Post created: 2 November 2022

All vehicle’s dashboards have a range of alerts (bells and whistles) which are by design able to indicate their own unique message. These range from a door that hasn’t been closed properly, to the one every motorist fears the most namely – check your engine light. Throughout this handy guide, we will explore the meaning behind each dashboard light, and the best way to resolve/correct it – with help from the AutoZone family – both customers and staff!

When starting up your vehicle, all of your system lights will briefly light up and then switch off – which is a sign that all of the systems are functioning as they should. It is important to keep an eye out for any of the indicators which fail to switch off. Careful inspection is required before starting your journey – as this indicates if there is an issue that needs to be resolved prior to your departure, almost like a pre-flight check.


Let’s get the most concerning one out the way first. The icon shown above is usually accompanied by a message on your vehicle’s dash that reads “CHECK ENGINE”. One of the reasons this icon causes drivers a lot of stress is due to the fact that the issue is not entirely specific – it could relate to anything from your vehicle’s motor having an internal problem or a simple loose wire/terminal effecting the system operation. If the check engine light stays illuminated while driving, it is highly recommended that you take your vehicle to your nearest mechanic/workshop for a comprehensive inspection – even if everything with your vehicle seems and sounds okay. If the light comes on when starting your vehicle and you become aware of an unusual noise, or your vehicle might even begin to perform erratically either – surging, spluttering or smoking, immediately pull over to a safe spot off the road and inspect the under-bonnet area. It might mean that your vehicle should be towed to your nearest workshop in order to avoid further engine damage.

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The reason for this icon appearing is fairly self-explanatory as it indicates there is an issue with your vehicle’s battery. In most instances, this is usually accompanied by failed attempts to start your vehicle (continuous cranking). However, there may be instances where the light is illuminated and your vehicle is able to start and drive as expected – this may indicate a long-term issue with the battery requiring replacements due to; age, service period, life span or potential issues with the vehicle’s wiring. The alternator/internal components or other electrical components may require replacement.

AutoZone stock a leading range of batteries to keep your vehicle running at its best! Shop yours online here – https://www.autozoneonline.co.za/


The icon shown above indicates and confirms that your vehicle is running at an unacceptable temperature, this could be as a result of a faulty operating water pump, poor condition of internal radiator cores, leaking or burst coolant hoses, broken fan belt, or even a faulty thermostat. It is highly advised to get your vehicle inspected if this icon is illuminated as it can result in serious issues that could extensively damage your engine – proving to be very costly to repair and creates unnecessary vehicle downtime.
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Referring to the internal components of your gearbox being worn or fatigued, your transmission temperature gauge may illuminate as a result of continuous heavy towing, low transmission fluid levels and /or as stated above excessive wear on the inner workings of your transmission. This scenario will require inspection and possible replacement.

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Should your oil pressure warning light appear, it could mean something as simple as topping up your vehicle’s oil level (low oil level), or it could be as a result of a serious oil leak – from the engine resulting in oil loss. Worn down or damaged internal components can also result in the warning light coming on indicating a problem, possibly a defective piston or piston rings, even a malfunctioning oil pump will result in a loss of pressure. To determine the severity, simply measure your engine oil level using the relevant dipstick ensuring that the level is on the F mark indicating full. Top up your oil if required and start your vehicle, let it idle for a minute or two, switch off and re-check the oil level. If the light stays off, you’ve solved the issue. However, if it remains on after topping up the oil levels, it is highly recommended that you take your vehicle to be inspected by a mechanic as soon as possible.

AutoZone produce an exclusive range of synthetic motor oils and most viscosity grades which will optimize and enhance engine protection and performance levels. Shop for your engines specification online today – https://autozone.co.za/store-locator/


Your tyre pressure monitoring system display light will appear if you are driving with either under or overinflated tyres – which by the way can be equally as dangerous. A common feature in vehicles today is their respective informing/monitoring systems which showcases the current tyre pressure required, and monitors the displayed continuous tyre pressure. 

AutoZone stock effective TyreWeld repair kits, which are almost a must for any vehicle’s boot. In times of an unfortunate puncture or slow leak, this puncture emergency repair kit will be vital to getting you to a safe location or garage where the flat wheel can be changed with the spare in the boot. 

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There are a number of reasons as to why your brake system icon would appear, ranging from pulling away with the parking hand brake still up (we’ve all been there), or more serious factors such as; worn below the limit brake pads, low brake fluid in the brake reservoir, or a problem with the anti-lock braking system (also known as your ABS). Given how important it is to stop your vehicle when needed or in an emergency, it is recommended that you get your vehicle seen to as soon as possible (brakes are a safety critical component).

AutoZone stock a comprehensive range of braking solutions from exclusive and leading brands! Purchase your required braking components via AutoZone Online today – https://www.autozoneonline.co.za/


It is important to note that your traction control icon will appear if and when the system itself is activated. This feature normally turns on when your vehicle is driving in hazardous conditions like heavy rain and snow, or even when the sensor picks up/registers a lack of required road contact. However, if you are driving at a moderate speed in good driving conditions during dry weather on a straight road and the traction indicator light comes on, there may be a flaw in the system. This can be a result of the wheel speed sensor having a flaw, which luckily can easily be rectified by adjusting the settings in your vehicle’s traction informant system settings.


If you find yourself driving as you normally do and notice your airbag warning light is on, this could mean there is an issue with one of your airbags. It is advised to get this checked ASAP as it could be costly in the event of an accident and the airbags failure to deploy.


In simple terms, this indicates that one of your lamps or bulbs are out. It may not seem like a major issue, but if you find yourself traveling at night with a headlamp or tail-light not functioning, it can pose a safety risk, not only to you but other road users.

AutoZone stock a wide range of leading and exclusive automotive lighting solutions, which you can obtain and enquire about online here – https://www.autozoneonline.co.za/


The last 3 icons are considered the basics in terms of understanding your vehicle. These consist of;

Washer fluid/normal water mix for spraying your front windscreen and allows the wipers to remove road dirt/insects and/or grime (your vehicle’s washer needs to be refilled with water and a windscreen solution in order to operate correctly).

Door open indicator – safely pull over and check all your doors by opening and closing them.

Finally, the low fuel light indicator warns of an impending running out of fuel scenario, should this indicator light remain on, head to your nearest garage and rectify this before you run out of fuel!

There you have it, now you know what to do in case any of your warning lights appear on your vehicle’s dashboard! We hope this information was of assistance to you and we encourage you to keep this in mind before embarking on any trips.