What Do the Lights on My Dashboard Mean? {Part 4}


Have you ever turned on your engine, only to see a brand new icon light up and utter confusion follow closely behind? Our vehicles are complicated and it’s important to know what all those lights and icons mean so you can maintain your car’s health and ensure its safety. Maybe you’re new to driving or perhaps you’re a seasoned driver who just needs a refresher. Either way, our new series “What Do the Lights on My Dash Mean?” will hopefully provide some insight on what all those many confusing icons are and what they mean about your vehicle and driving experience, so you can look out for potential problems!

If you’re new to our series, check out Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.



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A modern safety feature offered on a lot of new cars, all of these lights refer to forward collision warnings. The red bar of lights illuminates at the base of a vehicle’s windshield when a crash appears imminent, while the other lights illuminate when the system is manually turned off or if there is a fault with the system.

A true off-road vehicle will be offered with a two-speed transfer case that includes a four-wheel low system. This light illuminates when the four-wheel low system is engaged. If the light is on when the vehicle is not in four-wheel low, there may be an issue with the system.

An icon depicting a vehicle and a gas cap, this warning light simply means that the gas cap is either missing or loose. A gas cap needs to be in place for a vehicle to properly pass emission standards.

Another diesel-specific warning light, this is not a pig’s tail, but rather an icon that refers to glow plugs. A diesel vehicle needs the glow plugs to warm up before it can be started. This light will remain illuminated when a key is first put in the ignition until the plugs are ready.

An indicator for the hazard lights, this light should only be illuminated when the hazard lights are active. The light may flash along with the four-way flashers when active.

This light refers to hill descent control. Some vehicles have a low-speed cruise control system that helps a vehicle creep slowly down a steep hill by using the brakes and engine management. If the light is illuminated when not in use, there may be an issue with hill descent control.

A simple light, this one indicates the vehicle’s hood is open. An easy way to distinguish this from the trunk open light below is by looking at the picture of the car. The front features a longer, more sloped hood.

Similar to the light above, this one refers to the trunk being open. An easy way to distinguish this from the hood open light is by looking at the picture of the car. The back features a shorter, squared off trunk.

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These lights refer to a vehicle’s security and may mean a few different things. It could indicate the key is not in the car, the vehicle’s active security system is on or there is a fault with the ignition key.

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Another modern safety feature in many vehicles is a lane departure warning system. This light will illuminate if the system has been manually disabled or there is a fault with it.



Stay tuned for Part 5 of this series next week! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below or tweet us at @Advantage_Ford!


This information was shared from AutoGuide’s 2015 article called “What Does That Light on My Dash Mean?”

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