Understanding Your Dashboard Lights

Published on

May 1, 2020

A check engine light can mean many things. Each light has a specific meaning and guides the technician to look for specific potential issues. Although not all warning lights are the same, understanding your dashboard lights will help you keep your vehicle running in top condition.

You should always refer to your vehicle manufacturer’s guide when you see a check engine light on.

Here are some of the most common warning lights and what they could mean:

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This warning indicator light could be a sign that your car’s computer is alerting you to have an oil change. Changing your oil and filter will help your vehicle’s engine continue working at its best.

When you see this warning, bring your car to your nearest Quality Tune-Up shop for a recommendation from one of our service professionals. Our technicians will consider the make, model, condition and mileage of your car before recommending the necessary oil change.

We proudly offer Chevron Supreme, Havoline High Mileage and Havoline ProDS Full Synthetic oil to meet your vehicle manufacturer's recommendations. Plus, all services will be warranted for three (3) months or 3,000 miles unless otherwise noted.

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This warning light usually indicates three possible conditions. Your parking brake is on; your car has a problem with the braking system/brake fluid is low, or ABS problem. You need to check your brake fluid to make sure the parking brake is fully released. If the problem is in the ABS system, it may need a professional diagnosis.

To avoid dangerous situations, it is important to adhere to routine brake service and brake maintenance. Quality Tune-Up recommends having your brakes repaired and serviced by a professional mechanic at least once a year. At Quality Tune-Up, we take brake repair very seriously.

This warning indicator light could be a sign that your vehicle’s temperature has exceeded the normal limit. Check your car’s coolant level, fan operation, radiator cap and coolant leaks. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the coolant periodically to avoid expensive repairs. Your service adviser can tell you when your car needs a new coolant.

Quality Tune-Up trained mechanics inspect the system for leaks and damage prior to replacing your fluid. We pressure test the system for leaks and to make sure your radiator cap is sealing correctly.

Because the serpentine belt drives the water pump we also check it for wear and replace it, if necessary, at an additional cost to the service.

A special machine is used to force the old fluid out of the system and replace it with new fluid recommended by the car manufacturer.

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This warning indicator light could be a sign of loss of oil pressure. You need to immediately check your engine's oil level and pressure. This also means that you need to pull over, turn off your engine and let it cool.


This warning indicator light could be a sign that your vehicle’s transmission is operating at higher than optimum temperature as transmission fluid is hotter than normal. Check transmission fluid level and engine coolant level to avoid overheating.

At Quality Tune-Up, our qualified mechanics can perform a test on your transmission fluid with a chemically treated pad to determine if your transmission fluid is ready to be changed free of charge anytime you are in for service.


When you see this light, it means there is a problem with your power steering system. Like most of the fluids in your car, power steering fluid breaks down from constant use. Once it begins to break down it leaves deposits in the components of your system. These deposits cause excessive wear and can result in expensive repairs when a major component fails.

It is critical that you understand these warning lights because you might be able to avoid a car breakdown or full-on failure. Most importantly, knowing your dashboard lights warning will help keep you and others safe.

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