What do OBD/Car Dashboard Symbols Mean?

Posted by Leighton Maddison on

There are multiple different warning light symbols and signs in modern day cars. So many in fact that it can feel like an entirely new language. Due to the advancements in technologies, cars have now far greater onboard control systems and as a result, have a much greater range of dashboard symbols that can often send any driver into a whirl of confusion when they appear

Thankfully, we’re about to make things a whole lot clearer by showing you a selection of what some of these OBD and car dashboard symbols mean, beginning with the Engine/Check Engine Warning Light.

Engine/Check Engine Warning Light

This symbol shows the driver there is a problem with the engine itself. The light will appear when there’s a trouble code in the engine control unit. You can find this sign in the form of an engine shaped icon or as informational text telling you to ‘check engine’.

The seriousness of a check engine light can range from mild to both severe. If the problem isn’t serious, which any OBD tool will tell you, you’ll be able to continue driving it. If it’s serious however, it’s likely you’ll need to seek help immediately from a local mechanic. CHECK OUT OUR OBD2 SCANNERS

Service Engine Soon Warning Light

This ‘service engine soon’ light can have a lot of different meanings, much like the engine warning light. In most cars, this will depict a minor problem, being merely a warning to alert you that you’re due a service, such as an oil replacement.

 It’s worth noting however, that without reading the trouble codes using an OBD scanner tool, you may be ignoring a more serious fault that needs fixing asap. 

Battery/Alternator Charging Warning Sign

This light indicates to the driver that a low voltage has been detected. This light should only be on when you’re just starting the ignition. If it remains on, when idle or driving then you have an issue.

It means the alternator isn’t charging the battery properly and the vehicle may cut out at any moment. If your car battery isn’t getting the charge it needs then ultimately, your car will not be able to start again without some form of external power source. CHECK OUT OUR BMS TOOLS

ABS/Brake Control Warning Light

This light means there’s a problem with the ABS otherwise known as the anti-lock braking system. If this light is on then the ABS function is disabled.

The whole point of ABS is to ensure that when you brake suddenly, you don’t accidentally lock all four wheels at the same time as this prevents you from steering or controlling your car. When this light’s on, it needs looking at as soon as possible. CHECK OUT OUR ABS TOOLS

Airbag/SRS Warning Dashboard Light

This light indicates a problem with your airbag or SRS control system. When the light’s on, the airbag control system is disabled. You won’t have airbags to save you in the event of an accident.

As soon as you see this light appear, we recommend getting your vehicle looked at and repaired immediately. While you won’t cause more damage by continuing to drive, you will be bringing significant risk to yourself. CHECK OUT OUR AIRBAG TOOLS

Contact LJM Car Diagnostics Today

 If you’d like help discussing any dashboard lights you may not be familiar with, or better still, selecting the right OBD2 scanner for you and your vehicle, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. We’ll be only too happy to help you find the right tool for your budget and your vehicle.


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