John Linden: Hi! I'm John Linden, Master ASE Certified Technician and North America Training Manager for Midas International Corporation. Today I'd like to talk to you about some of the not so common dashboard lights and what they mean. The TPMS or Tire Pressure Monitoring System light icon looks like a tire that is cut in half and has an exclamation (!
) point in the center of it. Instead of using the letter some manufacturers have a yellow triangle with an exclamation (!
) point in it. The reason for this feature is to alert the driver that the air pressure in one or more tires is getting low, a tire with low air pressure generates excessive heat and could cause major damage to the tire and that has an increased chance of going flat.
Depending on the road conditions the speed of the vehicle or other circumstances that could even cause the vehicle to go out of control. If the light is on the air pressure should be checked as soon as possible. The Traction Control light icon comes in a number of versions; the two most common ones are a tire with the letters TC in it and a triangle that has a car with skid marks in it. The objective behind Traction Control is to allow the vehicle put accelerate from a stop in snow or mud without the drive wheel spinning. If the drive wheel spin too fast or too long they could do damage to the transmission and possibly the engine, when the traction control light comes on it alerts the driver that the Traction Control is activated. If the light stays on during normal driving condition it needs to be checked by professional technician.
The maintenance reminder lights are usually words and not any type of a symbol. The light is built in by the manufacturer to alert to the driver that the regular emission and/or scheduled maintenance is due, the scheduled services vary dependent on a vehicle. So if your vehicle is equipped with this type of a warning light, check your owner's manual or take it to a shop to perform emission and maintenance services.
The airbag light icon looks like a person sitting down with a large ball on the person's lap. Airbags can save your life, so if the light is on you should not ignore it. The airbag light should only come on when there was a malfunction in the airbag system or on some vehicles if no one is sitting in the passenger seat it may turn on the light to inform the driver that the passenger side airbag is inactive. Under normal condition the light should remain off, if it comes on and stays on the airbag system is inactive and should be checked as soon as possible. Now that you know what these dashboard lights represent, you'll be more prepared to handle each one.