January 8th, 2014
On every dashboard of a car, there are a series of lights that signal something could be awry. While some drivers may choose to do nothing about potential problems with their vehicle, here are a few you should never ignore:
Check engine light
If you're driving and suddenly notice that your check engine light is bright, it means there may be an issue with your emissions control system. The light often looks like an engine and is easy to spot, but can indicate a serious problem. Some drivers may choose to ignore this light for some time, but taking it seriously is your best bet. If your check engine light is blinking or flashing, this could mean there is a more severe problem. If the light is simply illuminated, you may just need minor maintenance, or it could mean something in the system has failed.
What to do: If your check engine light pops on, it doesn't mean you need to pull over immediately. However, it is important that you get your vehicle checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible. In the meantime, you should limit driving if possible.
Low tire pressure
Tire pressure is one of the easiest fixes that nearly every car owner can do themselves. Many vehicles have a light that will alert you if your tires are in need of air. Sensors that are located within the air valves will tell you if one tire is underinflated by at least 25 percent. It could also indicate that there might be a hole in a tire. If you continue to drive on an underinflated tire, you are putting yourself at risk and adding wear and tear to your tires. Additionally, tires that aren't inflated properly result in worse gas mileage, meaning you could end up spending more at the pump.
What to do: If you know that your tires are in need of air, take your car to a gas station that has an air pump. Pressure gauges are a small and inexpensive tool that every owner should have in their vehicle. Use a pressure gauge to see how much air your tires need and measure if they are properly inflated.
Service engine light
If this light - which is typically in the shape of a wrench - turns on, it means it's time for a routine maintenance or service. If you need to change the oil, for example, this light will generally alert you to take your car in or do it yourself. The service light could also indicate that it is time to change an air filter, rotate your tires or change another fluid. While you might be able to drive with this light on for some time, you could cause further damage to your car by doing so.
What to do: When the service light comes on, you might already have some idea of what it is for. If you haven't changed your oil in a while, consider doing it as soon as possible.
While most drivers have auto insurance to cover them in the case of an accident, getting extra coverage to help pay for breakdowns and repairs can also be beneficial and help you avoid financial disaster.