Indiandrives car advisor – Part 2

As promised I am back with the second and hopefully last part of the details of the different warning icons lighting up on a car’s dashboard. On more advanced cars there are many more warning icons but then here I am only taking the normal cars which every Tom, Dick and Harry uses. Going by the response gauged for the previous article, I think that it is beneficial. Here’s hoping that this article would also be as informative as the old one.

Service Reminder :

Considering the fact that most car owners fail to get their car serviced on time leading to future problems, manufacturers have come up with an innovative solution to it. The solution is a warning lamp glowing up on the dashboard warning the driver that the car needs service. This service reminder is automatically set up and works according to the kilometers logged in the odo. Additionally, if the car’s ECU senses that the car has got a clogged air filter or some other problem, the service needed warning lamp lights up. After the service, the technician at the service center would turn it off. The Bentley Mulsanne that we checked out at the Surat Show shows up a service needed alert to the driver as also the service technicians at Bentley service center. The technician then contacts the owner ask him or her the best time when the he can come over to the owner’s place to service the car.

Low Fuel :

I was reminded of this alert icon on the dashboard when we were on our way to the Surat Auto Show and the fuel indicator in the Toyota Innova that we were traveling in, gave a glowing fuel pump icon. When the fuel level drops down to reserve, this icon flashes up. Although most vehicles like our Innova will cruise to a fair distance before coming to a complete halt, it is advisable to fill fuel at the nearest pump before proceeding ahead. This is done so that the fuel tank doesn’t catch air and then later on air would have to be sucked out before the vehicle can actually start up again.

Fog Lamps :

In poor visibility conditions, the fog lamps are used to light the roads. In these modern times, cars come equipped with fog lamps. On the dashboard, a small Diwali like lamp which has been rotated horizontally signifies that the fog lamps are on. It is advisable to use fog lamps only when the visibility conditions are very poor. After use, do remember to turn them off as even they suck battery power.

Washer Fluid :

This icon rarely flashes and is usually not available in most of the cars. Once the windscreen washer levels plummet down, this icon lights up. Always remember to top up the windscreen washer fluid as driving with a dirty windscreen not only looks bad but also affects visibility big time thereby leading to accidents. Windscreen washer fluid is preferred instead of plain water as water tends to leave swirl marks on the windscreen whereas the washer fluid won’t leave any marks.

Low Tyre Pressure :

This warning icon comes up when the car detects that one of the tyre is more than 25 percent underinflated. Tyre pressure monitoring systems are provided in high end cars and reduce the risk of tyre blowout by warning the driver of low pressure in the tyres. Low pressure in the tyre of the car can cause handling issues, uneven braking, pulling to one side and also reduced fuel economy. If the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System or TPMS is on, do check the tyre pressure of your car before proceeding.

Airbag warning :

Most of the modern cars now come equipped with Airbags or atleast have them as options. If your car comes fitted with one, then it would have an aligned notification sign on the dashboard. Usually it doesn’t happen that an airbag or SRS warning light would show up on the dashboard, however, if it does then there might be a fault in the car’s airbag system. Every time the car is started, the airbag control module does run a check. If it detects a fault in the crash sensor, wiring or even in itself, then it triggers the warning code and then wouldn’t function. There would be no problems in driving the car but if there were an accident to occur, the airbags wouldn’t deploy and their primary purpose of saving lives is destroyed in the bargain.


The Electronic Stability Program or ESP is something which keeps a car in its intended path of motion, when the going goes rough. Every single time when the car is turned on, there would be an auto check done for the ESP. ESP can be switched off via a switch in the console. However once the system is turned on, the alert light would only flash when the ESP is in action.

Cruise Control :

Cruise control is now being offered as standard in most of the top end cars. Cruise Control essentially maintains a constant speed of the car without the driver having to keep his foot on the accelerator pedal. A lever would increase or decrease the speed limit that has been preset by the driver. Cruise control light would be displayed on the console once the system has been activated and the resulting notification would be a small speedometer icon with the pointer stuck at a particular speed. However when the driver touches the accelerator or brakes of the car, the cruise control is automatically deactivated.

Auto Brake :

This shouldn’t be confused with the automatic brake system coming in Volvo cars and should be more than associated with the automatic transmission cars. If you own an automatic car, then you would know that the brake pedal has to be pressed to slot the transmission into drive mode. This is indicated by a foot on the brake symbol on the dashboard. Accidental engagement of the gearbox while the engine is running is prevented by this feature. One can call it as a safety feature.

Steering :

Modern day car come equipped with a power steering. A power steering is something which reduces the steering effort for maneuvering a car. An electronic power steering is more preferred since it works only when the engine is running. Some cars like the Skoda Superb display a steering wheel on their console. If the light stays on permanently, then it means that the steering system isn’t working perfectly, that is if it stays amber. If it turns to red, then it means that the steering system has undergone a complete failure and would need the immediate attention of a service personnel.

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