As a vehicle owner, putting your key in the ignition and starting your car only to be met with the shine of an illuminated dashboard warning light can be a daunting experience. You may feel a knot in the pit of your stomach when you begin to think about the possibilities of what could be wrong with your vehicle. Many thoughts may cross your mind. How much is this going to cost? How long are you going to be inconvenienced by this? Do you need to add a trip to the auto shop to your already incredibly long to-do list?

Not all dashboard lights will require immediate action, however, there are some that should not be ignored. Leaving these dashboard lights unattended could result in you being stranded on the side of the road and with a mound of costly repair bills. Here are five dashboard lights you don’t want to ignore:

  1. Brake Light- For your safety, the brake light should never become an afterthought. If your brake light is on, you should first check to see if the emergency brake (also known at the hand or parking brake) is on. If it is off, then the light is likely signaling that there is either a problem with the brake hydraulic system or the brake fluid level is low. In either case, your ability to stop safely could be compromised. Don’t risk your safety, or the safety of other motorists and pedestrians, by ignoring this light. Instead, bring your vehicle to the experts at Meridian Automotive right away for a brake inspection and service.
  2. Battery Light-  There are a few ways that the battery light, also called a charging warning light, can be triggered. However, the usual culprit is that the charging system is failing to charge the batter to a voltage higher than 13.5 volts. This could be caused by corroded battery cable terminals or damaged battery plates. It could also signal a problem with the voltage regulator or alternator. Should the light come on while you are driving, your vehicle will continue to run as long as there is still life in the battery. Though once you turn off the engine, there is a good possibility that you will not be able to restart your vehicle. To reduce the strain on your battery, turn off or unplug as many electrical accessories as possible then head on over to us for a battery test, charge, or replacement.
  3. Oil Warning Light-  The oil warning light indicates that your oil pressure or oil level is low. In either case, it is possible for your engine to stop running while you are driving. This could not only damage the engine and several other vehicle components, but could also result in an accident. If the light comes on, check your oil level. If it is low, fill it to its normal operating level to keep the engine lubricated while you drive to Meridian Automotive to have your vehicle inspected.
  4. Coolant Warning Light- If this light is on then your coolant level is low, or the engine is overheating. Allowing an engine to overheat can turn a minor problem into a major one, resulting is serious and costly engine damage. An overheating engine can result in the engine seizing up, cracking, and even stopping while you are driving! If your engine is overheating, pull over and turn off your vehicle and allow it to cool. After it’s cool, bring your vehicle in right away to have that light inspected by one of our automotive experts.
  5. Check Engine Light- This light could indicate several different problems; however, it is usually linked to a problem with the ignition, fuel, or emissions systems. If this light is on, your vehicle is telling you there is something wrong, and you need to get to the root of the problem as soon as possible. Bring your vehicle to Meridian Automotive right away for a check engine light diagnostic test.

One thing many vehicle owners are not aware of is that the dashboard lights are usually color coded, much like traffic lights, so that you can determine their level of importance.

  • Red- Indicates that there is a serious problem and you should not continue to drive the vehicle.
  • Yellow/Orange- indicates something needs service or repair. You can continue to drive, but should do so with caution, and have your vehicle inspected as soon as possible.
  • Green/Blue- indicates a system is on, like the high beams. These are visual reminders and not a cause for alarm.

*To learn more about the different dashboard lights of your specific vehicle make and model, you should refer to your owner’s manual.

When a dashboard light appears on your vehicle, schedule an appointment with Meridian Automotive. We are here to help you with all your auto repair needs. We provide complete automotive repair in Meridian, Idaho, for most cars, light trucks, and SUV’s. For over 20 years we’ve been Meridian’s auto repair experts. Don’t just trust anyone, trust the experts at Meridian Automotive. Call us today (208) 297-5573 or schedule an appointment online.

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