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The engine warning lights that you shouldn't ignore

Posted on September 12, 2018 at 7:45 AM


There are many types of warning lights fitted to modern day cars, and while some are perfectly innocuous and can be temporarily ignored, there are some that should never be ignored. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the different engine warning lights that you could encounter and which ones should never be ignored.

Amber warnings

There are a number of amber warnings that are really not very serious and don’t require immediate attention such as low windscreen wiper fluid to ones that are far more serious such as an ECU light. The lights below are the ones that we’d recommend you investigate as soon as possible as the quicker you get them sorted, the cheaper the repair will be.

Power steering light

If after starting your car the power steering light stays illuminated then this could mean that there is a loss of pressure in the system or it could point towards an electronic issue.

Action – If the light comes on when driving then you should stop as soon as it is safe to do so and switch off the engine and allow the car to rest for a couple of minutes. Check the levels of fluid in the power steering system to see if these are low. If the levels are okay try restarting the car and seeing if the warning light goes out.

Diesel particulate filter

When the yellow DPF light comes on it usually means that recent regenerations have failed and that the DPF needs to be cleaned. If you do a lot of city or urban driving in stop and start traffic then this can mean the DPF has not been cleared properly.

Action – If the light is flashing then you should be able to force your car to do a regeneration by heading out onto the open road, dual carriageway or motorway and driving at a sustained speed for 30 – 45 minutes to clean the filter. Your cars owners’ manual should tell you how to do this. If the light fails to go out then it’s time to get your car booked into your local garage.

ECU – Engine management light

If your engine management light is flashing on and off or comes on solidly then this generally means there is a fault with the engines system. As the fault could be caused by a huge number of elements, this one will usually need a garage to investigate using your car’s OBD port.

Action – If the light is flashing while driving then try reducing your speed to see if it goes out. If the light doesn’t go out then stop the car as soon as possible and book your car into a garage. For a continuous light try turning your car off for a couple of minutes before restarting, if the light goes out then it should be safe to drive, otherwise book it into a garage as soon as possible.

Red warning lights

A red warning light represents a serious problem that you need to act on immediately. This does not mean that the repair will be expensive, just that you need to investigate the problem before it leads to substantial damage to your car.

Brake Light

If after taking off your handbrake the brake light stays illuminated then your car has a problem with the braking system. This could simply be that your brake fluid needs topping up or it could point to a more serious problem such as an ABS or ESP issue.

Action – Stop the car as soon as you safely can. Check the level of the brake fluid reservoir, if this is low then this is probably the issue and you should be fine driving to a local garage to get this topped up. If the fluid level is okay then you should get the car into your dealer or garage as soon as you can to diagnose the fault.

Airbag warning light

When driving if your airbag warning light comes on then this means there is a fault with the system. This could result in the airbag going off unexpectedly or not firing in the case of an accident.

Action – As soon as you notice an airbag fault you should take your car to the nearest garage or dealer to get the fault checked out. You should choose a main franchise dealer or specialist with knowledge of your car make.

Temperature warning light

If your temperature warning light comes on while you are driving then it means that your engine is overheating and you should stop immediately.

Action – Stop your car as soon as possible and turn off the engine to let your car cool down, this can be sped up by opening the bonnet. Wait at least 30 minutes before checking the engine coolant levels and where possible top these up. If after topping up the levels and driving your car the light comes on again then you need to stop the car and call a mechanic or garage and have the car towed.

Of course, if your car’s dashboard is lit up like a Christmas tree and you can’t afford to get it repaired then it could be time to thinking of scrapping your car with a reputable company like Cars 2 Cash.

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