Do you understand all the lights on your dashboard?

Most of us only look at speed and fuel – and when anything else lights up on the dashboard of our cars, we either ignore it, hoping it will go away, or panic.


These days, the dashboard indicators can be complex – more expensive models with added features have even more indicators on the dashboard – so it’s no wonder that it appears confusing. The average car has around 25 dashboard indicators – while more expensive models such as Mercedes Benz can have more than 40. The more complex the vehicle, the more potential there is for serious mechanical or electronic damage.


The first thing to know is that the colour of the indicator will indicate the seriousness of the issue – red, orange, blue/white/green. If the indicator is red or orange – pull over immediately and consult your car’s manual. Red will indicate a problem that might cause damage to your vehicle if you continue to drive – and you will need to obtain immediate assistance. Orange is a warning indicator that means that you can continue to drive but need to seek assistance at the earliest opportunity. Blue/white or green indicators are informational, and may indicate when something is either switched on or functioning automatically.


Here is a list of common car warning lights:


  • Front Fog light on (can also be green)
  • Power steering fluid low
  • Rear fog light on
  • Windscreen washer fluid low
  • Brake pad warning
  • Cruise control on
  • Direction indicators
  • Rain and light sensor problem
  • Winter driving mode
  • Information indicator
  • Glow plug/diesel pre heat warning
  • Frost warning
  • Ignition switch warning
  • Key not in vehicle
  • Key fob battery low
  • Distance warning (to car in front)
  • Press clutch pedal to start car
  • Press brake pedal
  • Steering lock warning
  • Highbeam headlights on


If, at any time, you are not sure what the problem is, call roadside assistance or your NRMA car service centre, or your car manufacturer for advice.