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Do not let your idiot lights make an idiot out of you



Do not let your idiot lights make an idiot out of you

Cars today have a lot of electrical gadgets that are supposed to help the car owner determine if the car is working correctly or needs to be serviced, etc. To keep your car running smoothly, one must know what all the lights and noises mean. Learn what your car's lights, noises and other electrical messages are trying to tell you about the status of your automobile.

The best way to determine what the sounds and lights mean in your car is to read through your car's driver manual or talk to a mechanic experienced with working on your model vehicle. If you have misplaced your driver's manual or bought the car used without the manual, then you should be able to find a maintenance guide written by an outside publisher that explains what each light corresponds to or light represents.

There are some lights and sounds though that are pretty universal to most motor vehicles and as a car owner you need to be aware of. The first information your car usually gives you is a noise when you start up your car. This is to let you know that the car has been turned on. If your seat belt is not put on, or your passenger's is not then typically a newer car will also make a noise to alert you to the fact that the safety belts need to be fastened. This is a good noise to get your kids used to so that they know to buckle up.

When first starting up your car you will see the dashboard lights flash and then should go out. If a light stays on, the car is trying to tell you something. Cars' lights and sounds differ but the items below most new model cars have. The first is the seatbelt noise and light when you start up the car. Usually they both will stay on until the driver has buckled up.

The next is an airbag light that will blink on when the car lights up to show that the airbag is engaged. Typically the light will then turn off. If you need to turn off the airbag then some cars allow this, read your driver's manual to find out how. If the airbag light continues to stay on beyond the initial start up of the car, and you haven't turned it off manually, take the car to be checked out by a mechanic.

A red brake light circle usually lights up if the parking brake is on and being used. If this light remains on after starting up the car, check the brake to see if it is still on or is stuck on if you did not think it was being used. If the brake appears to be off but the light is on then you will need to have the brake, or at least the brake fluid, checked out.

The high beam headlight indicator, usually blue but could be a different color depending upon the make of your car, will light up if your have your high beams on. If you mean to have them on then it is fine, if you do not then this light lets you know that your high beams have been accidentally turned on.

Knowing how to read the temperature indicator is important for any motorist. If the temperature of the engine gets too hot the temperature will go to the hot, red side and a light may light up as well. This can be caused by a radiator problem, not enough water or coolant in your system. If you are able to stop and let the car cool down, or can add distilled water or coolant then do so. This may help the car's heating problem. If you cannot stop, try turning on the heater, this will draw away the heat from the engine and may help cool it down.

If the battery light remains on after the initial start up of the car then you will need to have your battery and/or alternator looked at. If you have a weak battery or alternator then you will have problems starting and keeping your car running. This is especially true if you live in a warmer climate. The light may also indicate more of an electrical problem that you need to have repaired.

A light that is very important to know and pay attention to is the oil light. It will come on if there is low oil pressure. If it comes on you should check your oil level as soon as possible. If the oil level looks normal then take the car to a mechanic to check why the light came on. Do not continue to drive a long distance or you may ruin your engine.

Certain model cars have lights or noises if your anti-lock braking (ABS) system is engaged, if you have low windshield washer fluid, if your door is ajar, if your gas door or trunk is open, or if you are low in fuel. If you have a light or noise in your car that was not listed here, check your driver's manual or maintenance book to find out what the meaning is so you are fully aware of your car's information alerts.

The reason car makers have placed these lights and noises in your vehicle are to let your car communicate with you. Some of the communication is friendly, like turn off your lights, put on your seat belt, etc. Other noises and lights are to give you important information such as add oil or check your engine or take the car in to be checked out.


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