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What Do the Lights on Your Car Dashboard Mean?

We’ve all been there, driving along and a light pops up on your dashboard. The panic sets in and you don’t know whether to test your luck and keep driving, or pull over and call for roadside assistance.

That’s why we came up with this handy guide to help quell the panic and explain the most common dashboard lights that tend to pop up.

Fair warning, while dashboard lights might be universal, their design isn’t – so if none of these look familiar, refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for more information.

Tire Pressure:
This is the least worrisome and most familiar light of them all – the tire pressure light. This one usually pops up on one of two occasions:
1. You guessed it, when your tires are low on pressure and need a little extra boost
2. When you’ve popped a tire.

Keeping your tires properly inflated helps you save money in the long run as they can improve your gas mileage up to 3%.

Traction control:
You’ll see this one a lot if you’re traveling on slippery roads. Really, all this means is that your car’s anti-slip measures or electronic stability system is in use. Most vehicles will have an option to turn this feature off – which is especially useful when you’re stuck in a snowbank (speaking from personal experience here).

Check Engine:
We know, this is the scary one. But don’t freak out as there are a number of reasons why this light could be going off. Sometimes it’s as simple as tightening your gas cap, other times it’s because an important part of the engine needs replacing. This isn’t one to ignore, so if you’ve tightened your gas cap and your light is still on, we suggest making an appointment ASAP to get your engine checked.

Temperature warning:
Two scary lights in a row. We’re crazy for mentioning them right? No need to panic. Deep breaths. This one really just means that your vehicle’s temperature is too hot. Whether it’s as simple as topping off your coolant levels or checking the radiator cap, make an appointment with your mechanic to make sure that there is nothing greater at play.

Battery warning:
This one typically indicates that your vehicle’s voltage is below normal and means your vehicle’s charging system isn’t working correctly. You might just need a new battery, but play it safe and give your repair shop a call to verify.

Too bad there isn’t a dashboard light to remind you to review your car insurance coverage! If you haven’t checked to make sure you have the right coverage for your insurance needs lately, contact your local Independent Agent or you can always get a fast, free quote today to see if you could save on your home and auto insurance in Massachusetts.

Please Note: This content is not intended to describe any specific coverage offered by MAPFRE Insurance. No coverage is provided, bound or guaranteed by this article. Available coverages, credits and discounts vary from state to state and are subject to eligibility criteria and policy terms/conditions, which will control in the event of conflict between this article and your insurance policy. For information about your policy, please review your individual policy contract and speak with your insurance representative.

MAPFRE Insurance® is a brand and service mark of MAPFRE U.S.A. Corp. and its affiliates, including American Commerce Insurance CompanySM (Cal. COA 4928-8), Citation Insurance CompanySM, The Commerce Insurance CompanySM, Commerce West Insurance CompanySM (Cal. COA 1372-2), MAPFRE Insurance CompanySM (Cal. COA 3039-5), and MAPFRE Insurance Company of FloridaSM.


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