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Malfunction Indicators

Malfunction lights and gauges act as problem or potential problem indicator. They communicate important information from your vehicle’s computer system and should never be ignored.

Check Engine Indicator. The check engine light, service engine soon light, or icon resembling an engine illuminates if the PCM detects an emission system or engine performance problem, triggered by sensors. It could be anything from a loose gas cap to a failing catalytic converter to an engine misfire. Check the gas cap first. Some vehicles even have a special check fuel cap light. A check engine light that stays on steady is a sign that a technician’s service is needed soon. Under most conditions you can still drive the vehicle. However, the longer you drive it the more damage you could cause, along with emitting additional pollution. A blinking light is a sign of a serious problem, so check the owner’s manual. The manufacturer may suggest having the vehicle towed in for repair. In the future, new OBD systems may transmit a signal to a highway monitor to enforce emissions compliance.

Low Fuel Indicator. When the low fuel light turns on a vehicle may have only a gallon of fuel left, but it depends on the vehicle. It is best to refuel before this light comes on.

Oil Pressure Indicator. Do not drive your vehicle if the oil pressure light is illuminated. Low oil pressure can cause immediate engine damage. Check your oil level and add if low. If the light still does not go off, have the vehicle towed to a service facility.

Charging System Indicator. The charging system light indicates that the battery is not being recharged. This does not necessarily mean that the battery is malfunctioning. The problem may be another part of the charging system, such as the alternator.

Coolant Temperature Indicator. If the coolant temperature exceeds the normal operating range a warning light will come on or the indicator on a gauge will move to the red area. Pull your vehicle over and allow the engine to cool. Serious engine damage could result from driving an overheated engine.

Brake Warning Indicator. If the brake light is on and the parking brake is not engaged, check the brake fluid level. If the fluid level is fine, have a technician inspect the system.

Antilock Brake System Indicator. If the ABS light comes on have a technician check for diagnostic error codes and inspect the brake system. The conventional part of the brake system will still be operational.