Five Vehicle Warning Lights You Shouldn’t Ignore
They light up your dashboard and, every now and then, they might even ding a few times. When it happens, you give it a quick glance and make a mental note to check into it when you’ve got a few spare moments and extra dollars. But on you drive, for miles and miles and days and days and maybe even weeks and weeks without ever giving that persistently illuminating button another thought. And then, you end up in the mechanic’s shop, feigning surprise and swearing that the light JUST came on yesterday.
Well, your mechanic ain’t buyin’ it. But one thing’s for sure – you’re paying for it. To help you dodge such a scenario, here’s a few tips on warning lights you shouldn’t ignore.
Low Tire Pressure: By the time most tire pressure monitoring systems send out the alert, your tires likely have been running low for a while. In fact, that warning ping typically happens once your tire pressure dips at least 25 percent below the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation – and well below the pressure required for safe driving. Lot tire pressure boosts the risk of a tire blowout, which easily can cause an accident. It also makes it tougher to steer your car and brake quickly, and drags down your fuel efficiency.
Low Battery: Batteries typically last for four to five years, depending upon how much you drive and your local climate. Live in a coastal area? Got a long daily commute to and from work? Your battery switch may happen in closer to three years. In any case, once your low battery light illuminates, it’s highly recommended that you get yourself a new one within the next few days, or you may find yourself paying a towing fee.
Oil Pressure: Your car’s engine is its heart – literally. So it’s critical that all of its internal components are properly cooled, lubricated and working smoothly. And that only happens when your engine’s oil pressure is adequate. If you’re due an oil change, get one -pronto. Can’t get to it right away? Use the dipstick to top off your oil. While too little oil can fry your engine, using too much oil can cause damage as well.
Temperature: A temperature warning light typically means your car has a coolant leak, a bad water pump or a faulty thermostat. Any of those can lead to your engine overheating. And that can wreak all sorts of havoc, including warped metal components and blown gaskets. Now, you’re looking at thousands of dollars in engine repair or replacement costs. If your temp warning light comes on, pull over immediately and arrange for a tow to the nearest mechanic’s shop.
Brake Fluid: This one perhaps trumps all others vehicle warning lights when it comes to safety. Your brake fluid warning light can be an indication that you’ve got a leak or some other problem that will keep you from being able to stop your vehicle quickly – or at all. Clearly, this could have serious implications. When this light turns on, head to your mechanic’s shop immediately.
Not sure what these warning lights look like? No shame. A recent survey shows that some 43 percent of vehicle owners nationwide haven’t a clue what the low tire pressure warning light is. If that’s the case, grab your auto owner’s manual and study up.