Dashboard warning lights

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With all its flashing lights, colours and symbols, the instrument cluster can be one of the most confusing parts of a car to the average driver. While most are familiar with common icons like the turn signal arrows or windshield defroster, there are a plethora of hidden indicators, some only making an appearance when there is a potential issue with the vehicle. Let’s go through a handful you may encounter from time-to-time.

Check engine

Ah, the dreaded CEL. This little warning shaped like a little engine means the computer has detected an error with the car’s emission system. Before you visit the shop, check if the gas cap is loose (or hopefully not missing) and restart the motor after tightening to see whether it goes away. If the CEL is blinking, the problem is more serious and requires immediate attention.

Tire pressure monitor

The icon that looks like a horseshoe with teeth and an exclamation mark in the middle suggests the air pressure in one of your tires is significantly lower than recommended. Inspect the offending tire for any damage before refilling with air.

Traction control

This symbol has two versions: one is a car with squiggly tire marks underneath and the other is the same with the word “off