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Understand your car warning lights. Save time and hassle




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Little things make big things happen. This can be good when it comes to setting up a savings account, and bad when it comes to ignoring warnings.

Just as paying attention to savings is good for your bank balance, doing something about a little car warning light can make a big difference to your car’s health and longevity. 

What’s the problem?

A car warning light lets you know when something is wrong, or about to go wrong. Ignoring it won’t make the problem go away, you are simply putting off the inevitable. And the longer you wait, the more likely the solution is to be complex and/or expensive. 

Car warning lights are there for a reason

Here is the second in Budget Direct Insurance’s series on understanding car warning lights and what action you should be taking. 

car warning sign

Brake Warning Light 1

What To Do? The brake warning light can indicate more than one problem. First thing - check that your parking brake is not on. If you are driving and smelling eau-de-brake burn or your car is feeling sluggish, disengage this brake at once. If you’ve been driving for a long time you should get the brake pads checked asap. This light can also be warning that fluid is low in the master cylinder.

Warning. Bizarrely, each car manufacturer has a different use for this standard light! Check your owner’s manual for guidance.

car warning sign

Brake Warning Light 2

Warning. If you have ABS, this light comes on when the car starts and should switch off after a few seconds. If it flashes or tries to get your attention in any other way, it normally indicates something more serious. Anything from ‘you have dirt on one of the sensors’ to ‘your brakes aren’t working, period!’

What To Do? Please get the car to a workshop. It could need a simple clean up, or the ABS unit may need replacing. You can’t leave this to chance.

car warning sign

Coolant Warning Light

Warning This indicates a low level of coolant in your radiator. If the engine is hot, do not open the cap for the radiator. The coolant system is pressurised and you must wait until the engine cools, or be sprayed with boiling coolant!

What To Do? When you’re sure the engine is cold, top up the system with pre-mixed coolant bought from a shop, or with distilled water. Don’t use tap water – it contains mineral deposits that will stay in the radiator and could cause it to fail over time. Pre-mixed coolant is best; it contains a corrosion-inhibitor to help stop your engine rusting.

car warning sign

Electrical Fault Light

Warning. This light comes on when the engine starts as part of your car’s self test. If it stays lit, it’s telling you the electrical charging system is not working as it should.

What To Do? All cars have an alternator - or charger - and a 12v battery that supplies power to the electrical system. If the alternator becomes faulty, the battery won’t charge. Like using an unplugged cell phone, eventually the battery will die. Get the alternator checked and/or repaired before this happens!

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Understand car warning lights Save time and hassle
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Worst car accidents in Singapore involving pile ups. What can we learn?

Budget Direct Insurance
No-Nonsense, money saving cover for your car