How many times have you been driving when, suddenly, a dashboard warning light pops up, but you’re not quite sure you know what’s wrong? Even though our Young Drivers of Canada course covers typical dashboard warning lights, I always remind my students that it’s a good idea to refresh their knowledge by reviewing the owner’s manual of the car they’ll be driving.
A few years ago while I was relaxing at home, a friend called me to ask what a certain dashboard light meant. Since we had the same type of vehicle, he wanted me to check my owner’s manual for him. When I asked why he couldn’t check it himself, he explained that he left his owner’s manual on his desk at home. Shouldn’t the owner’s manual be in the glove box? Wouldn’t that help if the light came on while you were driving?
When I was involved with Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery Network, we had a participant who drove for quite awhile with the ‘check engine’ light on. He basically ignored it and kept on driving. What if the problem caused a loss of control or major mechanical damage to the vehicle? The reason that there are warning lights is to allow the driver the opportunity to fix a problem before it becomes a serious danger.
When I get a chance to speak to drivers about certain driving problems I ask them if a warning light came on. They often say that either they never noticed a light or didn’t know it was a serious problem when they saw the light. If the warning light is red or yellow, consider it to be something that has to be taken care of immediately. Please don’t assume that it will take care of itself. Even you have to see a doctor or dentist from time to time. Also, don’t pretend you know the meaning or response to a warning light. If you don’t know, check your owner’s manual and find out right away. This is why you need the manual in your vehicle. Driving along can perhaps damage your vehicle more severely.
Since vehicles have a variety of different warning lights, take some time out of your day before you drive a vehicle for the first time and familiarize yourself with the gauges and warning lights. Learn the meaning and responses to each light and gauge. Those few minutes could save you frustration and cash!