We’re all familiar with that moment of uncertainty when a warning light flashes on our car’s dashboard. It leaves us scrambling for the manual, attempting to decipher what the illuminated symbol signifies.
In this article, we will guide you through the top 89 most common car dashboard symbols and their meanings, empowering you with knowledge for the next time a warning light appears. By recognizing what these lights indicate, you can sidestep expensive repairs in the future.
Some dashboard symbols and warning lights are more common than others. Some are specific to certain car brands, while others will be seen on most car models on the market. We will begin by showing you the most common dashboard symbols that can be found in most car brands.
Here is a list of the dashboard symbols, and you can click on each name to get more information about the specific warning light.
Engine & Emission
|52. Headlight Range Control|
|53. Exterior Light Fault|
|54. Highbeam Light Indicator|
|55. Auto High Beam Lights|
|56. Position Light Indicator|
|57. Low Beam Indicator Light|
|58. Front Fog Lights On|
|59. Rear Fog Light On|
|60. Turn Lights Warning Symbol|
1. Check Engine Light
A Check Engine light indicates an issue with the engine or the emissions. It can be shown either as an engine symbol or as plain text reading “Check Engine”. Read More
2. Anti-lock Braking System
An ABS light indicates there is an issue with your anti-lock brakes or Anti-lock braking system (ABS). Read more
3. Airbag Indicator
An airbag light means that there is an issue with the airbag system. The airbags will not deploy in an accident with the light on. Read more
4. Oil Level Warning Light
A yellow oil level warning light indicates a low engine oil level. The oil level should be checked as soon as possible. Most likely due to an oil leak.
5. Oil Pressure Warning
A red oil pressure light indicates low oil pressure in the engine. Your engine should be switched off immediately to avoid damage when the oil pressure warning light shows. Read more
6. Battery Charge Warning
A battery charge warning symbol means that the generator is not charging the battery properly and that your engine is at risk of shutting down due to low battery capacity. Read more
7. Coolant Temperature Warning Light
An engine temperature warning light means that the engine coolant temperature is high and that the engine should be turned off immediately to avoid further damage. Read more
8. Tire Pressure Warning Light
A tire pressure warning light indicates low air pressure in one or more tires. It can also be caused by a faulty or uncalibrated tire pressure sensor. Read more
9. Traction Control/ESP Light
An ESP or Traction control light indicates an issue with the traction control system. Your traction control system will not work when the light is on, and this can be dangerous. Read More
10. Service Engine Soon
A Service Engine Soon message indicates minor trouble with the engine or low fluid levels. Read more
11. Low Washer Fluid Light
A washer fluid symbol means that the windshield washer fluid level is low or has incorrect measurements.
12. Automatic Shift Lock Symbol
An automatic shift lock symbol indicates the brake pedal is not pressed. The car will not start, and the shifter won’t move out of Park.
13. Reduced Engine Power
A Reduced engine power car light means that there is an issue with the engine and the power is reduced to protect the engine. Read more
14. Lambda Warning Light
A lambda warning light indicates there is an issue with the air-fuel mixture or an issue with the oxygen sensors. This light is more common in older car models.
15. Low Coolant Indicator
A low coolant warning light indicates there is a low coolant level in the coolant reservoir or an issue with the coolant level sensor. Check for leaks around the radiator, radiator cap, coolant hoses, or water pump.
16. Glow Plug Indicator (Diesel)
A glow plug symbol indicates there is an issue with the glow plugs or the glow plug control system.
17. Fuel Filter Level Warning
A fuel filter level warning light means that the water-trap in the fuel level is full and needs to be emptied.
18. Power Steering Level Symbol
A power steering level warning light indicates the power steering fluid level is low, or there is an issue with the level sensor.
19. Electronic Throttle Control Light
An electronic throttle control (ETC) warning light indicates there is an issue with the engine’s electronic throttle body or the system.
20. Particle Filter Warning (Diesel)
A diesel particulate filter warning light indicates there is an issue with the diesel particulate filter system (DPF), or that the particle filter is full and needs regeneration or replacement.
21. Low Fuel Level
A low fuel level symbol means that the fuel tank level is low or that there is an issue with the fuel level measuring system. There could also be an arrow, indicating which side your gas cap is on.
22. Catalytic Converter Warning
A catalytic converter warning light indicates there is an issue with the catalytic converter control system, or the catalytic converter is damaged.
23. Master Warning Light
A master warning light normally shows up together with another warning light and means that there is an issue with your car. Let a mechanic take a look.
A blinking or flashing engine light indicates there is an issue with your engine ongoing right now. A flashing light is normally triggered by a misfiring engine. Read more.
25. Transmission Temperature Warning
A transmission temperature warning light indicates the transmission temperature is too high, or there is an issue with the temperature measurement.
26. Traction Control Off
The traction control off symbol means that the traction control is manually switched off.
27. Powertrain Fault
A powertrain fault symbol indicates there is an issue with the powertrain or drivetrain system, like the 4WD or AWD system, for example.
28. Overdrive Off indicator
An overdrive off symbol means that the automatic transmission overdrive system is switched off. Read more
29. Parking Brake Light
A parking brake warning light indicates the parking brake is engaged, or there is an issue with the parking brake system
30. Differential Temperature Warning
A differential temperature warning light indicates the differential temperature is too high, or there is an issue with the measurement system.
31. DTC Warning Light
A DTC warning light means that there is an issue with the BMW traction control system.
32. ESP BAS
An ESP BAS warning light indicates an issue with the electronic stability program or brake assist program.
33. Automatic Gearbox Warning
An automatic gearbox warning indicates an issue with the automatic transmission or the system controlling it.
34. Brake Pad Warning
A Brake pad warning light means that the front or rear brake pads are worn and need to be replaced.
35. Brake Warning Light
A brake warning light indicates an issue with the brake system. This should be checked immediately because you may lose your brakes otherwise.
36. Service Vehicle Soon
A service vehicle soon symbol indicates there is an issue with the ABS, traction control, or electric suspension system.
37. 4WD Engaged Indicator
A 4WD engaged symbol means that the four-wheel-drive system is engaged.
38. 2WD Engaged Indicator
A 2WD engaged symbol indicates the 4WD system is switched off and the car is sending power to two wheels only.
39. All Wheel Drive (AWD/4WD)
An All Wheel Drive symbol indicates that the AWD or 4WD system is engaged.
40. Hazard Lights On
A hazard lights symbol means that the hazard lights are turned on.
41. Door Ajar Symbol
A door ajar symbol indicates that one of the doors is open or there is an issue with the door switch system.
42. Hood Open
A hood open symbol indicates that the hood is not closed properly. It is very dangerous to drive with a hood that is not secured at higher speeds.
43. Lane Departure Warning
A lane departure warning light indicates the vehicle is moving out from the lane without signaling
44. Forward Collision Warning
A forward-collision warning light means that there is a potential collision detected.
45. SRS Light
An SRS warning light indicates there is an issue with the airbag or supplemental restraint system. Read more
46. Seatbelt Indicator
A seatbelt symbol indicates one or more seat belts are not closed or there is an issue with the system. Check both the driver and passenger sides and the rear seats on some car models.
47. Side Airbag Warning Light
A side airbag warning light indicates the side airbags are turned off or there is an issue with the side airbags.
48. Power Steering Warning Light
A power steering warning light means that there is an issue with the power steering system
49. Icy Road Warning Light
An icy road warning light indicates the outside temperature is cold and that there is a risk of an icy road. Slow down!
50. Distance Warning
A distance warning indicates the front radar detected that your vehicle is too close to the car in front or is being approached too quickly.
51. Bonnet Open
A bonnet open symbol means that the bonnet is not closed properly, or there is an issue with the bonnet lock switch.
52. Headlight Range Control
A headlight range control warning light indicates there is an issue with the headlight range control system
53. Exterior Light Fault
An exterior light warning light indicates an issue with one or more exterior lights, usually faulty light bulbs.
54. Highbeam Light Indicator
A high beam light symbol means that the high beam lights are turned on
55. Auto High Beam Lights
An auto high beam lights symbol means that the auto high beam system is turned on
56. Position Light Indicator
A position light symbol will turn on when the headlights are switched off and the position lights are on
57. Low Beam Indicator Light
A low beam light symbol is turned on when the low beam headlights are turned on
58. Front Fog Lights On
A front fog light symbol is illuminated when the front fog lights are turned on.
59. Rear Fog Light On
A rear fog light symbol is illuminated when the rear fog lights are turned on.
60. Turn Lights Warning Symbol
A turn light warning symbol indicates that there is an issue with the headlight’s turn-light system.
61. Windshield Defrost Indicator
A windshield defrost symbol indicates that the windshield defroster is turned on.
62. Rear Window Defrost
A rear window defrost symbol means that the rear window’s defroster is turned on.
63. Cruise Control On Indicator
A green cruise control symbol indicates the cruise control is switched on and engaged.
64. Cruise Control Warning
A cruise control warning symbol indicates there is an issue with the cruise control or throttle control system.
65. Cruise Control Speed Limiter
A cruise control speed limiter symbol means that the cruise control system will limit the max speed.
66. Cruise Control SET Indicator
A “SET” symbol indicates that the cruise control is set to a fixed speed and trying to hold the speed.
67. Shift Up Indicator
A shift up symbol indicates that it’s time to shift up to a higher gear.
68. Shift Down Indicator
A shift down symbol means that it’s time to shift down to a lower gear.
69. Auto Windshield Wiper
An auto windshield wiper symbol indicates that the auto wiper system is turned on.
70. Recirculated Cabin Air
A recirculated cabin air symbol indicates that the car will recirculate the air inside the car instead of taking air from the outside of the car
71. Heater Blower Fan On
A heater blower fan symbol means that the blower motor is turned on.
72. Heated Seats On
A heated seat symbol indicates that one or more seats’ heating system is turned on.
73. Hill Descent Control
A hill descent control symbol indicates that the hill descent system is turned on and will limit the car’s speed while going downhill.
74. Steering Lock Warning Light
A steering lock warning light means that there is an issue with the steering lock or that the car key is not recognized
75. Brake Fluid Level Warning
A brake fluid level warning indicates that the brake fluid level is too low, or there is an issue with the measurement system.
76. Key Not in Vehicle Indicator
A Key Not in Vehicle symbol indicates the car’s immobilizer system can’t reach or recognize your car key.
77. Immobilizer Indicator
An immobilizer symbol means that it can’t reach or recognize your car key, or there is an issue with the immobilizer system.
78. Ignition Switch Warning
An ignition switch warning symbol indicates that there is an issue with the ignition switch system.
79. Low Electric Battery Charge
A low electric battery charge symbol indicates that it’s time to charge your electric vehicle’s battery.
80. Brake Lights Warning
A brake light warning light indicates that the brake lights are not working.
81. Air Suspension Warning
An air suspension warning symbol means that there is an issue with the air suspension system.
82. Suspension Warning Light
A suspension warning light shows up when there is a malfunction with the electric suspension system.
83. Car on Ramp Mode
A car on ramp mode warning symbol turns on when the car’s tires are raised up in the air or when the repair mode is activated.
84. ECO Mode On Indicator
An ECO Mode on symbol indicates that the Economy system is turned on. Read more
85. Rear Spoiler Warning
A rear spoiler warning light indicates that there is a malfunction in the rear spoiler electric system
86. Lane Assist
A green lane assist symbol indicates that the lane assist system is turned on.
87. Exhaust Fluid (Diesel)
An exhaust fluid warning light means that the exhaust fluid (AdBlue) level is low in your diesel car.
88. Convertible Roof Warning Light
A Convertible Roof Warning Light indicates that the convertible roof system is opening or closing.
89. Blue Coolant Temp Light
A blue engine temperature symbol means that the engine is still cold and you should drive carefully.
What do car dashboard symbols mean?
There are over 100 different car symbols, so to see each meaning, you must check your owner’s manual for your particular car model. Red generally indicates stop or danger, and yellow is for caution – you should visit a mechanic. Blue, green, and white all mean everything is normal and the system in your car is on and operating.
However, it’s important to note that different car models sometimes use different colors for similar warnings, so it’s always best to check your owner’s manual before taking any action.
What does a flashing dashboard symbol mean?
A flashing check engine light or another flashing symbol usually means there is a major issue with the system or that the problem is occurring at the moment. Severe damage or safety issues can occur if a flashing dashboard symbol is not addressed. Therefore, if you see a flashing dashboard symbol you should get in touch with a mechanic as soon as possible. However, this depends on the car model, and sometimes a flashing system just means a system is operating.
What are the symbols on the dashboard for?
The symbols on the dashboard indicate the operation of various systems and devices in your car. For instance, a picture of a yellow engine means there is an issue with the engine system. A green light bulb means that the headlights are on. There are many other symbols, and they can vary depending on the make of your car. You can usually find an explanation of all the symbols in your car’s owner’s manual.
Dashboard symbols are very important – they give you an understanding of what is happening with your car. By familiarizing yourself with the various symbols, you can save a lot of time and money when something goes wrong.
What you should know is that, in general, when it comes to cars, a red warning light means that there is danger and it should be checked immediately, while a yellow or orange warning light is a warning and should be checked as soon as possible. A green or blue light lets you know the system is on and operating
Normally, most car dashboard warning lights and symbols should be on for 3-5 seconds after you turn on the ignition, but if it stays on while the engine is running, there is probably something wrong that needs to be fixed. If you can’t find the dash symbol you are looking for, take a look in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
If you’re ever unsure of what a particular dashboard warning light or symbol means, check your car’s owner’s manual. If the problem persists, take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic as soon as possible to avoid serious damage. Here is a long video explanation of all the car dashboard symbols: