioning components indicated by the warning light
  • Test drive the vehicle

How important is a warning light is on inspection?

Just like you wouldn’t ignore a sudden new ache or pain in your body, you shouldn’t ignore what seems like even a small alert from your car, such as a tiny symbol lit up on your dashboard.
For anything that you can’t confidently fix yourself, it’s in your best interest to take your car in for an inspection as soon as you notice a warning light is on.

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