Car Dashboard Lights - what do they mean?

What is it? The brake warning light.

The cause: If this light appears while you're driving, you have most likely left your handbrake on. If your handbrake is off but the light is still on, it may mean that you are low on brake fluid or there is a serious problem with your hydraulic brake system.

The solution: If you notice a difference in your brakes, for example, if they feel spongy or the pedal sinks to the floor, then pull over and call your breakdown service immediately. If the brakes feel normal, it's still recommended that you book in for a Free Brake Check at your local Halfords Autocentre.

What is it? The engine warning light (ECU).

The cause: A sensor has detected a problem with your engine. This light could indicate a number of things: simple issues such as the fuel cap is not fastened correctly, to wider problems with the engine or emissions system like a failed catalytic converter.

The solution: Even if your vehicle is not experiencing any other symptoms, it's best to get this checked with a diagnostic machine at a trusted garage to determine the problem.

What is it? Battery warning light

The cause:If this light doesn't go out a few seconds after starting the engine, there could be a fault in your alternator, battery or electrical system which means the car isn't charging itself when driving, which could cause the battery to drain and the engine to eventually stop.

The solution: If this light comes on, you should turn off anything non-essential that uses the battery such as the heating, air conditioning, the radio, any charging devices or sat navs and any heated seats. Don't stop and turn off your engine either because the car may not start again, so only turn the car off once you're somewhere safe. You can visit any Halfords Autocentre for a free battery check.

What is it? The coolant warning light.

The cause: Your coolant level is low. Without coolant, the car will get too hot to function and this could cause damage to the engine which can be very expensive to repair.

The solution: First, pull over to allow the engine to cool down. Next, check the coolant levels of the tank under the bonnet. Be very careful when opening the lid on the coolant tank though as if the engine is still hot, you could be scalded by escaping steam. If the light comes back on it could mean you have a leaky radiator or a more serious problem such as a blown head gasket. If this is the case, you need your car to be looked at straight away.

What is it? The airbag warning light.

The cause: There's a fault with one or more of your airbags.

The solution: If there is a fault with your airbag you should get this looked at by a mechanic straight away. If you were to ignore the problem and get into an accident the airbag may not activate in a crash, leaving you and your passengers without protection. Alternatively, it could be activated when you least expect it, causing injury.

What is it? Seat belt red warning light.

The cause: You or a passenger are not wearing a seatbelt while the vehicle is in motion.

The solution: This is a simple problem to resolve, but also one of the most important. If this light comes on it essentially means someone in the car is not wearing a seatbelt. Do remember that all passengers, whether they're sat in the front or the back are required to wear a seatbelt, by law.

What is it? The tyre pressure warning light (TPMS).

The cause: The tyre-pressure monitoring system has detected a drop in pressure.

The solution: You could have a puncture in one of your tyres or they may just need inflating. Your tyre pressures can affect your braking distance and handling so it's best to stop and check your tyre pressure and pump them up if necessary. If you notice a puncture, change the wheel or use sealant to stop the leak.Then visit your nearest Autocentre to get it repaired.

What is it? Anti-lock braking system (ABS) warning light.

The cause: There is a fault in your ABS braking system, which helps your car come to a stop in emergencies.

The solution: If the ABS braking system is working you should feel the brake pedal pulsing when you brake hard. If it's not doing this, you need to get car checked out as soon as possible as your emergency braking may be affected. If the ABS indicator is on and the brake warning light is showing, it could mean there is something seriously wrong with your brakes. We recommend booking in for a Free Brake Check at your local Halfords Autocentre where an expert can assess the system.

What is it? Doors open warning light.

The cause: Either your boot, bonnet or one of the car doors has not been shut properly.

The solution: Pull over and make sure all doors are shut correctly. There may be something stuck between the door and is preventing it from locking. If you have children in the back seats, it's a good idea to switch on the child safety locks to ensure they don't open the doors when the car is in motion

What is it? Hydraulic power steering warning light.

The cause: The most common cause for this indicator appearing is a lack of power steering fluid, but there may be a more serious problem with the system.

The solution: Pull over, switch the engine off and check your power steering fluid levels. If the light remains illuminated, seek assistance as it may not be safe to continue driving.

If you've recently disconnected the battery, you'll need to reset the steering system. Turn your steering wheel fully left and then fully right before driving slowly for a short distance.

What is it? Glow plug warning light on diesel cars only.

The cause: Your glow plugs which are heating elements that helps start your engine, are faulty.

The solution: It's normal for the warning light to appear for a second or two on start, however, if it stays on longer, visit your local Halfords Autocentre for a diagnostic check as you may require a replacement.

What is it? Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) warning light on Diesel cars only.

The cause: Over time, the DPF can become clogged up with exhaust soot and will need to be emptied. Frequent short journeys, or travelling at low speeds can clog up the filter more quickly.

The solution: We recommend getting a DPF clean at your local Autocentre every six months, to help burn off these deposits and keep your diesel engine running smoothly. Do remember it's illegal to remove the DPF from your vehicle and can result in a fine of up to £2500.

Battery warning lightWhat is it? Low battery warning indicator on hybrid or electric cars only.

The cause: Your vehicle is low on power.

The solution: This will usually mean that you are very close to running out of charge and depending on your vehicle, it may stop.

Your car will start to use up its stored supply of petrol or diesel but, if you have a plug-in hybrid, you may want to plug into an electrical charging point at your nearest charging station. Make sure you monitor the charge gauge to see how much power is remaining during your journey. If you're concerned about your Hybrid vehicle, visit your nearest Halfords Garage where our experts will be able to assist you.

Remember, if your dashboard symbols are illuminated your car is trying to tell you something, so don't ignore them. Book in with our expert mechanics at your nearest Halfords Autocentre to get a car dashboard warning light check out or for a service on your vehicle. Our team can also check your tyre pressure to ensure you're driving safely.