“I Saw The Light” – A Guide to Decoding Car Service Lights (Part 1)
Most drivers have the same reaction to seeing a car service lights up their dashboard – a sigh, eye roll, and possibly an expletive. You instantly come to the unfortunate realization that your day is no longer going to go as planned. However, although they bring inconvenience, service lights are actually a driver’s best friend. They alert us that something is not right with our vehicles and in turn keep our passengers, our cars, and ourselves safe.
Unfortunately, covering up these lights with black tape will not make them go away. On the other hand, failure to properly interpret a certain light could lead to more trouble. Your friends at Marlow Automotive wants to make sure that all drivers understand what each warning lamp means and what to do in each case. Here are the most common car warning symbols decoded.
Anti-Lock Brake System Light: Requires Maintenance
The ABS warning light indicates that your vehicle’s anti-brake system is not functioning properly. This can be triggered by anything from a defective or grimy wheel speed sensor to low levels of fluid in the ABS reservoir. Whatever the cause of the malfunction, it will be recognized by your car’s computer system, which will light up the ABS symbol on your dashboard to communicate to you that there is a problem.
What is the Anti-Lock Brake?
Your car’s ABS is responsible for keeping your car from skidding or locking up during a sudden stop, especially when driving on wet or slippery roads. It does so by keeping tractive contact with the pavement, which allows you to have better control of your vehicle when you need it most.
What do I do when the ABS light turns on?
As soon as the anti-lock brake light is activated, your car’s ABS is disengaged and will not turn back on until you visit an auto repair shop for maintenance. If you don’t see any other lights on your dashboard, your basic brakes should be working fine. Drive your car to a Dallas mechanic, but keep in mind that your car may skid or lock up in the case of an accident.
If there are other system warnings lit up, it could mean that there is something wrong with your basic brake system. In this case, your vehicle is not safe to drive to a shop yourself. A faulty brake system could cause brake failure and risk your life and the lives of others. To be safe, have your car towed to the nearest shop. It may be helpful to call an auto maintenance shop first, as they may be able to tow it themselves.
Brake Light: Possibly Requires Brake Service
There are many issues that could lead to the activation of your vehicle’s brake light. In most cases, the parking brake is engaged. This is an easy fix, as it only requires manually releasing the brake. However, if the light is still on after fully disengaging the brake, there could be a more serious issue, such as the cases explained below.
What do car brakes do?
Anyone who has ever driven a vehicle knows that a car brake’s main function is to slow it down. While your foot is on the accelerator, your vehicle has kinetic energy. However, when you need to slow down or stop, your car requires thermal energy. Applying the brakes presses the brake pads or shoes against the brake drum and convert the kinetic energy to thermal energy through friction. The brakes cool and the vehicle slows down.
What do I do when the brake light is on?
As mentioned above, a brake light could simply be a reminder to the driver to release the parking brake. However, it could also be engaged by a lack of hydraulic pressure or low fluid level due to leaking – both of which are serious issues that require brake repair. Brake fluid leaks are especially hazardous as they could lead to brake failure and could infect other components of your vehicle’s brake system. If you’d like to attempt to drive to the closest shop, be sure to test out your brakes to see if you are able to stop. However, we highly recommend that for the safety of you, your passengers, and your fellow drivers on the road, you call for a tow. Brakes can be the difference between a fender bender and a dangerous collision. With a faulty brake system, they could be working fine at one moment only to fail moments later. Avoid the risk and have your vehicle towed to a shop for brake repair service.