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Guide to Dashboard Symbols

Every make and model is different, but all vehicles make use of dashboard symbols to quickly communicate things to the operator. While your driver’s manual contains the exact definitions (and often the best course of action to follow), it can be helpful to have a mental glossary of some of the more important symbols. Keep reading for a brief rundown of these, collected in order of the colour in which they are typically displayed.


Red symbols are usually the most important, meaning it is a crucial safety issue or an important reminder. Drive with care until the following are inspected thoroughly:

  • Battery: a rectangle with positive and negative terminals; faulty batteries, poor charging or a failing electrical system can all trip this warning.
  • Temperature: a thermometer in liquid; usually means the vehicle is in danger of overheating.
  • Oil: an oil lamp with a drop of liquid; warns of low oil pressure, which can lead to your vehicle’s engine seizing.
  • Brake: the word ‘brake’ or an exclamation mark in a circle or brackets; indicates ABS failure, worn brake pads or low brake fluid.


Most often yellow or orange, these symbols can be displayed in a wide variety of shades depending on make and model. Drive as normal, but inspect the source as soon as it is safe to do so. Some examples are:

  • Seat belt off;
  • Airbag on or off;
  • Tire pressure low;
  • Parking brake on;
  • Brake pads low;
  • Stability control activated or off.


While green or blue is typical, these symbols are low priority and most often changed according to the aesthetics of the vehicle’s interior. These symbols should be acknowledged but usually are only illuminated for the driver’s convenience. Some examples are:

  • Hood, trunk or doors ajar;
  • Low fuel;
  • Washer fluid low;
  • Headlights, highbeams or foglights;
  • Cruise control indicator;
  • Defrost activated;
  • Regular service reminder;
  • Turn signal indicators.

The above rundown is only a guide as we can’t stress enough that they vary from vehicle to vehicle. Read your driver’s manual closely and cross-reference it with your vehicle’s actual dashboard. If you have any questions or concerns, contact or visit the experts at Park Muffler today.


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