Car Warning Lights And Indicators. What Do They Mean? (Part 3)

In parts one and two of the car warning lights and indicators installment, we covered the basics of frequently seen indicators as well as those in more advanced vehicle systems. In part three, we dive deep into indicators seen in diesel, four-wheel drive, and modern vehicles with active safety systems.

Adaptive cruise control indicator

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You might recognize part of this indicator which comes from the Cruise Control symbol from Part 2’s list. The adaptive cruise control indicator is sometimes represented by the letters ACC and works in the same way as standard cruise control does. The difference comes from the radar sensor located at the front of the vehicle that adjusts the speed should the vehicle in front slows down.

Driver attention monitor

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This indicator is represented by the coffee cup. The system notifies the driver if it detects steering input is lost or diminished; indicating that the driver is drowsy or losing focus on the road./

Power steering warning

Usually, when this comes up, it is to inform the driver that the vehicle is lower on power steering fluid. Do check on fluid levels and top it off if necessary. As for modern vehicles with electric power steering, this symbol may be represented with the letters EPS (Electric Power Steering). If this happens, try to restart the engine as it may be an error. Should it continue, you may need to contact your service center to troubleshoot the warning.

Parking assist indicator

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Modern cars with driver assistance systems have all-round sensors to help with parking in tight spaces. The system will warn audibly or have a camera system to show the distance between the vehicle and its surrounding.

Lane departure warning

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Vehicle safety is more important than ever as manufacturers include safety systems to improve driver habits. With the use of a camera to detect line markings on the road, this system warns the driver via sound, audible warnings or even steering vibrations that he or she has exited the lane without using the turn signal.

Center differential lock indicator

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This feature on some 4×4 vehicles allows the driver to lock the center differential so that the vehicle’s wheels move in unison. This is especially useful when the wheels are stuck in mud or driving in rough terrain.

Rear differential lock indicator

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Like the system above, the rear differential lock focuses specifically on the rear wheels as opposed to all wheels. Understanding when to use the right differential lock is also important, as it may cause damage to the drivetrain depending on road conditions. To learn more about this, click here for our round up on whether 2WD, AWD or 4WD systems are best suited for your daily driving needs.

Diesel particulate filter indicator

Depending on the manufacturer, this symbol may differ. Modern diesel vehicles are fitted with a particulate filter to capture larger particles. Over time, the filter may clog up and reduce your vehicle’s performance. To combat this, particle levels are monitored, and the indicator lights up to inform the driver to “regenerate” the filter by driving over 60 km/h for about 10 minutes to clear it up. Should the indicator continue to light up after extended periods, do head to your nearest service center to get it checked.

Glow plug indicator

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As diesel engines do not have spark plugs, the engine will require heating up to help start the engine. The glow plug indicator usually comes on when this happens and goes off when the optimal temperature is achieved. Should the indicator flash, there could be a problem with the plug. Do visit the nearest service center to have the issue inspected.

Diesel fuel filter warning

Image credit: Subaruoutback.org

Unlike petrol cars, diesel counterparts have fuel filters to separate fuel and water before it goes into the engine. Water is collected into the filter which needs to be emptied when full. This indicator lights up when the filter is full, requiring it to be emptied. The filter must be drained when the indicator comes on, or it could cause major damage to the engine.

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Find out more about Part 1 and Part 2 of car warning lights and indicators here!

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