What These Warning Signs On Your SUV Actually Mean

By Carole 1 year ago

1. Oil Pressure Warning Light

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This oil can symbol indicates an issue with your car's oil pressure system.  You are either running low on oil or the oil pump isn't circulating enough fluid to lubricate the surfaces inside the engine.  Some car dashboards may display the word 'OIL' instead of this symbol.

2. Traction Control Malfunction Light

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This light shows that the vehicle’s traction control system may have a broken or damaged sensor or some other malfunction.  In some vehicles, the same control module operates the ABS and the traction control system.  This means that this dashboard light appears when there are problems with your ABS.

3. Tire Pressure Warning Light

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Also known as the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) symbol, this image indicates there is an issue with your tire pressure or the TPMS.  If the TPMS symbol is solid, the pressure in one or more of your tires is too low or too high. If the TPMS symbol starts flashing when you turn on your car and stays illuminated,  then there' a a problem with the sensors.

4. Engine Temperature Warning Light

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If you see this symbol pop up, your engine is overheating.  This is likely to do with your coolant (also called antifreeze) but it can happen for a variety of reasons.  Try turning off the a/c and turning the heater on, to re-distribute heat to the passenger compartment. If that doesn’t work, pull over as soon as it is safe and turn off the vehicle.

5. Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) Warning Light

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When you brake hard, like on slick roads, the ABS pulses the brakes.  This is to prevent your wheels from locking up.  If the ABS warning light is illuminated, it means that something is wrong with the system.  As this is such an important safety feature, have it checked out as soon as possible.

6. Traction Control Light

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This car symbol indicates that the vehicle’s traction control system is activated and NOT that there is an issue.  The traction control system uses your anti-lock brake system (ABS) to determine if one of the wheels is spinning faster than the others.  If it detects a wheel is slipping, it applies the brakes until the car regains traction, helpful if driving in rain or snow.

7. Battery Alert Light

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This light shows there is a problem with the vehicle’s charging system. Possible culprits could be a loose or damaged battery cable, a bad alternator or another electrical fault. You may notice your clock light fading or the headlights dimming.  In some cases, the car may not start at all.

8. Engine Warning Light (Check Engine Light)

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Your check engine light may appear for a variety of reasons.  It can be triggered by an open, loose or cracked gas cap, which causes fuel to evaporate.  Sometimes it indicates a serious issue such as low oil pressure or overheating!  Some dashboards will display 'CHECK ENGINE' as opposed to the symbol.

9. Low Fuel Indicator Light

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You are sure to be familiar with this dashboard light which simply means your vehicle is running low on gas. Don't push your luck and hope you'll be ok until the next time you use your car.  Get to the next gas station and fill up or you could end up being stranded until you receive assistance.

10. Automatic Shift Lock Or Engine Start Indicator Light

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If you see this dashboard symbol, you are most likely trying to shift gears or start your ignition before engaging the brake. The automatic shift lock will lock your vehicle in neutral or park until you engage the brake. Press the brake pedal, then shift gears or start the ignition, whichever you are wanting to do.

11. Airbag Indicator Light

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The airbag warning light signals there is something is wrong with one of your airbags or the whole airbag system. You should get your car checked out straight away  Your car’s airbags keep you safe during accidents, so it’s really important to make sure they are working properly.

12. Security Indicator Light

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If your vehicle has an anti-theft system, then this symbol will blink steadily when the security system is armed. If it's solid and the car will not start then the immobilization system has activated due to a malfunction. If it is solid and the car is running normally, then the security system is faulty and needs to be fixed.

13. Fog Lamp Indicator Light

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This symbol shows that your fog lights are on.  Fog lights should only be used if your visibility is less than 100 yards. If you turn them on unnecessarily, they can actually be a hazard and make it difficult for other drivers on the road to see because of the glare that the light gives off.

14. Seat Belt Reminder Light

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This car light symbol is simply to remind you or your passenger to fasten your seatbelts.  It is usually accompanied by a repetitive noise which doesn't stop until you buckle up.  As seat belts are responsible for saving 50% people from having serious crash related injuries, always wear yours.

15. Washer Fluid Indicator Light

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Imitating the motion that your windshield wipers make, this dashboard symbol indicates that you are low on windshield washer fluid.  The reservoir should be filled with fluid and kept topped up regularly.  Not being able to see through your windscreen and clean it can lead to accidents.

16. Brake Warning Light

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If you see this symbol on your dashboard or the actual word 'BRAKE' in red, then either the parking brake is engaged or there is a problem with your braking system. Firstly, stop and check to see if the parking brake is engaged. Try setting and releasing the brake while your vehicle is in park. If the light is still on, when the parking brake is unengaged, get your car towed to the nearest auto station.

17. Lane Departure Warning Light

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Most cars produced today come with a lane departure warning safety feature. It will activate a light on your dashboard and make a beeping noise when it detects that your vehicle is drifting out of your lane.  This will allow you to correct your steering, if needed. The light may come on when you are changing lanes purposely.

18. Transmission Temperature Warning Light

Image source / Vehicle Freak
If this symbol appears on your dashboard, it means that your transmission is overheating. This could be caused by low transmission fluid, worn parts, heavy towing or something else.  You should pull over when it's safe and turn the vehicle off.  Wait for it to cool down and arrange a repair.

19. Rear Window Defrost

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This symbol looks like an aerial view of snakes slithering through windows into your home!  It shows the rear window defroster is engaged so any condensation or ice should clear up swiftly.  If your defroster isn't working, for whatever reason, get it sorted as, not being able to see out the back, is classed as unsafe driving.

20. Air Suspension Warning

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When your bass is so loud that  your car bounces up and down, then there's a problem with the vehicle's air suspension system.  This includes the inflatable bags meant to make the ride smoother.  All warning signs, whether red or amber, like this one, should not be ignored.

21. Cruise Control Indictor

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A dashboard symbol that lights up and looks like a sundial at 10 o'clock, means that you have turned on cruise control.  When the light is orange, it is waiting for you to set the preferred speed. When it turns green, that means you are traveling at that speed.  This function ensures you are keeping to the speed limit.

22. Lamp Out Warning

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This dashboard symbol looks like a shiny gold Olympic medal!  Nowhere near as exciting, it indicates that one of the car's lamps has burned out.  This could be the headlight, tail light or other exterior light. Simple to rectify - purchase a bulb and replace the faulty one, to avoid getting a ticket.

23. Car Vehicle Door Open

Image source / DriveSmart 
If this shows up on your dashboard, it's to tell you that one of your car doors is not closed properly.  You may have left it slightly ajar by accident or pushed it and it hasn't closed properly.   Either way, you can easily rectify this and avoid any possible mishaps  such as something or someone falling out!

24. Power Steering

Image source / Monticello Auto Service
When this light shows, it means there is a problem with your power steering.  The steering wheel can go heavy and may make steering more difficult for you and could affect your driving ability when trying to park or take a tight manoeuvre.  Make sure to get this problem dealt with.

25. Steering Lock

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​The steering lock symbol only appears on the car's dashboard when the ignition is in the off position, the lock being engaged.  If you see it at any other time, then something isn't quite right with the vehicle and you need to book in at the auto repair shop for further investigation.

26. Ignition Lock

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This symbol could indicate an issue with the ignition switch or show that there is a problem with the key that you are using.  If the light comes on while you are driving, chances are that the key can no longer be verified so you will need to get the car checked out.

27. Hood

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If you have to wait until the hood symbol is lit up on the dashboard to let you know it is open, then it can be quite worrying that you didn't notice this before the warning!  You may have been checking the oil or water levels in the vehicle and forgot to bang the hood down with a bit of force.

28. Trunk

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This light, unsurprisingly,  turns on when the boot is not closed properly. Make sure the boot has been closed properly before setting off.  If you are transporting something bulky in the trunk of your vehicle and it won't fully close, don't attempt to drive off as you could end up wit a costly fine.

29. Yellow Signs

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Yellow signs are used anywhere that caution needs to be adhered to, especially physical hazards. This includes risks of falling, tripping, getting burned, being caught in a pinch point or experiencing hearing damage, as well as any other common hazard that may be present.

30. Red Signs

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Always remember that red means STOP!  If a dashboard car warning light comes on when you are driving, don't panic.  Look at the color of the lighted symbol and if it is red, then there's a safety issue or something seriously wrong with your car.  Don't put it off in the hope it will go away.

31. And Now... Top Tips All SUV Drivers Should Know! Practice Driving In Open Spaces

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If this is your first SUV, you'll quickly learn that handling an SUV is very different to handling a smaller car - and because you don't have driving lessons for SUVs specifically, you're going to have practice in open, clear spaces to get used to handling a bigger vehicle.

32. Be Extra Careful With Other Drivers And Pedestrians

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When you're driving an SUV, the great news for you is that you're higher up so you have better visibility. But this isn't the case for those around you. You being higher up means other drivers in smaller cars, and pedestrians, can't easily see what you're doing, so be sure to be extra careful, give extra braking time and don't forget those turn signals!

33. Angle Your Side Mirrors Further Out

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Because your SUV is a bigger vehicle, with a longer width, you might need to position your side mirrors further out to give you more visibility and cover those blind spots. Because you have a bigger vehicle, it's key to check your side mirrors more often than you would in a smaller vehicle.

34. SUVs Have A Higher Risk Of Rolling Over

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Because SUVs are taller and larger, there's a much higher risk of having a rollover accident if you make a sudden turn or jerk your steering wheel too quickly. Sometimes, if other drivers are at fault, it's hard not to make a sudden swerve, but just be extra cautious - and make sure you're buckled in!

35. Most SUVs Need A Greater Braking Distance

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Braking distances aren't always the same for different vehicles, and if you've only ever been driver smaller cars, you'll need to get used to leaving a larger braking distance in your SUV. A lot of SUVs have anti-lock brakes, which is very helpful, and you should practice using them.

36. Get Used To Defensive Driving

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Defensive driving techniques are even more important when you're driving a larger vehicle, so pay more attention to your speed, make sure you're not tailgating anyone, keep your hands firmly on the wheel and always check your mirrors for cyclists and pedestrians around you.

37. Check Your SUV's Tire Pressure Every Month

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Blowout accidents can happen in SUVs if you're not checking the pressure regularly, and it's even more important because of the extra weight on your tires - so make sure you're checking tire pressure every month. This is even more important in cold weather.

38. Drive Slower If Your Car Is Full

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If you're going on a road trip with family or friends and you have a full car, it's important to go even slower in your SUV! This is because more people will raise the center of gravity in your vehicle, which means you'll have less distance to slow down to avoid an accident.

39. Rotate Your Tires For Better Performance

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To get the most out of your SUV driving, you should try to rotate your tires regularly (such as switching the front tires to the back and vice versa). This helps your tires to maintain a matching pressure, as well as helping to improve your SUV's performance on the road.

40. Save An Emergency Car Fund

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For all the benefits of driving an SUV also comes the expense of it - after all, driving an SUV is not a cheap option, and all the parts, maintenance - as well as gas money - are going to come in a lot more expensive than smaller cars. Having an emergency savings pot will help keep your car on the road!

41. Or At Least Get A Good Maintenance Contract

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If you don't have a car savings pot, or you don't want one, at the very least paying monthly for a maintenance contract will help you to keep your SUV in tip top shape on a regular basis, without paying out a huge bill all at once. Keeping up with your service visits will help.

42. Don't Ignore Your Warning Lights

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We've spoken about all the SUV warning lights in this article, so now you're better prepared. But it's important never to delay getting your car checked out after a warning light has come on. It's easy to ignore the light for a while if it's not an urgent emergency one, but the longer you leave it, the worse it could get.

43. Oil And Fluid Levels Make All The Difference

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Set a reminder on your phone if you have to about when you're due to check your SUV's oil and fluid levels - this will make all the difference to your car's lifespan and performance. Get to know how to manually check your SUV's levels so you don't have to wait for a garage to do it every time.

44. Keep Your SUV Clean

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Not only for aesthetic purposes - because an SUV is a great car to show off, so you'll want it looking spotless all the time! - but also because of the size of the vehicle. Because you need extra visibility whilst driving your SUV to be able to see, keeping windows and mirrors clean is a must!

45. Get An SUV With A Parking Camera (Or Buy One)

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SUVs can be very cumbersome in tight parking lots, and very difficult to park in spaces due to the lack of visibility. Parking cameras, or at the very least parking sensors, are a great investment for building your confidence for parking your SUV or navigating busy parking lots!

46. Take Care Of Dogs And Children When Parking In Your Neighborhood

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An SUV driver's worst nightmare, because of the height of the car and lack of visibility, can be packing up in a crowded neighborhood when you have no hope of seeing children or pets behind your vehicle - whether your own kids and pets, or someone elses. So you'll need extra care!

47. Reduce Speed More Than You Normally Would For Tight Corners!

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If this is your first SUV, it's going to need a bigger speed reduction when taking tight corners because of the bulk and size of the car. So always make sure to slow down more than you normally would in a small, standard vehicle for those very tight corners, to avoid drifting.

48. Watch For Curbs!

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This can be near impossible for SUV drivers when they're so high up, but try your best anyway - this is because hitting a curb can actually be one of the biggest causes for SUV drivers to suffer a rollover, especially at higher speeds (understandably). So watch for those curbs!

49. You Might Not Want A Luggage Rack For Your SUV

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If you're using your car to fill up with luggage for a vacation or trip, you might want to consider putting it on the backseat, on the floor in the back, or in the trunk, rather than a luggage rack on the roof. This is because your SUV is already so top-heavy that extra weight on top can throw it off balance in an accident.

50. Don't Panic Over Tiny Mistakes

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We all know the stress of missing a freeway turn or making the wrong exit at a roundabout, and sometimes the knee-jerk reaction can be to swerve or try and correct it quickly. Doing sudden panic movements in an SUV will increase the likelihood of toppling, so keep it smooth!

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