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What Do Those Lights on Your Dashboard Mean?

It’s happened to all of us. You’re running late for work and you still have to drop the kids off at school on the way to the office. You manage to herd everyone into the car, but when you turn the key in the ignition, an unfamiliar light shines back at you from the dashboard. This is your car’s way of warning you that something isn’t quite right, but finding out exactly what’s wrong can be a much more complicated process. Having a basic understanding of the different dashboard lights and what they mean will make moments like this less stressful and help you figure out what to do next.

Here’s an introduction to some of the more common lights that you’re likely to encounter in a newer vehicle.


The Brake Light

This is probably the light you’ll see illuminated on your dashboard most frequently. That’s because it has two purposes: The first is to let you know when your emergency brake is engaged. The emergency brake is used to keep your vehicle stationary when parked or to make an emergency stop if your primary brakes fail. If your brake light is illuminated, the first thing you should do is check your emergency brake. The other situations that can cause the brake light to activate are when your brake pads are worn down or your brake fluid is running low.

The Tire Light

This light wasn’t widely used until the late 2000’s, so you might not find it on older vehicles. The tire light is connected to pressure sensors inside of the vehicle’s tires, and is programmed to alert the driver if tire pressure is too low or too high. Having over or under-inflated tires can lead to an abnormal wear and will also affect your vehicle’s fuel economy, so it’s important to maintain a safe level of inflation at all times.

The Engine Light

Nothing causes as much confusion among car-owners like a glowing engine light. This light can signal the need for major repairs, or it can be an indication of something as harmless and inexpensive as a warn-out spark plug. What causes the light to activate is an interruption in the electrical circuit that runs through a number of parts in the vehicle, including some smaller components such as air filters and spark plugs. So, if your engine light does turn on there’s no need to panic. But there is a very good reason to take your vehicle to the nearest BCAA Auto Service Centre so our Red Seal Certified technicians can run a diagnostic and tell you exactly what’s causing the problem.

Now that you have an overview of the most common dashboard lights, you’ll have a better idea of what’s going on the next time you see one of these lights turn on in your vehicle. Once you’ve established what the problem might be, it’s always best to consult a Red Seal Certified Technician like those at our BCAA Auto Service Centres . Best of all, BCAA Auto Service Technicians are equipped to scan the on-board computer on all makes and models of vehicles so they can see exactly which components need to be repaired or replaced to get you back on the road with a dashboard free of warning lights.

BCAA Auto Service Centres are currently open for business in Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon, Nanaimo and South Surrey. Plus, our new Victoria Service Centre is now open! Book an appointment today.