Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Car Warning Lights
Posted on April 18, 2022
I’m the prime example of exactly what not to do: I’ve been driving with my Check Engine light on for three years, my tire pressure sensor light is on because my winter tires don’t have the sensors, my abs light comes on intermittently and my low oil and low coolant lights come on every couple of months. These are the things that can happen when you are in the automotive industry and your husband is a mechanic… your car is the last one to get fixed.
While I’ve learnt to just ignore the glaring signs on my dash telling me my car needs some attention, there have been repercussions - bad ones. My fuel economy should be under 7 L/100km - it is 10 L/100km; when my winter tires had a slow leak, I didn’t realize for a long enough time that they have now worn very unevenly and will need to be replaced after only one season; sometimes when I stop in the rain I need to remember I don’t have ABS and pump my brakes or risk sliding through an intersection, and; I constantly carry oil and coolant in my trunk and have needed to pull over in some dangerous spots (like the 401) to fill up.
Whether your dashboard is lit like a Christmas tree, you have one persistent light on at all times or a light that tends to appear every once in a while - ignoring these warning lights is never a good idea - take it from someone who knows all too well.
Here are the top 4 reasons you should never ignore your car’s warning lights.
Your car is telling you something simple
Your dashboard warning light may simply be telling you that your parking brake is still engaged, check check brake fluid levels, your tire needs air or maybe that you are low on fuel and should pull off at the next gas station. Not all the lights on your dashboard require a mechanic and some can be corrected within seconds. On the flip side, ignoring these seemingly uncomplicated car warning lights could quickly make a mountain out of a molehill.
You could get stranded
Running out of gas, coolant, oil or having a flat tire are all reasons you may need to make an emergency stop. Your starter or battery dying could lead to you not being able to start your car and being stuck where you are. Most of the time, your car will warn you before you are in a situation that could leave you stranded - pay attention and seek regular car maintenance before you are stuck on the side of a highway or unable to leave your office at the end of the day due to something that could have been avoided.
It could end up costing you more
A poorly running vehicle can cost you money in a variety of ways. You could be spending more on fuel if you have emissions related issues, you may need to replace car parts sooner if something is causing additional wear and/or need to replace more parts because what you chose to ignore created a larger problem. While it may seem like no big deal to have a few car warning lights on, not acting on these warnings can create much bigger and costly problems that cannot be ignored.
Your safety could be at risk
Airbag warning lights, brake warning lights and hood/door ajar lights could all be indicators of something potentially fatal if left unchecked. Even ignoring a tire pressure warning light can lead to a safety concern if the low tire pressure impacts the handling and/or stopping power of your car.
BONUS Tip - Yellow versus Red Warning Lights
If the warning light that appears on your car dashboard is yellow it is something that should be checked at your earliest convenience - it is not an emergency and you should have no need to pull off the road or to exercise extreme caution while driving. If the light is red, this should be considered an emergency and you should find the safest place immediately available and turn off your vehicle so you can either call help or take the appropriate action yourself.
Ultimately, you should never ignore your car warning lights because they are trying to tell you something requires attention before it develops into something worse, more expensive or becomes an actual emergency. Getting a peace of mind inspection of the car is always advised.
Do you have a warning light on your dashboard right now? Are you due for regular maintenance? Looking for more car maintenance tips? Contact one of our Service Advisors and/or check out more of our blogs at carhub.ca.
Sharon Pinfold has been in the automotive industry since 2005. She has worked in the Service Department, Leasing Department and as a New/Used Car Sales Person for domestic, foreign and luxury brands. Most recently, she worked for an Agency that provided digital advertising and website solutions to the automotive sector.