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

Trouble and Safety Indicators and Symbols

SRS Air Bag Indicator SRS Air Bag Indicator Symbols,
Antilock Brake System Antilock Brake System Trouble Lights,
Automatic Shift Lock Automatic Shift Lock (ASL) Indicator Symbol
Blind Spot Warning Blind Spot Warning System
Catalytic Converter Warning Catalytic Converter Warning Symbol
Charging System Warning Charging System Warning Light Symbols
Check Engine Electrical Check Engine Electrical Indicator
Check Engine Light Check Engine Light Symbols
Clogged Air Filter Clogged Air Filter
Electronically Controlled Brake System Electronically Controlled Brake System Symbol
Electronic Throttle Control Electronic Throttle Control
Engine Foul Indicator Engine Foul Indicator
Reduced Engine Power Reduced Engine Power Indicator
Check Gas Cap Check Gas Cap
Lambda Lambda (Oxygen) Sensor
Low Brake Fluid Low Brake Fluid Indicator Symbol
Low Brake Pad Warning Low Brake Pad Warning Light
Low Coolant Lights Low Coolant Lights
Message Message
More Low Coolant More Low Coolant Lights
Parking Brake Engaged Parking Brake Engaged Indicator
Power Steering Trouble Power Steering Trouble Light
Drive train or Power train Trouble Drive train or Power train Trouble Lights
Security Indicator Security Indicator Symbols
Service Reminder Service Reminder
Tire Pressure Monitoring System Tire Pressure Monitoring System Lights

Control Assist System Symbols and Indicators

Brake Assist and Anti-Slip Brake Assist and Anti-Slip – Regulation Fault Indicator
Dynamic Stability Control Indicator Dynamic Stability Control Indicator or Electronic Stability Program
Low Speed and Grade Low Speed and Grade Assist Indicators
Slip Indicator and Fault Indicator Slip Indicator and Fault Indicator Symbols
Stability Control Off Stability Control Off
Traction Control Traction Control
Various Stability Control Off Text Various Stability Control Off Text

Special and Advanced Feature Symbols and Indicators

Active Cruise Control Active Cruise Control
Attention Alert Attention Alert
Brake Hold Brake Hold
Cruise Control Indicator Cruise Control Indicator Light
Cruise Control Cruise Control
Distance Warning Distance Warning
Easy Access Easy Access
Frost or Freeze Frost or Freeze Warning
Haul Haul (towing)
More Keyless Ignition Key Detection More Keyless Ignition Key Detection Indicators
Keyless Ignition Key Detection Indicator Keyless Ignition Key Detection Indicator Symbols
Lane Departure Warning Lane Departure Warning Symbol
Parking Assistance Parking Assistance
Suspension Setting Suspension Setting
Economy Operation Economy Operation
Up Shift Light Up Shift Light

Various 4-Wheel and All-Wheel Drive Feature Symbols

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

Symbols and Indicators for Hybrid and Plug-in Hybid Vehicles

High Voltage Battery Charge High Voltage Battery Charge Level Indicator
Charging System Warning Charging System Warning Light Symbols
Electric Vehicle Electric Vehicle (EV) Operation
Electric Vehicle (EV) Mode Electric Vehicle (EV) Mode
External Sound System External Sound System Fault
High Voltage Battery Charge Level High Voltage Battery Charge Level Indicator
Hybrid or Plug-in Hybrid Battery Hybrid or Plug-in Hybrid Battery Trouble Indicators
Hybrid Ready Hybrid Ready

Diesel-powered Vehicles Symbols

Diesel Particulate Filter Diesel Particulate Filter Warning
Glow Plug Glow Plug
More Particulate Filter More Particulate Filter Warning
Water in Fuel Water in Fuel

Lighting Indicators and Symbols

Cornering Headlight System Cornering Headlight System Malfunction Indicator
Daytime Running Daytime Running Lights Symbol
Fog Lamp Fog Lamp
Headlamp Leveling Headlamp Leveling System
Headlamp Out Headlamp Out
Headlamp Headlamp
High Beam on High Beam on
High-beam Assistant High-beam Assistant
Automatic Headlamp Dimmer Automatic Headlamp Dimmer
Rear Fog Lamp Rear Fog Lamp
Tail Light Out Tail Light Out
Tail Light Tail Light
Turn Signal Turn Signal

Routine Indicators and Symbols

Door Ajar or Door Open Door Ajar or Door Open Indicator
Fuel or Low Fuel Indicator Fuel or Low Fuel Indicator Symbol
Seat Belt Reminder Indicator Seat Belt Reminder Indicator Symbol
Windshield Washer Fluid Low Windshield 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.