Car Warning Lights - Car Dashboard Symbols

Understanding What They Mean

Your car warning lights provide valuable information about how well your vehicle is working. There are a number of different symbols your dashboard might display, and you should always pay careful attention to make sure your vehicle is safe and in good condition.

Color Warnings

All vehicles have slightly different warning lights, but most cars use a similar color system to indicate the type or the severity of the warning. Your dashboard likely displays warnings in three colors: red, yellow or orange, and green or blue.

Red Warning Light

A red warning light is usually a sign of an immediate problem that needs your attention right away. In some cases, it might not be safe to keep driving if you see a red warning light. Some of the most common warnings to appear in red include the hood or trunk open warning, the air bag warning, the brake warning, and the engine temperature warning.

Yellow or Orange Warning Light

Yellow and orange lights are usually advisories. They aren’t as urgent as red lights, but they still provide important information. For example, in most cars, the tire pressure sign, the low fuel sign, and the engine check sign are all yellow or orange. You can probably still drive the car safely for the time being, but something will require your attention soon.

Green or Blue Warning Light

Green and blue warning lights are typically the least urgent signs. In most cases, they just appear for your information, and they don’t indicate that you need to do any work on your car. Most green and blue lights simply tell you that a feature is activated. For example, they may tell you that your high beams are on or that your car is in ECO mode. Check out below car warning light to see more detailed information.

Warning Symbols – Truly Serious Ones

Brake WarningBrake Warning Indicators
Engine Coolant Temperature WarningEngine Coolant Temperature Indicator Symbols
Engine Oil Level or Oil Pressure WarningEngine Oil Level or Oil Pressure Warning Light Symbol
Engine Oil SensorEngine Oil Sensor and Level Indicators
Charging WarningCharging System Warning Light Symbols

Trouble and Safety Indicators and Symbols

SRS Air Bag IndicatorSRS Air Bag Indicator Symbols,
Antilock Brake SystemAntilock Brake System Trouble Lights,
Automatic Shift LockAutomatic Shift Lock (ASL) Indicator Symbol
Blind Spot WarningBlind Spot Warning System
Catalytic Converter WarningCatalytic Converter Warning Symbol
Charging System WarningCharging System Warning Light Symbols
Check Engine ElectricalCheck Engine Electrical Indicator
Check Engine LightCheck Engine Light Symbols
Clogged Air FilterClogged Air Filter
Electronically Controlled Brake SystemElectronically Controlled Brake System Symbol
Electronic Throttle ControlElectronic Throttle Control
Engine Foul IndicatorEngine Foul Indicator
Reduced Engine PowerReduced Engine Power Indicator
Check Gas CapCheck Gas Cap
LambdaLambda (Oxygen) Sensor
Low Brake FluidLow Brake Fluid Indicator Symbol
Low Brake Pad WarningLow Brake Pad Warning Light
Low Coolant LightsLow Coolant Lights
More Low CoolantMore Low Coolant Lights
Parking Brake EngagedParking Brake Engaged Indicator
Power Steering TroublePower Steering Trouble Light
Drive train or Power train TroubleDrive train or Power train Trouble Lights
Security IndicatorSecurity Indicator Symbols
Service ReminderService Reminder
Tire Pressure Monitoring SystemTire Pressure Monitoring System Lights

Control Assist System Symbols and Indicators

Brake Assist and Anti-SlipBrake Assist and Anti-Slip – Regulation Fault Indicator
Dynamic Stability Control IndicatorDynamic Stability Control Indicator or Electronic Stability Program
Low Speed and GradeLow Speed and Grade Assist Indicators
Slip Indicator and Fault IndicatorSlip Indicator and Fault Indicator Symbols
Stability Control OffStability Control Off
Traction ControlTraction Control
Various Stability Control Off TextVarious Stability Control Off Text

Special and Advanced Feature Symbols and Indicators

Active Cruise ControlActive Cruise Control
Attention AlertAttention Alert
Brake HoldBrake Hold
Cruise Control IndicatorCruise Control Indicator Light
Cruise ControlCruise Control
Distance WarningDistance Warning
Easy AccessEasy Access
Frost or FreezeFrost or Freeze Warning
HaulHaul (towing)
More Keyless Ignition Key DetectionMore Keyless Ignition Key Detection Indicators
Keyless Ignition Key Detection IndicatorKeyless Ignition Key Detection Indicator Symbols
Lane Departure WarningLane Departure Warning Symbol
Parking AssistanceParking Assistance
Suspension SettingSuspension Setting
Economy OperationEconomy Operation
Up Shift LightUp Shift Light

Various 4-Wheel and All-Wheel Drive Feature Symbols

All-wheelAll-wheel Drive Disabled and Fault Indicators
Differential LockDifferential Lock Indicators
Economy OperationEconomy Operation
Low Speed and Grade AssistLow Speed and Grade Assist

Symbols and Indicators for Hybrid and Plug-in Hybid Vehicles

High Voltage Battery ChargeHigh Voltage Battery Charge Level Indicator
Charging System WarningCharging System Warning Light Symbols
Electric VehicleElectric Vehicle (EV) Operation
Electric Vehicle (EV) ModeElectric Vehicle (EV) Mode
External Sound SystemExternal Sound System Fault
High Voltage Battery Charge LevelHigh Voltage Battery Charge Level Indicator
Hybrid or Plug-in Hybrid BatteryHybrid or Plug-in Hybrid Battery Trouble Indicators
Hybrid ReadyHybrid Ready

Diesel-powered Vehicles Symbols

Diesel Particulate FilterDiesel Particulate Filter Warning
Glow PlugGlow Plug
More Particulate FilterMore Particulate Filter Warning
Water in FuelWater in Fuel

Lighting Indicators and Symbols

Cornering Headlight SystemCornering Headlight System Malfunction Indicator
Daytime RunningDaytime Running Lights Symbol
Fog LampFog Lamp
Headlamp LevelingHeadlamp Leveling System
Headlamp OutHeadlamp Out
High Beam onHigh Beam on
High-beam AssistantHigh-beam Assistant
Automatic Headlamp DimmerAutomatic Headlamp Dimmer
Rear Fog LampRear Fog Lamp
Tail Light OutTail Light Out
Tail LightTail Light
Turn SignalTurn Signal

Routine Indicators and Symbols

Door Ajar or Door OpenDoor Ajar or Door Open Indicator
Fuel or Low Fuel IndicatorFuel or Low Fuel Indicator Symbol
Seat Belt Reminder IndicatorSeat Belt Reminder Indicator Symbol
Windshield Washer Fluid LowWindshield Washer Fluid Low Indicator

More Serious Warning Lights

Not every light that appears on your dashboard is an emergency. However, some do tell you urgent, serious information. All drivers should be aware of these important signals and the proper way to react if one appears.


The brake system warning light could indicate a number of different problems. It may tell you the brake fluid is low, the parking brake is engaged, or something is wrong with the anti-lock braking system. Before you start driving, you should make sure the parking brake is disengaged and that the car has enough brake fluid. If the brake fluid is low due to a leak, it could be a serious problem for your car.


The warning light for the engine coolant temperature usually looks like a thermometer or a box with wavy lines. It may indicate that your engine is overheating or that your coolant level is too low. To prevent damage to your engine, you should turn your car off immediately, allow the engine to cool down, and inspect the cooling system when you see this light. If you notice a leak, you should add coolant and bring your car to a mechanic as soon as possible.


The oil warning light can be a sign of a low oil level or low oil pressure. Most cars will show a warning light when the oil level just starts getting low, so drivers have extra time to plan for an oil change. If the light appears in red, you should turn off your vehicle, wait about five minutes for the oil to drain back into the pan, and check the oil levels. If they’re extremely low, you’ll have to add fresh oil before you drive to prevent damage to your car.

Battery Charging System

The battery warning light is usually red. It may look like a car battery, or it may say “BATT,” “CHG,” or “ALT.” When you see this light, your car’s charging system is not working properly, and your vehicle is relying on its stored battery power. There’s a limit to how far a car can travel on stored power, so this is a problem that requires immediate attention.

Your car dashboard symbols can give you essential information about how well your vehicle is working. Some problems are more urgent than others, but you should always take notice when you see a light appear on your dashboard. If you’re not sure what a symbol means, you should look it up in your user manual or try our DMV driving test right away to be safe.