What do the warning lights on my car dashboard mean?

One of the biggest advantages of sharing more and owning less is that when it comes to vehicle maintenance, you don’t have to worry about taking your car to a garage and stumping up the money for repairs.

However, it’s the community that really keeps car-sharing in cities alive, and knowing what the dashboard warning lights signal, and reporting issues, allows providers like SHARE NOW to keep fleets in a road-worthy condition.

You may have noticed that dashboard warning lights can be either orange/yellow or red. There is an important distinction between these two states:

  • Orange or yellow warning lights mean that the engine management system has detected a fault that you should get checked when you get a chance.
  • A red warning light indicates that a serious issue has been detected, and you should act as quickly as possible.

SHARE NOW can automatically check the warning lights in its own cars via the on-board computer, so you don’t necessarily have to report things such as a low oil level or low washer fluid for the windscreen - but for more serious issues you could save us time if you do. The quicker we can get our cars back on the road the better it is for us all.

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Engine temperature warning

This can mean the engine temperature has exceeded normal limits and is getting too hot. It could be due to low coolant levels or coolant leaks. We'll ensure the fans are working correctly, and check the radiator cap.

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Battery charge warning

This one is pretty self-explanatory and means that the car’s battery is running low. This could be a result of it not charging properly. The battery charge warning light could also indicate a problem with the alternator.

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Oil pressure warning

The oil pressure warning light is one that should not be ignored. If you see this warning, it could mean that oil pressure is dangerously low. When oil pressure is low, the lubrication of the engine can be lost completely. It is not advised to drive a car with low oil pressure.

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Parking brake light

Nine times out of ten, when you see this warning light it just means that the parking brake has been left on. In modern cars that have a small switch rather than a big old lever, it is very easily done. However, if you notice the parking brake warning light is on continuously, it could mean that the hydraulic pressure in the brake system is too low.

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Tire pressure warning

The tire pressure warning is probably the most recognisable dashboard indicator light for drivers. We’ve all seen this one before. The warning light indicates that pressure is low in one of your tires, so if you are planning on topping them up with air, make sure you check all four wheels.

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Steering wheel lock indicator

Most of the modern cars in the SHARE NOW fleet have a steering wheel lock installed. This ensures that the steering wheel cannot be turned when the car is locked to prevent theft. If you notice this indicator light on when you are trying to set off on your trip, insert the key into the ignition and give the steering wheel a little wiggle - it should release.

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Seat belt indicator

This one is especially important if you are travelling with passengers, and indicates that a seatbelt has not been fastened. Usually tied to a pressure sensor that detects if someone is sitting in a seat, the seat belt indicator often comes paired with a warning sound. It’s not an easy one to miss, so be sure to belt up!

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Door open indicator

Like the seat belt indicator, the door open indicator will often come with an audio warning, especially if the engine is running. This indicator light is most useful when dropping off passengers who may not have closed their doors properly. You also need to ensure that all doors are closed when ending your SHARE NOW trip, so take notice of the door open indicator light.

David McCourt

David McCourt

Sr. Editorial Content Strategist

"Own less, share more."

David is on a mission to improve the quality of life in cities through modern mobility solutions.