Dashboard Confessional Part Two: Do YOU Know These Dashboard Warning Symbols?

By: Lucy Zemljic on September 29, 2014
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Drivers know that when your car speaks, you should listen. A few weeks ago, we tested your dashboard decoding skills with the first in our series of dashboard warning light quizzes. This week, we’ve got a fresh new batch of symbols, and we're testing your knowledge once again with our second dashboard warning lights quiz.

Take a crack at the quiz below to test your dashboard fluency!

Do YOU know what these dashboard symbols mean?
a) Something’s wrong with your power steering
b) There’s a fault with your traction control system
c) This is a distance warning
d) There’s been a powertrain malfunction
Correct! That was the power steering warning light.
Woops, that was the power steering warning light.
If you see a little steering wheel with an exclamation mark on your dashboard, it means that your car’s power steering fluid levels have gotten low, or there’s a fault in the system. Check the fluid levels, and top them up if they’re low. If the warning symbol stays lit or comes back when you’re behind the wheel, there’s not much you can do yourself at this point – have your car inspected by a technician asap.
a) This is a brake pad warning
b) Your oil pressure is low
c) This is the parking assist light
d) Your parking brake is engaged
Correct! This is the parking brake light.
Woops, that was the parking brake light.
When this P-in-a-circle lights up, your parking brake is engaged, or it hasn’t been fully released. Simply make sure to disengage the parking or emergency brake before you start driving. If the symbol has a little wrench underneath it, your electronic parking brakes need to be serviced. This symbol has the standard “circle in brackets,” which is always used to represent brakes.
a) Your overdrive system has been deactivated
b) Your cruise control is on
c) One of your tail lights is out
d) Your washer fluid is low
Correct! This is the cruise control symbol.
Woops, that was the cruise control symbol.
If you see this mini speedometer symbol, not to worry – it simply means that your cruise control system is activated. In older models, the word “cruise” was used instead of a speedometer and pointer, that’s why many drivers may not realize what this new symbol means.
a) Your washer fluid is low
b) Your windshield wipers have been automatically activated
c) This is the rain sensor symbol
d) Your windshield is being defrosted
Correct! This is the windshield defroster light.
Woops, that was the windshield defroster light.
This one may look obvious, but it sometimes gets confused with other windshield-related symbols. This little light becomes activated when the driver is defogging or defrosting their front windshield. Remember – a curved rectangle refers to your front windshield, while a straight rectangle refers to your rear window.
a) Your key fob battery is low
b) Your engine’s computer has limited power left
c) There’s a problem with your car’s battery
d) Something is wrong with your emissions related electronic system
Correct! This is the battery warning light.
Woops, that was the battery warning light.
This one’s a no-brainer! The little battery warning light indicates that your car’s charging system is not working properly, and its voltage level is below normal. Check the condition of your battery right away, and take a look at the battery terminals and alternator belt.
a) Your rain sensor is activated
b) There’s a crack in your windshield
c) Your washer fluid is low
d) Your windshield wiper has been automatically activated
Correct! This is the washer fluid warning light.
Woops, that was the washer fluid warning light.
This one’s another windshield-related warning symbol, and indicates that your windshield washer fluid is low – fill the fluid reservoir as soon as you can. The little dashed lines represent streams of washer fluid, and can also be found on the reservoir cover under your car’s hood.
a) The temperature in your engine is too high
b) Your vehicle’s low on brake fluid
c) The oil temperature in your transmission is too high
d) There’s a problem with your glow plugs
Correct! This is the transmission temperature warning light!
Woops, that was the transmission temperature warning light!
Not to be confused with the engine temperature warning light, this symbol indicates that the oil temperature in your transmission has reached critical levels. Pull over as soon as possible, so that the transmission can cool down, otherwise you run the risk of transmission failure. The gear-shaped ring in this symbol is used to represent the transmission, and makes an appearance in a few other warning symbols too.
a) This is the Diesel Particulate Filter Warning symbol. 
b) There are ping pong balls in the hood of your car
c) Your engine’s air filter needs replacing
d) Your engine’s cooling system needs replacing
Correct! This is the clogged air filter warning light.
Woops, that was the clogged air filter warning light.
It might look like a bunch of ping pong balls, but this symbol represents a clogged air filter. If you see this warning light on your dashboard, your engine’s air filter needs replacement. This isn’t super urgent, but you should replace the filter (or have it replaced by a technician) when possible. Those little dots represent your car’s air filter, and the arrow represents airflow.
a) There’s a problem with your powertrain
b) Your gas cap is loose
c) This is the automatic shift lock symbol
d) There’s an issue with your catalytic converter
Correct! This is the powertrain warning symbol.
Woops, that was the powertrain warning symbol.
This symbol has the same gear-shaped circle as the transmission temperature warning light, because it represents another transmission-related issue. This is the Powertrain problem indicator, and means that there’s been a general problem detected in the automatic transmission or transaxle of your vehicle. There’s not much you can do about this yourself – get your car serviced as soon as possible.
a) Your dynamic stability control system needs servicing
b) There’s a problem with your electronic throttle controls 
c) Your gas cap is loose
d) Your engine’s cooling system is low on fluid
Correct! This is the low coolant warning symbol.
Woops, that was the low coolant warning symbol.
This symbol represents a radiator, and that wavy line symbolizes fluid levels. When this light flashes on, it means the fluid is low in your engine’s cooling system – either top up the coolant yourself, or see a licensed service professional so that they can take care of it.



So, how did you do? Were you able to decode this second batch of dashboard lights? If you had trouble this time around, there are plenty of ways to brush up on your knowledge – crack open your owner’s manual for a detailed explanation of the lights associated with your specific car brand. To refresh your memory, check out our first warning lights quiz and – if you’re up for it – refresh this page to try the second quiz again!

As always, stay safe on the road, and stay tuned for our next dashboard decoding challenge!