What Do Those Dashboard Lights in Your Car Mean?

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New Vehicles Have More Dashboard Symbols Than Ever

With each passing year, cars get outfitted with more technology. While that's a blessing from the standpoint of making driving safer and more enjoyable, it also means modern dashboards are considerably more cluttered with indicator lights than they used to be. What's more, some lights indicate that a system is active and operating correctly, whereas others signal some kind of problem. Overall, it can be a little overwhelming.

We've put together this slideshow to explain what many of these icons mean. For information specific to your vehicle, you should consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

If a light comes on while you’re driving – and you can’t remember what it means – the color will help you determine its urgency. In general, an indicator that lights up red means there’s a problem that needs your immediate attention, and it may be unsafe to continue driving. A yellow or amber light generally means you need to have something checked out soon, but it’s not urgent. Depending on the indicator, it may also be letting you know that a system is working as intended. One example would be your traction control system flickering amber when it’s helping you traverse a slippery road. Green indicators let you know a system or feature is on and working.

With that in mind, read on to see the most common – and a few less-common – dashboard light symbols, and what they mean.

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