Have you ever been driving along down the road and noticed one of your dashboard lights being illuminated? Modern vehicles are extremely complex machines that give us the ability to get to where we need to go in a quick, efficient, easy manner. But, just like with any piece of technology, maintenance is required to prolong effectiveness. Dashboard lights are there to let you know that your attention is required.

Oil pressure

When your car is having troubles with oil pressure, you will see an image of something that looks like an oil can.

If you ever see this light illuminated, it typically means that your car has low engine oil pressure. Low oil pressure can have several causes, but the best situation you can find yourself in is if it means that your car is low on oil. Pull over to the side of the road and check your engine’s dipstick if you have one. If you have a more modern car, you probably won’t have to do this since most modern cars are now equipped with check oil programs.

When the oil light is lit, it’s probably an indication that the internal parts of your car are not being sufficiently lubricated. It’s best to not drive your car when this light is on. If you do, you’re potentially looking at significant damage to your engine and costly repairs.

Tire Pressure

This symbol looks like this: (!)

Your tire pressure light is triggered by your car’s tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). This let’s your know when your tire is in need of air. When a tire is low on air, your car’s gas mileage may be significantly impacted. And, whenever you drive a car with a tire that is in need of air, what you’re really doing is wearing out your tire faster than it needs to be. This will cause you to need to spend more money on new tires. Newer cars may have a built-in system that allows you to read the pressure of each tire. You should always refer to your car’s owner’s manual to see the proper tire pressure that is suggested for your car. It’s important to keep in mind that tire pressure can also be affected by cold weather, so if your light is on, the situation may not be as dire as you might initially believe. Any time you see this light on, address the issue immediately.

Coolant Temperature

When you see symbol lit up, it means that your car’s engine is overheating. When the coolant temperature gets too high, it most oftentimes means that something is wrong with one of the cooling system components. It may be an issue with your fan, radiator, thermostat, water pumps, hoses and coolant.

Driving your car when it’s overheating can be dangerous. Doing so can cause serious and permanent damage to your car’s engine. If you’re ever in need of a tow, ERIE has an Emergency Roadside Service coverage that can be added to your auto insurance policy for about $5 per vehicle per year. If you have questions about this, give us a call at 301-948-2010 and ask to speak with one of our experience insurance professionals.

Traction Control

You’ll see an outline of a car with two squiggly tire track lines behind it.

If you see this light illuminated, it’s best to take your car to an experienced mechanic as soon as you can. It means that your car’s stability control is off or has failed. It can be dangerous to drive your car in these conditions.

Check Engine

On some vehicles, you’ll see a symbol that looks like a car engine. Other cars may simply have the words “CHECK ENGINE”.

When this light is illuminated, it means that there is something wrong with your vehicle’s motor or emissions system. You could have a major mechanical issue on your hands or it could be something as minor as a loose cap. Get to a service garage as soon as possible when you see this.


This symbol looks like a battery in the shape of a box that has a “+” and “-“ sign.

When you see this, it means there is a problem with your car’s electrical system. Your battery could be defective or it means that your car’s alternator is no longer working properly. This means that, as you drive, your battery is not being recharged. Ignoring this problem instead of taking your car to a repair shop could end up leaving you stranded on the side of the road.

Low Fuel

This symbol looks like the outline of a gas pump.

Whenever this symbol is illuminated, it’s an indication that you need to get yourself to a gas station quickly.


This symbol looks like a person sitting in a car with a large ball in front of their head.

If you see this symbol lit, it means that your car’s internal system has detected a problem with the passenger safety system. Whenever you drive your car, you want to make sure that your safety systems are functioning properly, so that in the event of an accident, you’ll remain safe.

Washer Fluid

This symbol looks like a windshield with a stream of water spraying in an upward direction.

Whenever you see this symbol illuminated, it means that your windshield wiper fluid reservoir is low or empty. Wiper fluid is usually available for purchase at any gas station or auto repair shop.

Brake System

While some vehicles will show a symbol of a what looks like a circle with parentheses on either side, others simply display the word “BRAKE”.

There is a problem with your car’s braking system. It’s not safe to drive your car under these conditions since you never know when your brakes may fail and cause a serious accident.

Anti-Lock (ABS) System

This symbol looks like this: (ABS)

If this light is illuminated, it means there is a problem with your car’s anti-lock brake system. This system is designed to prevent your wheels from locking up under a hard stop. Usually, when this light is lit, it means you’ll need to replace your ABS sensor. This is an important safety feature to have functioning properly, so that you can remain as safe as possible behind the wheel.


This symbol is a gear icon with an exclamation point or a thermometer in the center.

When this light is illuminated, it means there’s a problem with your vehicle’s transmission. Your transmission could be overheating or a sensor has recorded a mechanical issue. In either case, it’s best to get your vehicle to a mechanic right away.