Common Car Warnings Lights and What They Mean

When a car warning light pops on in your car, what do you immediately think? Usually car owners expect the worse and often misdiagnose the real problem and/or panic in concern. Often times, these lights are merely visual indicators to perform routine maintenance or for an occasional check-up. When a warning light comes on you shouldn’t panic, instead refer to your dealer’s recommendations or consult your vehicles handbook. Ignoring the light can cause more problems down the road, so definitively take necessary action as soon as possible. To provide some extra knowledge, let’s review some common warning lights to truly understand their purposes and what to do when they become visible.


“Check Engine” Light


The Check Engine light is connected to your vehicles computer and is often the most common warning light that appears. Its appearance can stem from a variety of reasons, from simple to potentially serious and dangerous. The top five reasons for a check engine warning to appear are as follows:

  1. Your oxygen sensor needs to be replaced – The oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburned oxygen in your vehicle’s exhaust system and if not replaced, your engine can potentially burn more fuel. Faulty sensor(s) can cause damage to spark plugs and your catalytic converter.
  2. Gas cap is loose, damaged or missing – Your gas cap tends to seal the fuel system and maintain pressure within the fuel tank. If not fixed, you can loose fuel to evaporation and end up taking more trips to the gas pump, something no car owner wants.
  3. Faulty Catalytic Converter – Your catalytic converter protects our environment by converting carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. Without a working converter, your vehicle will not pass an emissions test and experiencing reduced performance and fuel economy will occur.
  4. Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF) needs replacement – Your mass airflow sensor measures the amount of air entering the engine to determine how much fuel is needed to run your engine efficiently. If not replaced, you can experience reduced performance and fuel economy.
  5. Spark plugs and wires need replacement – your spark plugs ignite air/fuel mixture in your vehicle’s combustion chamber. If not replaced, you can experience poor performance and reduced fuel economy.


“Dirty Air” Light


This light indicates your engine air filter may be obstructed or dirty. A simple fix involves resetting the button and replacing the filter.


“Brake Wear” Light


A relatively new light, the brake wear light, indicates your brake pads are generally thin. In older vehicles, owners would have to guess when their brake pads have run thin. But this now common light recommends contacting your mechanic regarding the brake pads, as brake pads are essential to the safety of your vehicle and those in it.


For more information regarding your vehicle, its warning lights, or features on newer vehicle models, visit your Fox Lake Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership. Our friendly and professional staff at Ray CDJR can help answer any questions you may have about any warning lights.