Don’t Ignore Dashboard Warning Lights

May 14, 2017 4:38 pm Published by

Tools_3According to the research firm IHS Automotive, buyers are holding onto their new vehicles for 6.5 years on average. That compares to 2006, when new vehicles were held for an average 4.3 years. One reason owners can hold onto their vehicles for more time is because vehicle warning systems have become more sophisticated. While these lights used to cause frustration because they were either incorrect or too vague, new systems are far more accurate.

While this is good news, it also means drivers need act when a warning shows on the dashboard. In this post, we’ll detail four of the most common and important dashboard warning lights, so you will know exactly what to do if they light up.


The Oil Pressure Warning Light

The oil pressure warning light looks like a dripping oil can. This often means that you have insufficient oil in your vehicle, but it could also mean you have:

  • a defective pump
  • a broken pressure sensor
  • leaking gaskets
  • leaking seals
  • worn engine bearings


What You Need to Do

The best practice here is to pull over as soon as it is safe, and have it looked at. Many times, a professional oil change will return your oil levels to the appropriate amount and fix the problem. If the issue is more serious, like a broken pump or pressure sensor, you should take your vehicle to a mechanic.


The Temperature Warning Light

This warning light is usually a symbol of a thermometer, or the word “TEMP.” It means the vehicle’s engine temperature has exceeded the safe maximum. This could be due to low coolant levels, a bad radiator cap, or a malfunctioning engine fan, among other things.


What You Need to Do

If your temperature warning light comes on, pull off the road at the nearest, safest opportunity and let the vehicle cool down. In the majority of cases, the light will remain on and you should call a tow truck. 

Important Safety Note: If your temperature warning light illuminates and you see steam or liquid coolant coming from under the hood, do not try to open the hood without giving the vehicle sufficient time to cool down (about 30 minutes should do). The danger stems from the potential of coolant steam building up under the hood thanks to a ruptured hose or faulty radiator cap.

The Brake System Warning Light

Your brake system warning light is an exclamation point with a circle around it. It lights up to alert you that your brake system is at risk of malfunction. Low brake fluid levels, worn brake pads, a faulty speed sensor, or leaking brakes may be the cause.


What You Need to Do

This light requires urgent attention, even if the solution requires regular brake maintenance services. We strongly recommend pulling over at the nearest and safest opportunity and calling a tow truck.


The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Warning Light

The TPMS warning light comes on when one or all of your tires falls below 80% of the recommended air pressure. This can be a result of a pinhole leak in your tire(s) or just the length of time since your previous air pressure adjustment.


What You Need to Do

We recommend getting to a service station so the tire(s) can be filled to the correct pressure and investigated for leaks. A tire operating at just 80% of its pressure is at a high risk of blowing out or not maintaining traction on slick roads.


Preventive Vehicle Maintenance Helps Avoid Warnings Altogether

Unfortunately, all the warning lights we discussed require urgent attention. There is, however, a proven way to avoid these dangerous and costly situations: keeping up with your preventive vehicle maintenance recommendations.

Your owner’s manual details the intervals for all necessary services, including:


Checking tire pressure is the only recommended task not covered by your owner’s manual. For this, we recommend checking the pressure at least once a month. This will help you catch a drop in pressure much earlier than the TPMS warning light. 

By coming to a local Jiffy Lube ® for these services on schedule, you will be doing your part to protect against these potentially dangerous situations.


PLEASE NOTE: Not all Jiffy Lube® service centers offer the services mentioned in this article. Please check our website to ensure that your desired service is available there.


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