October 13, 2023 | Allison Robertson

10 Vehicle Warnings You Should Not Ignore

Vehicle Warning Lights You Should Never Ignore

Mechanic and shop split image 

When your car talks, you better listen. Especially when it's flashing warning lights or sounding alarms. Ignoring these can lead to costly repairs or, worse, put your safety at risk. 

Mechanics urgently advise against ignoring your vehicle's warning lights, considering them as your car's primary way of communicating potential issues. Each light, whether it pertains to engine trouble, low tire pressure, or a braking system issue, is designed to alert drivers of abnormalities in the vehicle’s operation or failures in its subsystems. 

Neglecting these warnings can not only escalate minor issues into major, often expensive repairs but also compromise the safety of the vehicle, putting the driver, passengers, and even fellow motorists at risk. It's not merely a matter of vehicle maintenance but a critical step in ensuring safe and sound travel on the roads.

Here are 10 vehicle warnings that you should take seriously, and what they mean. 

Check Engine Light

Check Engine LightTexoma

This ubiquitous little light is the bane of many drivers. It could mean anything from a loose gas cap to a malfunctioning oxygen sensor. While sometimes the issues are minor, if ignored, they can escalate to expensive repairs. 

According to a CarMD survey, ignition coil and spark plug issues top the list of common check engine light culprits.

Oil Pressure Warning

warning lightBjoern Wylezich, Shutterstock

Your engine requires lubrication to function. If this light comes on, it means the oil pressure is too low, which could quickly lead to significant engine damage. 

A survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated that 5% of engine complaints were oil-related.

Temperature Warning

Vehicle Temperature Warning LightSanti S, Shutterstock

If your car is overheating, it could lead to irreparable engine damage. This warning usually indicates that the coolant level is low or the cooling system is malfunctioning. Immediate attention can prevent problems like warped cylinder heads or engine failure.


Brake Warning Light

Vehicle Brake Warning LightChaiyagorn Phermphoon, Shutterstock

This could signal a range of issues from low brake fluid to worn-out brake pads. Considering that brakes are your primary safety mechanism when driving, ignoring this warning can have catastrophic consequences.

Tire Pressure Warning Light

Vehicle Tire Pressure Warning LightJ.J. Gouin, Shutterstock

Low tire pressure affects fuel efficiency, tire wear, and vehicle handling. More crucially, it increases the risk of a tire blowout. The NHTSA states that under-inflated tires triple the risk of a crash.

Battery Alert Light

Dumbest Person FactsShutterstock

A dying battery or a malfunctioning alternator could leave you stranded. When this light is on, your vehicle's electrical system is running solely on the battery, and once drained, your car will stall.

Airbag Warning Light

Vehicle Airbag Warning LightNew Africa, Shutterstock

An illuminated airbag light means there’s a fault in the system. In the event of a collision, the airbags might not deploy, increasing the risk of injury. Faulty airbag deployments have led to numerous vehicle recalls in recent years.

Transmission Temperature

Vehicle Transmission Temperature Warning LightGartland, Shutterstock

If this light is activated, it suggests your transmission fluid is hotter than it should be, leading to potential transmission damage. The complexity and cost of fixing transmission issues make this a warning light you shouldn’t take lightly.

Traction Control or Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) Light

ABS Break Warning Lightninefotostudio, Shutterstock

If either of these lights stays on after starting your vehicle, there's an issue with either system. While your vehicle will still be operational, its ability to handle specific driving conditions like snow, ice, or heavy rainfall might be compromised.


Service Vehicle Soon Light

Check Service Engine Light on VehicleBenjamin Clapp, Shutterstock

Unlike the 'Check Engine' light, this is more general and can pertain to issues beyond the engine. It could be an electrical problem or even a reminder for routine maintenance. Either way, it’s best not to ignore it.

Ignoring these warnings doesn't just jeopardize your safety but can also lead to more expensive repairs in the long run. It's always advisable to consult with a mechanic or vehicle expert when any of these lights appear.