You’ll no doubt have noticed every time your start your car, or indeed a rental car that all of the lights on the dash illuminate and then quickly go out, this is all part of the start-up procedure and standard electrical and systems checks the car will do each time it is started. It’s usually quite rare to see any of these lights beyond the start-up, however would you know what any of these lights actually mean should they come on? Most of them are advisory and some will require your immediate attention, whilst some you may have more time to address. Either way, it’s wise to understand what these dashboard warning lights mean and what actions you need to take. This is even more important in a rental car as the lights may differ from your own car and we advise that you contact the rental agent for advice should your rental car display any of the dash warning lights.
*Whilst we’ve gone to every effort to cover the most common dash lights and their standardised format, you should check the owners manual for confirmation or if you unsure as not all manufacturers use the same lights / symbols and some may have additional lights for specific purposes. Not all cars will have all the lights displayed here.
It’s reasonable to assume that the color of the dash light will give you some indication as to the severity or urgency of the information provided. In general, a red dash light indicates a warning and something that requires you attention, an orange / amber light suggests an advisory issue that you should be aware of but not necessarily take immediate action and a white / blue / green light is most often simply for information / confirming an action / function.
Dash board information lights are just that, for information. It’s rare that you’ll have cause for concern if you see any of the dash symbols below, however you still need to be aware what they mean and why they might display. For instance, the high beam (main beam) dash symbol indicates that you have switched on the main beam headlights, which is great for you to see as far ahead as possible in the dark, however very dazzling for oncoming driver which could lead to an accident. If using main beam, it’s important to switch them off again for oncoming traffic. Other dashboard information symbols of note include the ECO mode symbol, many modern cars will have an eco mode or recommended shift light to maximise economy both reducing fuel consumption and emissions.
Indicates that electric power is limited, only found on electric / hybrid vehicles
Ensure fog lights are switched off when conditions improve as fog-lights can dazzle other road users.