Ask a driver how to control the air conditioning in their vehicle and it’s a safe bet you'll get an answer. Ask that same driver to identify life-saving dashboard warning signals and the chance of a clear answer drops significantly.
According to a recent survey conducted by Schrader International, a manufacturer of sensing and valve solutions, only four out of every ten drivers were unable to identify key dashboard warning icons.
Now that summer is here and our road trip vacations are underway, it is more important than ever for drivers to be familiar with their vehicle and the systems put in place to warn them of potential danger. When viewing dashboard icons -- and depending on the car you drive, you can see a lot of them -- here are a few things to keep in mind.
· Don’t Panic: If you see a dashboard light you don’t recognize, pull your vehicle off to a safe place and review your owner’s manual. Call your mechanic or roadside assistance program to have your car towed if you don't feel it's safe to continue driving.
· Color is King: Red indicator lights refer to a serious issue that requires immediate attention. Amber-colored lights are usually a lower priority. Some examples would be the “BRAKE” icon and the seatbelt reminder icon.
· Communication is Key: The dashboard indicator lights are designed to communicate with the driver and provide notice of potential mechanical problems, some of which can be major safety issues. They should not be ignored. It’s a good idea to always keep your vehicle’s owner in the glovebox for easy reference.
Many dashboard icons are recognizable to the average motorist, including the seatbelt indicator light, low fuel light, and turn signals. In fact, several indicator lights are simply a way to notify a driver of a system status, as opposed to giving a warning. For example, the high beams light and the defroster light let the driver know these systems are on, and serve as a reminder to turn them off when they are no longer needed.
Other icons are designed to warn the driver of possible danger or the need for immediate professional attention. These include, but are not limited to:
· Low fuel notification – this panel is switched on if the fuel level gets very low and refuel is required.
· Brake system alert – the notification is powered on if the ECU detects a problem to the brake system.
· Warning light – This generic icon signals an unidentified problem with your car; it usually requires the car to be serviced.
· Tire pressure monitor – the warning is turned on in case of low tire pressure, which could raise the fuel consumption or affect the grip. Find out more about how the TPMS indicator can save your life at AskPatty.
· Temperature warning light – warns the driver of the possibility of engine overheating and usually demands the driver to stop the vehicle.
· Oil pressure warning – this notification is turned on if the ECU detects a problem with the oil pressure; when you see this light, it is usually recommended to stop the vehicle and service it as soon as possible.
· Front airbag – the light monitors the front airbag and, in case it is turned on, signals a problem with it; it usually requires professional assistance.
· Side airbag – same as the front airbag but intended for the side airbag
· Brake fluid malfunction – rarely installed on the dashboard, it unveils a problem in the brake fluid recipient.
· Battery warning – if this light is turned on while driving, it reveals a malfunction concerning the battery charging system.
· Powertrain malfunction –shows that the powertrain has been damaged and the car needs to be serviced as soon as possible.
Many thanks to Schrader International for sharing the information in this safety article!