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Why you must not drive when an important dash light is showing

At Bryan Swales Auto Repairs we’re very keen to keep you on the road in a car you can trust. The Bryan Swales Auto Repairs technical team specialise in technical diagnosis so we’ve put together this quick 3 minute read to answer that all-important question.

“I’ve got a light on. Can I continue to drive my car or do I need a garage?”

Modern cars are packed with electronics and sensors that monitor how a vehicle behaves and are aimed at making motoring easier and safer.

When something goes wrong, however, it’s not always obvious why a warning light starts to show and what it’s trying to say.

This is why it’s important to know what the car dashboard warning lights mean. Not only can this preempt a car breaking down and possibly even a complete failure, but it also can potentially save you from expensive repair bills and keep you safer on the road.

The engine warning light

When your engine warning light comes on there may well be accompanying symptoms like a loss of power, as the car effectively goes into a ‘safe’ mode or an intermittent stuttering when the accelerator is pressed, caused by a misfire.

Sometimes the problem can be caused by something as small as a fault with an electrical sensor, but it can also be triggered by a larger mechanical problem. When the car’s engine warning light shows, rather than risk driving around and causing further damage, get a professional mechanic to have a diagnostic look straight away. 

Which lights matter the most?

They’re all important really, but we’ve outlined the most common ones that we see in our garage below.

The dashboard lights you really can’t afford to ignore are:

Brake system/brake fluid warning light

A vehicle’s brakes are crucial features, so when a warning light comes on, it’s best to get the braking system checked immediately.

If it’s the Anti Lock Braking System (ABS) lamp that indicates a fault, the car’s braking distance may be affected. ABS is there to help cars avoid skidding and to enable drivers to steer while braking. A warning tells you to have the car checked.

Power steering/EPAS warning light

When a car’s power steering warning light is illuminated it indicates something could be wrong with the steering.

If this is the case, the car could become heavy to manoeuvre, requiring more effort to make the vehicle change direction. This is an annoyance at low speed but poses a big risk at higher speeds.

 Get to a safe place as soon as and as safely as possible and call for help.

Airbag warning light

Airbags are not an optional extra. Their invention marked a major step forward in motoring safety. Faulty airbags potentially won’t be able to perform in a crash, putting you and any passengers at risk of injuries. Another danger is that the vehicle’s airbag could deploy when it’s least expected, which can cause injuries.

Oil warning light

The oil warning light can flash up when the oil’s temperature is too high. Alternatively, it could be an indication that the level is low or the oil pressure is not as it should be. These latter two are the ones that need to be avoided.

It may be caused by insufficient oil or there may be something mechanical that has failed. If you don’t pull over where it’s safe to do so, the engine could fail completely, causing even more serious damage.

Oil lubricates the engine, and if the oil warning light is illuminated it could warn that the effectiveness of the oil is reduced or lost altogether.

Coolant warning light

When a car is driven without coolant, the engine can get so hot it seizes. When the coolant light shows on your dashboard, it may mean the coolant level is running low. Alternatively, it may be an indication that the power unit is exceeding its maximum temperature.

It could also be a sign of a bigger problem, such as head gasket failure, or a symptom of something less important, like a system leak. Whatever it is, it’s important to have it seen to as soon as possible to avoid any additional expensive repairs.

When any lights on your dash come on, it’s a good idea to get any problems checked out. It may be something minor like a faulty sensor or broken wire, but it could too easily be more serious. 

At Bryan Swales Auto Repairs, we offer regular servicing and maintenance to help protect your car, so call us today if you have a problem. We want to help keep you safe and on the road.

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