Dashboard Warning Lights – Engine Check Lights – Fault Codes

We are sure you already know that cars are becoming more and more computer controlled by the day. Even the most basic car or bakkie today is computer controlled in some way or another. So what are you to do when you get a dash warning light or engine check light come on? Contact the SAC Outlet in your area.

One thing is for sure is that your car or bakkie is trying to tell you something when a dash warning light or engine check light is triggered.  Bottom line is that your vehicle’s onboard computer system has self diagnosed some kind of problem before you have managed to identify it.


Sometimes it can be something trivial like your windscreen wiper fluid is getting low or it can be something serious like your engine oil or coolant level is low, and ignoring this dash warning light or engine check light could cost you a fortune in engine repair bills because there is no way of knowing what that check light means or what the associated fault code is without running a diagnostic scan on your vehicle to determine the exact fault code that has been historically stored in the car or bakkie’s computer.

Dashboard Warning Lights and their meanings:

warning lights

1. Fog Light (Front)
2. Power steering warning light
3. Fog Light (Rear)
4. Washer fluid low
5. Brake Pad Warning
6. Cruise Control on
7. Direction Indicators
8. Rain and Light Sensor
9. Winter mode
10. Information Indicator
11. Glow Plug / Diesel Preheat Warning
12. Frost Warning
13. Ignition Switch Warning
14. Key not in vehicle
15. Key fob battery low
16. Distance Warning

17. Press clutch pedal
18. Press brake pedal
19. Steering lock warning
20. Main beam headlights
21. Tyre pressure low
22. Sidelight information
23. Exterior light fault
24. Brake lights warning
25. Diesel particulate filter warning
26. Trailer tow hitch warning
27. Air suspension warning
28. Lane departure warning
29. Catalytic converter warning
30. Seat belt not on
31. Parking brake light
32. Battery / Alternator warning

33. Parking assist
34. Service required
35. Adaptive lighting
36. Headlight range control
37. Rear spoiler warning
38. Convertible roof warning
39. Airbag warning
40. Handbrake warning
41. Water in fuel filter
42. Airbag deactivated
43. Fault problem
44. Dipped beam headlights
45. Dirty air filter
46. Eco driving indicator
47. Hill descent control
48. Temperature warning

49. ABS warning
50. Fuel filter warning
51. Door open
52. Bonnet open
53. Low fuel
54. Automatic gearbox warning
55. Speed limit
56. Suspension dampers
57. Oil pressure low
58. Windscreen defrost
59. Boot open
60. Stability control off
61. Rain sensor
62. Engine / Emissions warning
63. Rear window defrost
64. Auto windscreen wiping

Fault codes are numeric codes that are generated back into the cars computer for historic retrieval when a problem is detected by your vehicle. Basically if a sensor or some circuit reads out of range or some electronic component fails to respond to a command from the car’s computer, the computer recognises it as a fault and records a number that corresponds to the nature of the problem.

A properly trained technician can then retrieve these codes and refer to a manual that will inform him which parts have failed or are out of range. He can then set about replacing the faulty parts or correcting the range problems. Most of the time it is a fairly straight forward process, but intermittent faults can be very difficult to track down, and may require a bit more time and repeated attempts to repair.

We see cars and bakkies in our workshops everyday because dash warning lights or engine check lights and their fault codes have been ignored. And it is not only over modified or poorly modified vehicles that throw on engine check lights and dash warning lights. Your stock standard everyday family car can throw on engine check lights and dash warning lights too.

As a basic guide, an engine check light or dash warning light that stays on is more serious in nature as this signals some or other component has more than likely failed. If the light comes on and goes off again, or only blinks every now and again, the problem could be minor or intermittent in nature.

So what should you do if your car puts on a dash warning light or engine check light?

The first thing you should do is try to identify the type of dash warning light or engine check light that has been activated. Then make a mental not of when the light is coming on. Is it in the morning first thing? Is it when you accelerate hard? Is it when you are slowing down etc?

Most of the time it is not something serious and you can attend to this yourself, but if it proves to be one of the main warning lights, then we advise that you get your vehicle to your nearest SAC branch to have it checked out and the fault codes identified.

Here are a few guidelines for you to follow:

Pay attention to the colour This is only a basic guide but a red dash warning light or engine check light indicates a potentially serious problem or safety related issue. If the dash warning light or engine check light starts flashing then it is time that you contact one of our SAC branches to have the fault codes read.

Yellow or orange means that something on your car or bakkie needs to be serviced or repaired sooner rather than later.

A green or blue dash warning light or engine check light is mostly for your information, and it is simply telling you that a safety or convenience system is on or is operating.

Warning Symbols These are examples of some of the bad ones, if they come on; you need to proceed with extreme caution to your nearest SAC branch:

  • ABS Brake Warning
  • Engine Coolant Temperature Warning
  • Oil Pressure Low Warning

Trouble and Safety Symbols These are just some examples of the less serious ones and you will still need to have them checked out at your nearest SAC branch though:

  • Airbag Warning
  • Engine Control Warning
  • Power Steering Warning

Control Assist System Symbols In the old days your basic engine dash lights and engine check control lights for control assist systems were limited to features such as the Anti-lock Brakes (ABS), but now there are new systems such Automatic Stability Control (ASC), Brake Assist (BAS) and Parking Assist (PA) to name but a few:

  • Stability Control Off
  • Parking Assist
  • Winter Mode

Information Displays You will find more and more information being displayed on your dash for you to see exactly what features are currently being used, how they are operating and if they need any maintenance:

  • Eco Driving Indictor On
  • Rain and Light Sensor On
  • Windscreen Defrost On

Lighting Indicators and Symbols The following are all related to your car or bakkies lighting system and are mostly blue or green in colour:

  • Headlamp Indicator Symbol
  • Daytime Running Lights Symbol
  • Rear Fog Lamp Indicator Symbol

Routine Indicators and Symbols The following examples are there to indicate basic and routine needs for your car or bakkie:

  • Seat Belt Reminder
  • Low Fuel Indicator
  • Windshield Washer Fluid Low Indicator

Diesel Powered Symbols The following are symbols used only in diesel powered vehicles be they cars, bakkies or SUVs. They can vary a bit from manufacturer to manufacturer:

  • Glow Plug Indicator Symbol
  • Diesel Particulate Filter Symbol
  • Diesel Exhaust Filter Particulate Symbol