Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Lights on your Dash Like Lights on Your Tree



By Tim Gorman & Keith Pershing

It is common for us to have customers stop in with a question regarding a light on the dashboard. Sometimes it is the TPMS (as we discussed in our last article), but other times it’s something else. Cars today have all kinds of computer components that easily trigger lights. We’re here to help you determine the lights and turn them out.

In our last article we talked about the TPMS light. It appears on your dashboard and can drive you “mental” as Keith likes to say. This light is attached to your tire pressure monitor sensor and can be caused by low tire pressure, but also a faulty sensor (see our last article for further details).

However, there are lots of other lights and buttons on your dash. Improvements in car technology have been great and can be a big help in determining things such as low tire pressure and oil life. Yet, these helpful lights require a computer scan in order to determine why they have occurred. Having a message on your dash that reads “Service Oil” does not always mean you are low on oil. A “Service Oil” message can mean that you are due for an oil change, and your car is letting you know your oil is dirty. “Service Engine Soon” is not the same as a “Service Oil” light. This light definitely requires a computer scan and can be a number of different things. “Sometimes it can be as simple as a loose gas cap, or as serious as a computer electronics, engine, or transmission malfunction. It could also be any of the many sensors in the engine compartment that could have gone faulty. There are lots of computer electronics that send lots of information to the computer.” Tim explains. “This is why it is so important to stop by your local island service station and have them scan your vehicle’s computer and determine what could be causing the light.”

“Low on Coolant” seems pretty self-explanatory. However, this is not always the case. If a light that reads “Low on Coolant” appears on your dash, it is important you get your vehicle scanned. Why? “A low on coolant light can also be triggered by a low coolant level that sets off a sensor in the radiator reservoir. The cause of that is the concern.” Keith clarifies. “Is the light because there was a small loss due to a lack of maintenance? Or if it’s a sudden loss, this light is your first warning system. If ignored, continued loss of coolant will lead to the next warning light, ‘Engine temperature overheat.’ This can cause serious and very expensive engine damage. So ounces of coolant concern can save pounds of money spent.”

Tim follows-up, “The shop scanner sends us in the right direction but does not always give us all of the answers. The technicians will follow the troubleshooting tree, determine the diagnosis, fix your car, and then send you in the right direction after turning off your warning lights.”

For questions and ideas for future articles, please contact Tim and Keith at

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