+44 (0)1670 523200

Why it’s not a good idea to drive with a dash light showing

At Cavendish Motor Company we are very keen to keep you on the road in a car you can trust. The Cavendish Motor Company technical team specialise in technical diagnosis so we’ve put together this quick 3 minute read to answer that all important question.

“I’ve got a light on. Can I continue to drive my car or do I need a garage?”

Whilst there are nuances from one model to the next the majority of vehicles have a core set of warning lights. Some of these gently remind us of things to which we need to attend, others are just there to provide us with information, but there are a few that warn of serious issues with which you’ll need to act without delay.

When you start your car the instrument panel will illuminate all the warning lights. This is a check that bulbs and circuits are working. These warning lights then switch off after a few seconds. After that, if any light comes on it’s a warning there is an associated issue.

Car Service Lights and Warnings

When one comes on while the car is being driven, stop in a safe place and as soon as possible. Red and flashing warning lights mean the vehicle needs immediate attention; others allow you to carry on so you can reach a garage so professionals can check for problems.
These are the most important lights to watch out for:

Engine warning light

ECU Light or Emissions Light

You may find that this light is followed by unusual symptoms like a lack of power or the engine making odd noises, but at other times the car may seem fine.
What can cause this warning light to come on can range from a faulty electrical sensor to a more serious mechanical issue. When it comes on, it’s advisable to have a professional look at the car straight away to ensure there’s no danger of further damage.

Brake system light

Anti Lock Brakes Warning

As the brakes are among a car’s most important features this light is crucial. It may just be warning that handbrake is still on, but if may indicate a potentially dangerous problem with the braking system.
If the brake fluid level is low, it needs topping up to the MAX mark. When the fluid level is fine but the light remains on, it’s time to have the garage check for problems straight away.
ABS warning light

An anti-lock braking system (ABS) warning light coming on while driving indicates there may be a problem. Get the system checked even though the majority of cars are still safe to drive without ABS, it isn’t universally the case.

Your braking distances may be affected and you may find it more difficult to avoid any skidding in adverse weather conditions.


Power steering / EPAS warning light

Steering Light

This warning light turns on when something is wrong with a car’s steering system. Often associated with this lamp lighting up is the steering becoming heavy and requiring more effort to manoeuvre. The car needs to be checked as soon as possible.

Oil pressure warning light

Oil Pressure Warning

Oil warning lights flash up when the oil’s temperature is too high, the level or the oil’s pressure is too low. Stop in a safe place and check the oil level.
Because oil crucially lubricates the engine contact a professional when the warning light stays on even when the oil level is fine. Total engine failure can happen if this is left unchecked.

Coolant warning light

Engine Temperature Warning

A car without coolant can overheat and get so hot it effectively welds itself together and lead to complete engine failure. The car should be brought to a stop immediately and if the coolant level is fine, the car needs to be seen by a garage to check for larger problems.


Airbag warning light

This is warning of something faulty with at least one airbag and possible the whole system. This could cause the airbag to fail in a crash, or it could go off unexpectedly, with the potential to cause injury and a repair bill.

Regular car checks and routine maintenance helps reduce the risk of any of a car’s warning lights showing up on the dashboard.

Diagnostic Check

The good news is that at Cavendish Motor Company we have the expertise to keep your car’s complex systems functioning as they should. We guarantee that our skilled technicians will always give you great value and peace of mind when we maintain your car.

Call us today we’re here to help 01670 201 090.