The warning lights we will be discussing in this article have to do with the safety features of current and newer vehicles and may not apply to every vehicle that is being driven on the road. One thing to be aware of is that warning lights come in red or amber. The red color light usually indicates that more immediate attention is required and the amber lights indicate a system malfunction that needs to be addressed but is not as immediate. Green and blue light indicators on your dash usually indicate a system being activated, like cruise control.

Brake Indicator Light

The Brake Light Indicator is usually red and says “brake” it is typically an indicator that the park brake is applied, however it can also indicate low brake fluid level. If this light comes on, you should check your parking brake first. If it is unapplied, the vehicle should be checked out immediately. We would recommend having it towed. Low fluid level can cause your brakes not to function properly and can make driving the vehicle unsafe. Low fluid level can indicate worn brakes or a brake fluid leak in the brake system.

ABS Indicator Light

The ABS Indicator Light is for the Anti-Lock Braking System of your vehicle, it says “ABS” on your dash in an amber color. If the light stays illuminated, this indicates that there is a malfunction in the ABS system. When the light is on, the ABS system of your vehicle will be disabled and will not operate in a slippery surface or panic stop situation. The conventional brake system of your vehicle will still work. If both the ABS light and Brake light are on we again recommend having your vehicle towed to your trusted repair facility to have your vehicle’s entire brake system inspected.

Traction Control Light

The Traction Control Light is a little newer system but is becoming a standard function on today’s vehicles. The indicator light is amber and shows a car in a triangle with 2 squiggly lines behind it. When this light comes on it is because one or more of your wheels is spinning at a faster rate due to loss of traction. The system’s sensors will indicate this and will automatically apply braking to the wheel(s) that needs to slow down and get back in sync with the others. When the Traction Control Light illuminates, you will know this system is in effect and that you should probably slow down a little.

The next article will cover warning lights that have to do with the operation of your charging/starting system and some of the fluid temperatures in your vehicle.

Steve and Karen Johnston are owners of All About Automotive, providing auto repair and auto maintenance in Historic Downtown Gresham. If you have questions or comments, call them at 503-465-2926 or email them at [email protected].


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