Understanding common dashboard warning lights and what they mean

What your van’s dashboard warning lights mean

As commercial vehicles become more advanced, so do the sensors and electronics that monitor their overall health. While this is, on the whole, good for business users, it can present a bit of a challenge when it comes to determining exactly what’s wrong when a warning light appears. If you have your manual to hand then it’s fairly straightforward to check, but that’s not always the case.

We’ve compiled a short guide to help you identify some of the more common van dashboard warning lights and what they represent. You never know, it could end up saving you from a costly repair.

Engine warning light

One of the more important van warning lights to watch out for on your dash is the engine warning light. While it may indicate something small, such as a faulty sensor, an engine light accompanied by a lack of power or some stuttering when you press the accelerator could signify a bigger issue. Either way, it’s advisable to get your vehicle checked by a professional as soon as possible to avoid severe damage.

Oil warning light

The oil warning light usually suggests that oil levels are getting low. Although this may not seem urgent at first glance, if you typically do a lot of miles, it needs attending to as soon as possible. Once your engine has cooled, check the level and top up if necessary.

The oil light may also be a sign that the oil pressure is too low or its temperature is too high. Assuming your oil levels are adequate, you’ll need to contact your local service centre and get your van in as soon as you can – if you leave it, you could be facing expensive engine damage.

Brake system warning light

The brakes are arguably the most important feature on your vehicle, so if this van dashboard warning light comes on when the handbrake has been released, you need to pay attention. The light could mean your brake fluid level is low, in which case, head to your local dealer or mechanic as soon as convenient to get it topped up.

If the symbol illuminates and you are also having to press the brake pedal further than usual to achieve the same level of braking, it could mean one of the hydraulic brake circuits has failed. This is cause to get to the garage immediately as it’s a more major problem.

Coolant warning light

The engine coolant in your van prevents it getting so hot it effectively welds itself together. If the coolant light comes on, it signifies low levels of this fluid. As with the oil, wait until the engine is cool before looking under the bonnet to check the gauge on the side of the coolant tank. If necessary, top up the fluid.

If, in addition to the warning light, the temperature gauge reads within the red zone, your engine could be overheating due to a gasket failure. It may, however, indicate a less serious issue such as a leak. Either way, it’s best to check with a technician.

Power steering warning light

This light illuminates when there’s something wrong with the steering system. Heavy steering and difficulty with changing direction indicate a failure of the power steering, which is annoying at low speeds but can prove hazardous on the motorway, particularly if you’re required to change lanes unexpectedly.

If you’ve noticed any of the above symbols illuminating on your dashboard, the technicians at Vanwise can investigate and resolve any issues. Contact us today to make an appointment.