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Car warning lights 

We have covered this subject before, but due to the current financial crisis that many find themselves in, people are looking to save money where ever possible. It therefore seems prudent to reiterate how important the warning lights are on your car. We all see these lights from time to time but it is amazing how many people just ignore them, only to find that shortly after their car stops, won’t start or just loses all power. This is often due to the lack of maintenance or in some cases ignoring the warning lights.

As cars have become more and more sophisticated the number of possible faults that can arise has grown significantly, along with the number of different warning lights that might flash up on the dashboard, these can be very scary but they need not be so. With a little help and understanding you may be able to save yourself money and avoid potential severe damage to your car if you take notice of the warnings given by it.

If a warning light appears (or fails to extinguish after you’ve started the engine) depending on the light you should either stop as soon as possible or get the error fixed as soon as possible. If you know what the light means and act fast you could save time and money.

Oil pressure warning light

This light, perhaps the most common and well known, it should illuminate when the ignition is switched on and should go out once the engine starts. If the light stays on after starting or illuminates during a journey, stop immediately, switch off the engine and check the engine oil level. Top up straight away if the level is low. If the warning lamp illuminates, even though the oil level is correct, do not start the engine, contact your mechanic or garage immediately. An easy way to do this is to take a photo of your dashboard with the light clearly shown and send it to your mechanic or garage and ask for advice as to whether it is safe to continue your journey with caution or whether the car should be sent to the garage on a grúa.

Battery charge warning light

This light should illuminate when the ignition is switched on and should go out as soon as the engine starts. If it does not illuminate at all, or if it illuminates while driving, your battery is not being charged, so the most likely problem is that there is a fault with your charging system.

This may be due to one of the followings;

* lose battery or starter terminals

* a broken or loose alternator drive belt

* an alternator failure

If the alternator belt is broken, it must be replaced before you restart the engine. The coolant system may rely on this belt and its failure could cause the engine to overheat, in turn causing engine damage. Immediately move the car to a safe location and turn off the engine. Do not restart the engine until you have sought professional assistance.

Brake system warning light

This light will remain illuminated when the handbrake is in use. Illumination after releasing the handbrake may indicate low brake fluid level. You may need to top up the fluid. As brakes wear the fluid level will slowly drop so regular checks are important. If you are not able to check this yourself go to your garage and ask them to check it for you. They will often do this free of charge but it would routinely be done at a service, something to bear in mind.

If the brake fluid is too low and brake pedal travel is distinctly longer than usual, one of the two hydraulic brake circuits may have failed. If the light remains illuminated, even though the brake fluid level is correct, this may indicate a sensor fault. Take your car to a dealer or garage that has fault finding equipment.

Engine warning light

This light illuminates when the ignition is switched on. It should go out as soon as the engine starts. If it illuminates with the engine running, it indicates a malfunction with the engine management system. Have this checked as soon as possible. If the light turns to red or illuminates in conjunction with the STOP light – stop the vehicle and seek assistance.

ABS warning light

When the ignition is switched on, the light illuminates briefly to confirm that the system is operational. If it illuminates when driving, it indicates a fault. Have this checked. Normal braking (without ABS) will generally be maintained and many cars will be safe to drive on, but some will not, if in doubt check with your mechanic or stop driving the car and have it checked.

Brake system and ABS warning lights

If both warning lights illuminate at the same time when driving, stop the vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so. Reduce vehicle speed gradually and immediately move the vehicle to a safe position. Use the brakes with great care. Do not step on the brake pedal abruptly.