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Dashboard Warning Lights

As modern motors become more and more high tech, we are able to revel in the glory of all our in-built gadgets and displays and supposedly enjoy simpler driving. But what happens when even the basics go wrong? With so many warning lights to alert you to important safety features and let you know when things go wrong, it can be hard to know what it means when your dashboard lights up.

Although no warning light should ever be ignored, some are more urgent than others. So which lights should leave you hitting the brakes and rushing to the nearest garage? Which ones are you ignoring when deep down you know you shouldn’t be? Which ones can actually wait a day or two until you can face up to the dreaded visit to the garage?

We’ve put together a checklist to help you decide:

Tyre pressure warning light

These are usually set to warn you when you need a little extra air, rather than when your tyres are dangerously flat, so you can usually keep going until you find a convenient garage or you next fuel up.

Brake warning lights

Again these are usually set to quite a high sensitivity, and will usually light up when your brake pads start to show wear, or your brake fluid drops a little. You should be OK driving for a short time, but make sure you get your brakes checked as soon as possible –never leave anything too long where your brakes are concerned.

Airbag warning light

It’s easy to ignore this one as it doesn’t affect your engine, right? Left unchecked, your airbag light could mean your airbags fail when you need them most or, worse still, go off unexpected when you are driving. Whilst we don’t consider this an emergency, always get them checked as a soon as possible as a precaution against the dangers of a failed or pre-emptive airbag.

Power steering light

If your power steering goes, you need to be heading to the garage as soon as you can – if your power steering fails it can make slow driving really heavy going and at speed, it can cause real problems. Get to your regular garage ASAP.

Engine warning light

A steady engine warning light should never be ignored. You should get your car checked out by a reputable mechanic as soon as possible and avoid driving it until you have. This may mean your garage has to recover your vehicle or do a home visit. If the light starts flashing while you are driving, you should stop straight away and call the rescue services.

Oil warning light

Oil is essential for the smooth running of your engine and without it components will grind together causing expensive damage. You should carry oil in your car at all times – be sure to top it up and then check again. If your oil light remains on, stop and seek help straight away. If you have breakdown cover (which you should), call them out and get your car taken to a garage for urgent attention.

Coolant warning light

On its own, a coolant warning light isn’t too much of a problem, but you should top up your radiator as soon as you can. However, if your temperature gauge is also in the red, it could mean a more serious problem like a leak or a gasket issue, so get your engine checked as soon as possible.

The good news is that all these sensors on your car don’t just talk to your dashboard warning lights, they also record data in your engine management system. This means that the garage can plug in to the system and quickly diagnose the problem without having to take your car apart to find out what is wrong.

However, like all things, your warning lights are subject to breaking too. Make sure you fulfill regular maintenance on your vehicle to avoid future problems and if you are concerned about something, don’t wait for your dashboard to tell you there is a problem.

Octagon offers four levels of Vehicle Rescue cover should you ever require roadside recovery and assistance. Whether you travel locally, nationally or even across Europe, you can choose a level of cover to suit your needs, so you’ll never be left stranded. Click here for more information.

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