Warning Lights and What They Mean to the Driver

We have all experienced that feeling of cruising down the road, sun shining, wind blowing, listening to your favorite music and out of nowhere…that ugly red or yellow warning indicator pops up on your dashboard. You’ve got a problem!  What do you do next? That all depends on what you see.

The first thing you should do is identify the color and type of malfunction indicator or MIL (Malfunction Indicator Light).  There are multiple MIL’s and these lights come on for various reasons and are specific to a system of the car.  Take note if you hear, see, smell or feel anything abnormal about your vehicle’s operation.  Warning lights will usually fit into one of two categories.

If the light is RED, this is serious.  You should immediately look for a safe place to pull the car over and turn the vehicle off as to avoid any further damage to the vehicle or to avoid any potentially unsafe conditions.  Generally, a red light will illuminate if the vehicle is overheating, the brakes experience a hydraulic malfunction, the vehicle’s electrical power supply is compromised, the airbags won’t operate in a collision or if the engine oil pressure is low.  A flashing MIL can indicate an engine misfire which should be treated the same as a red light. These are all serious conditions which need to be addressed immediately.  You may need to tow your vehicle to the repair shop.

If the light isYELLOW or AMBER in color, it is probably safe to continue driving for a bit. Yellow lights indicate a less serious malfunction has occurred, but the vehicle may still be drivable for a short period.  Yellow lights can indicate many different possible problems ranging from low windshield washer fluid to engine control malfunctions.  Try to identify if the vehicle is performing properly. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it may be smart to exit to a safe area in a nearby parking lot or gas station and evaluate the situation.  If the low tire pressure indicator is on, you should check your tire pressures. You may have picked up a nail and have a tire losing air slowly.

Consult your owner’s manual, if necessary, to determine what the light means.  If everything is performing well, and none of your senses have been alerted, contact one of Asian Imports three convenient locations for a reservation to have a technician properly evaluate the issue.  We will connect a computer to the vehicle, if needed, and access the system that has identified a malfunction.  From there a diagnosis of the problem may be required to pinpoint the exact cause of the malfunction and to offer a proper solution. 

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