Car Dashboard Warning Light Symbols & Indicators (Meanings)

Learn the meaning of dashboard warning symbols and indicators on your car. Determine if these symbols indicate a minor or major problem with your vehicle

Car Dashboard Symbols

We all know that feeling when we see a warning light flicker on our car dashboard. We’re not sure what it means, and we quickly search for the manual to try and interpret what the light is trying to tell us.

In this blog post, we’ll go over the top 90 most common warning lights and their meanings so that you’ll be better informed the next time one pops up on your dashboard. By being aware of these lights, you can avoid costly repairs down the road.

Most Common Warning Lights & Symbols

There are some warning light symbols that are more common than others. Some are specific to specific car brands, while others will be seen on most car models on the market. We start by showing you the most common symbols that can be seen on most cars.

What you should know is that in general when it comes to cars, a red warning light means that there is danger and it should be checked immediately, while a yellow warning light is a warning and should be checked as soon as possible. Normally, most indicators should be on for 3-5 seconds after you turn on the ignition, but if it stays on while the engine is running, there is probably something wrong and needs to be fixed.

Check Engine Light

Check Engine Light

A Check Engine light indicates an issue with the engine or the emissions. It can be shown either as an engine symbol or a plain text with “Check Engine”. Read More

Anti-Lock Braking System

Anti-lock Braking System

An ABS light indicates there is an issue with your brake system or Anti-lock braking system (ABS). Read more

Airbag Indicator

Airbag Indicator

An airbag symbol indicates there is an issue with the airbag system. The airbags will not deploy in an accident with the light on. Read more

Oil Level Warning Light

Oil Level Warning Light

A yellow oil level warning light indicates a low engine oil level. The oil level should be checked as soon as possible.

Oil Pressure Warning Light

Oil Pressure Warning

A red oil pressure warning light indicates low oil pressure in the engine. Your engine should be switched off immediately to avoid damage. Read more

Battery Charge Warning Light

Battery Charge Warning

A battery symbol indicates that the generator is not charging the battery properly and that your engine is at risk of shutting down due to low battery capacity. Read more

Coolant Temperature Warning Light

Coolant Temperature Warning Light

An engine temperature warning light indicates that the engine coolant temperature is high and that the engine should be turned off immediately to avoid further damage. Read more

Tire Pressure Warning Light

Tire Pressure Warning Light

A tire pressure warning symbol indicates low air pressure in one or more tires. It can also be caused by a faulty or uncalibrated tire pressure sensor. Read more

Traction Control/Esp Light

Traction Control/ESP Light

An ESP or Traction control warning symbol indicates an issue with the traction control system. Your traction control system will not work when the light is on – Danger. Read More

Service Engine Soon

Service Engine Soon

A Service Engine Soon message indicates minor trouble with the engine or low fluid levels. Read more

Low Washer Fluid Light

Low Washer Fluid Light

A washer fluid symbol indicates the washer fluid level is low or an incorrect measuring system.

Automatic Shift Lock Symbol

Automatic Shift Lock Symbol

A shift lock symbol indicates the brake pedal is not pressed and the car will not start, and the shifter won’t move out of Park.

Engine & Emission Symbols

Engine and emission symbols include everything from mechanical damages to electrical issues related to the emission system.

Reduced Engine Power

Reduced Engine Power

A Reduced engine power warning light indicates there is an issue with the engine and the power is reduced to protect the engine. Read more

Lambda Warning Light

Lambda Warning Light

A lambda warning light indicates there is an issue with the air-fuel mixture or an issue with the oxygen sensors. This light is more common in older car models

Low Coolant Indicator

Low Coolant Indicator

A low coolant warning light indicates there is a low coolant level in the coolant reservoir or an issue with the coolant level sensor.

Glow Plug Indicator

Glow Plug Indicator (Diesel)

A glow plug symbol indicates there is an issue with the glow plugs or the glow plug control system.

Fuel Filter Level Warning

Fuel Filter Level Warning

A fuel filter level warning light indicates the water-trap in the fuel level is full and needs to be emptied

Power Steering Level Symbol

Power Steering Level Symbol

A power steering level warning light indicates the power steering fluid level is low or an issue with the level sensor

Electronic Throttle Control Light

Electronic Throttle Control Light

An electronic throttle control warning light (ETC) indicates there is an issue with the engine’s electronic throttle body or the system

Particle Filter Warning

Particle Filter Warning (Diesel)

A particle filter warning light indicates there is an issue with the particle filter system, or the particle filter is full and needs regeneration or replacement

Low Fuel Level

Low Fuel Level

A low fuel level symbol indicates the fuel tank level is low or there is an issue with the fuel level measuring system.

Catalytic Converter Warning

Catalytic Converter Warning

A catalytic converter warning light indicates there is an issue with the catalytic converter control system or the catalytic converter is damaged.

Master Warning Light

Master Warning Light

A master warning light normally shows up together with another warning light and indicates there is an issue with your car

Blinking Engine Light

Blinking Engine Light

A blinking or flashing engine light indicates there is an issue with your engine ongoing right now. It’s normally triggered by a misfiring engine. Read more.

Drivetrain Symbols & Warning Lights

The drivetrain symbols and warning indicators include everything from transmission out to wheels. As we told you before, red lights should always be looked at immediately!

Transmission Temperature Warning

Transmission Temperature Warning

A transmission temperature warning light indicates the transmission temperature is too high or an issue with the temperature measurement

Traction Control Off

Traction Control Off

A traction control off symbol indicates the traction control is manually switched off.

Powertrain Fault

Powertrain Fault

A powertrain fault symbol indicates there is an issue with the powertrain or drivetrain system like the 4WD or AWD system for example.

Overdrive Off Indicator

Overdrive Off indicator

An overdrive off symbol indicates the automatic transmission overdrive system is switched off

Parking Brake Light

Parking Brake Light

A parking brake warning light indicates the parking brake is engaged or there is an issue with the parking brake system

Differential Temperature Warning

Differential Temperature Warning

A differential temperature warning light indicates the differential temperature is too high, or an issue with the measurement system.

Dtc Warning Light

DTC Warning Light

A DTC warning light indicates an issue with the BMW traction control system

Esp Bas

ESP BAS

An ESP BAS warning light indicates an issue with the electronic stability program or brake assist program

Automatic Gearbox Warning

Automatic Gearbox Warning

An automatic gearbox warning indicates an issue with the automatic transmission or the system controlling it

Brake Pad Warning

Brake Pad Warning

A Brake pad warning light indicates the front or rear brake pads are worn and need to be replaced.

Brake Warning Light

Brake Warning Light

A brake warning light indicates an issue with the brake system. This should be checked immediately because you may lose your brakes otherwise.

Service Vehicle Soon

Service Vehicle Soon

A service vehicle soon symbol indicates there is an issue with the ABS, traction control, or electric suspension system

4Wd Engaged Indicator

4WD Engaged Indicator

A 4WD engaged symbol indicates the four-wheel-drive system is engaged.

2Wd Engaged Indicator

2WD Engaged Indicator

A 2WD engaged symbol indicates the 4WD system is switched off and the car is sending power to two wheels only

All Wheel Drive (Awd/4Wd)

All Wheel Drive (AWD/4WD)

An All Wheel Drive symbol indicates that the AWD or 4WD system is engaged.

Safety Symbols

Safety symbols should be taken very seriously. Especially if it’s a red danger light, you are looking at! It can often be a question between life and death if you are unlucky.

Hazard Lights On

Hazard Lights On

A hazard lights symbol indicates that the hazard lights are turned on

Door Ajar Symbol

Door Ajar Symbol

A door ajar symbol indicates that one of the doors is open or there is an issue with the door switch system

Hood Open

Hood Open

A hood open symbol indicated that the hood is not closed properly. A not secured hood is very dangerous to drive with at higher speeds

Lane Departure Warning

Lane Departure Warning

A lane departure warning light indicates the vehicle is moving out from the lane without signaling

Forward Collision Warning

Forward Collision Warning

A forward-collision warning light indicates there is a potential collision is detected.

Srs Light

SRS Light

An SRS warning light indicates there is an issue with the airbag or supplemental restraint system. Read more

Seat Belt Indicator

Seat Belt Indicator

A seat belt symbol indicates one or more seat belts are not closed or there is an issue with the detection system.

Side Airbag Warning Light

Side Airbag Warning Light

A side airbag warning light indicates the side airbags are turned off or there is an issue with the side airbags.

Power Steering Warning Light

Power Steering Warning Light

A power steering warning light indicates there is an issue with the power steering system

Icy Road Warning Light

Icy Road Warning Light

An icy road warning light indicates the outside temperature is cold and that there is a risk of an icy road. Slow down!

Distance Warning

Distance Warning

A distance warning indicates the front radar detected that your vehicle is too close to the car in front or is being approached too quickly

Bonnet Open

Bonnet Open

A bonnet open symbol indicates that the bonnet is not closed properly or an issue with the bonnet lock switch

Lighting Symbols

Vehicle lighting symbols are connected to your car’s lighting system. These colors may be blue, green, or yellow in color and often represent certain functions of the vehicle like turn signals or hazards lights for example.

Headlight Range Control

Headlight Range Control

A headlight range control warning light indicates there is an issue with the headlight range control system

Exterior Light Fault

Exterior Light Fault

An exterior light warning light indicates an issue with one or more exterior lights, usually faulty light bulbs.

Highbeam Light Indicator

Highbeam Light Indicator

A high beam light symbol indicates that the high beam lights are turned on

Auto High Beam Lights

Auto High Beam Lights

An auto high beam lights symbol indicated that the auto high beam system is turned on

Position Light Indicator

Position Light Indicator

A position light symbol will turn on when the headlights are switched off and the position lights are on

Low Beam Indicator Light

Low Beam Indicator Light

A low beam light symbol is turned on when the low beam headlights are turned on

Front Fog Lights On

Front Fog Lights On

A front fog light symbol is showing up when the front fog lights are turned on.

Rear Fog Light On

Rear Fog Light On

A rear fog light symbol is showing up when the rear fog lights are turned on.

Turn Lights Warning Symbol

Turn Lights Warning Symbol

A turn light warning symbol indicates that there is an issue with the headlights turn-light system.

Comfort Symbols

Windshield Defrost Indicator

Windshield Defrost Indicator

A windshield defrost symbol indicates that the windshield defrost is turned on

Rear Window Defrost

Rear Window Defrost

A rear window defrost symbol indicates that the rear window’s defroster is turned on

Cruise Control On Indicator

Cruise Control On Indicator

A green cruise control symbol indicates the cruise control is switched on and engaged.

Cruise Control Warning

Cruise Control Warning

A cruise control warning symbol indicates there is an issue with the cruise control or throttle control system

Cruise Control Speed Limiter

Cruise Control Speed Limiter

A cruise control speed limiter symbol indicates that the cruise control system will limit the max speed.

Cruise Control Set Indicator

Cruise Control SET Indicator

A “SET” symbol indicates that the cruise control is set to a fixed speed and trying to hold the speed.

Shift Up Indicator

Shift Up Indicator

A shift up symbol indicates that it’s time to shift up to a higher gear

Shift Down Indicator

Shift Down Indicator

A shift down symbol indicates that it’s time to shift down to a lower gear

Auto Windshield Wiper

Auto Windshield Wiper

An auto windshield wiper symbol indicates that the auto wiper system is turned on.

Recirculated Cabin Air

Recirculated Cabin Air

A recirculated cabin air symbol indicates that the car will recirculate the air inside the car instead of taking air from the outside of the car

Heater Blower Fan On

Heater Blower Fan On

A heater blower fan symbol indicates that the blower motor is turned on.

Heated Seats On

Heated Seats On

A heated seat symbol indicates that one or more seats’ heating system is turned on.

Other Symbols

Here is a list of other common dashboard symbols and lights that didn’t fit in any of the categories we’ve covered so far. Remember, there are hundreds of different ones if you include all car models but these are some examples!

Hill Descent Control

Hill Descent Control

A hill descent control symbol indicated that the hill descent system is turned on and will limit the car’s speed while going downhill.

Steering Lock Warning Light

Steering Lock Warning Light

A steering lock warning light indicates that there is an issue with the steering lock or that the car key is not recognized

Brake Fluid Level Warning

Brake Fluid Level Warning

A brake fluid level warning indicates that the brake fluid level is too low, or there is an issue with the measurement system.

Key Not In Vehicle Indicator

Key Not in Vehicle Indicator

A Key Not in Vehicle symbol indicates the car’s immobilizer system can’t reach or recognize your car key

Immobilizer Indicator

Immobilizer Indicator

An immobilizer symbol indicates that it can’t reach or recognize your car key, or an issue with the immobilizer system.

Ignition Switch Warning

Ignition Switch Warning

An ignition switch warning symbol indicates that there is an issue with the ignition switch system.

Low Electric Battery Charge

Low Electric Battery Charge

A low electric battery charge symbol indicates that it’s time to charge your electric vehicle’s battery

Brake Lights Warning

Brake Lights Warning

A brake light warning indicates that the brake lights are not working.

Air Suspension Warning

Air Suspension Warning

An air suspension warning symbol indicates that there is an issue with the air suspension system.

Suspension Warning Light

Suspension Warning Light

A suspension warning light shows up when there is a malfunction with the electric suspension system.

Car On Ramp Mode

Car on Ramp Mode

A car on ramp mode warning symbol turns on when the car’s tires are raised up in the air or when the repair mode is activated

Eco Mode On Indicator

ECO Mode On Indicator

An ECO Mode on symbol indicates that the Economy system is turned on. Read more

Rear Spoiler Warning

Rear Spoiler Warning

A rear spoiler warning light indicates that there is a malfunction in the rear spoiler electric system

Lane Assist

Lane Assist

A green lane assist symbol indicates that the lane assist system is turned on.

Exhaust Fluid (Diesel)

Exhaust Fluid (Diesel)

An exhaust fluid warning light indicates that the exhaust fluid (AdBlue) level is low in your diesel car.

Convertible Roof Warning Light

Convertible Roof Warning Light

A Convertible Roof Warning Light indicates that the convertible roof system is opening or closing

Blue Coolant Temp Light

Blue Coolant Temp Light

A blue engine temperature symbol indicates that the engine is still cold and you should drive carefully.

Information Symbol

Information Symbol

An information symbol indicates that there is an issue with your car and there is a new message is stored in the information display

Category: General
Need a repair manual?

A good repair manual will save you both time and money. Check out the best options here.

Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of MechanicBase. He has been working as a mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced diagnostics and troubleshooting. Certified Automotive Diagnostic Technician.