What that Warning Light is Trying to Tell You

As much as you might talk to your car (whether positive or negative), your car has just one way to talk back – dashboard lights. They light up as if to say “I’m thirsty for oil!” or “My engine hurts!” and are a way that almost anybody can handle maintenance before major damage occurs to your car. Understanding the various lights on your dashboard will help you know what your car is trying to tell you and how urgently you should be treating the issue.


How to Interpret a Check Engine Light

Chances are, you’ve seen the check engine light come on before. It’s a common warning light that can indicate a variety of potential issues. Modern cars are equipped with On Board Diagnostics, otherwise known as OBD-II. The system monitors the multitude of sensors throughout the vehicle to identify potential problems. The system can identify issues with the body, chassis, and powertrain. To read the code, a diagnostic tool is plugged into the port under the dash. The tool can be borrowed, usually for free, from most auto parts stores. Plug it in to retrieve the code and determine where the problem lies. You can then decide if it’s a repair you can handle or if it’s time to make an appointment with a mechanic.

Service Engine

The service engine light comes on when the car has a scheduled maintenance interval programmed into the computer. It monitors the mileage, and sometimes other factors, to alert you when you are approaching the next major service. Consult your owner’s manual or dealer to determine what the upcoming service will entail.

Brake Light

If a light illuminates that says ‘Brake’ or ‘ABS’ there is a potential issue with your brakes. The brake light is used to indicate your parking brake is set, so make sure to check that first. If your parking brake is not set, the light could be indicating a malfunction in the braking system. If the ABS light is on, it means there is an issue with the computer than controls your anti-lock brake system. Get your vehicle checked out by a qualified mechanic to address potential issues with your braking system.

Southern California Vehicle Care

If you have a warning light on and need auto body repair in Southern California, stop in to Spectrum Collision. Our Irvine-area auto body shop will be able to determine the source of the warning light and get your car back in tip-top shape. There’s no finer place for Irvine auto repair, so stop in today.


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