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Car warning lights. Guide for Singapore motorists

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We take them for granted because each time we start the car, they come on and then they disappear. They are mostly ignored and forgotten, that is, until something bad happens.

So here’s a handy guide geared towards drivers in Singapore because let’s face it we don’t really need to know about cold weather, frost and fog warning lights. 

Read on to find out what they are and what to do when these cryptic warning symbols come on (stay lit and won’t go away).

First thing to remember is colour: 1) red calls for immediate action; 2) amber for non-urgent attention; 3) green or blue are just for information.

brake system

Brake Engaged (Red)
Indicates one of three possible conditions: parking brake is on; problem with the braking system/brake fluid is low, or ABS problem. Check brake fluid and make sure the parking brake is fully released. If the problem is in the ABS system, it may need a professional diagnosis.

engine oil

Engine Oil (Red)
If this light stays on, it indicates loss of oil pressure. Immediately check oil level and pressure.

Tyre Pressure

Tyre Pressure (Amber)
Means the tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) has found a tyre with low air pressure or that there may be a sensor malfunction. Check tyre pressure. Some vehicles will allow manual reset of TPMS warning light and others will require professional diagnosis. Refer to owner's manual.

press brake pedal

Brake Pedal (Green)
Only equipped on automatic transmissions, this light will illuminate after the engine is started and reminds the driver that the brake pedal has to be pressed in order to shift out of Park mode. As soon as you have stepped on the brakes, the light should go out.

brake pad monitor

Brake Pad Monitoring (Amber)
Some luxury cars warn when the brake pads need replacing. You don’t need to change the pads immediately, but they won’t have much life left in them.

engine cooling system

Engine Cooling/Coolant System (Red)
If you see the coolant light show up on your dashboard, it could mean coolant levels are running low, so check the coolant level under the bonnet and top up if necessary. Also check for possible radiator cap and coolant leaks.

traction control

Traction Control (Amber)
Many new vehicles give drivers the option to turn off the traction control in their vehicles. So, if your vehicle’s traction control light is on, it may be as simple as making sure your traction control isn’t turned off. Also, traction control and ABS often share the same control module and internal self-diagnostics system. Sometimes an issue in the ABS can trigger the traction control light to come on. If that is the case, then both the ABS and traction control lights will be on.

check engine

Check Engine (Amber)
This is the engine warning light. If it’s illuminated, often it is an indication of a serious problem. These could include a lack of power, as the car has gone into ‘safe’ mode to protect itself; an intermittent stuttering as you press the accelerator, caused by a misfire; or another fault which could alter the normal response from the engine. If your car’s engine warning light is showing, get a professional mechanic to look over it straight away, as driving around any longer could cause further, and potentially irreparable damage.

lane assist

Lane Assist (Green)
They may be called Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Lane Departure Mitigation (LDM), Lane Departure Prevention (LDP), Lane Keeping Assist Aid (LKA) or Lane Keeping Assistant System (LKAS). They detect lane markers and will light up once your car drifts out of it. These are very handy for our Singapore drifters who like to meander in and out of their lanes.

automatic gearbox

Automatic Gearbox (Amber)
If the computer detects any abnormal readings from the sensors, the automatic transmission indicator light will turn on to alert the driver of possible issues. One of the most common issues that causes this indicator light to illuminate is that the transmission fluid temperature is higher than normal. If this light comes on, it should be checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible.

airbag and seatbelt system

Airbag & Seatbelt System (Red)
If this light stays illuminated after starting, it indicates that the vehicle has found a fault in the airbag system. Professional repair of the supplemental restraint system is highly recommended.

boot lid

Boot Lid (Green)
When this light is illuminated, you should double check that the boot lid is fully closed. As soon as the boot is secure, the light should go out. If it doesn’t turn off by itself, then the switch may be broken or malfunctioning.

battery problem

Battery Problem (Red)
Indicates voltage level is below normal level and the vehicle's charging system is not functioning properly. Check battery terminals, alternator belt, and battery condition.

abs system

ABS System (Amber)
If the warning light comes on while you are driving, it means the ABS is not working properly. Your brakes will still work but the ABS might not engage if you need to make an emergency stop. If the light remains on, you need to have a mechanic diagnose the ABS light issue as soon as possible.

fuel level

Fuel Level (Amber)
The fuel pump symbol is illuminated when the fuel is low, or a smaller light may illuminate near this symbol when the fuel is low. If an arrow is present, it points to the side of the vehicle used to refill the tank. That is, the side the fuel filling door is on.

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