The Rocket’s Red Glare, Understanding Vehicle Warning Lights
The rocket’s red glare is a line from the National Anthem and was written by Francis Scott Key during the war of 1812. He was on a ship in Baltimore Harbor watching the Battle of Baltimore and was moved to pen the poem when the stars and stripes was still flying at its conclusion. The text describes bombs exploding, and the allusion that the destruction of Baltimore was imminent, if not for the flag that inspired the troops to rally to victory. The American flag is a symbol of our nation and a constant reminder of what an amazing country we live in. Today and always, LOF Xpress would like to thank all of our amazing clients for their business, as we know you have the freedom to go wherever you choose for an oil change. It is an honor to serve our customers in Ames and Ankeny and we look forward to many more fruitful years by your side.
As the flag is a symbol of our nation, your car has many different symbols that may pop up from time to time. We see them lurking in the dash at the most inopportune moments. Now, most of the common vehicle warning lights that you will see are not necessarily an indication that your car is going to explode or anything, but usually when these lights are steadily illuminated, there is an issue. Many of these warning lights in the dash coincide with an engine, transmission or general vehicle code. These codes are accessible through a scan tool that, when hooked up to the vehicle, provides all sorts of information about the vehicle. Think of it as the “black box” we are all so familiar with on aircraft. The computer stores information about much of the vehicle. Yes, it is almost like your car is spying on you because, in essence, it actually is! Parameters are stored in the computer and when one of these parameters is breached, a warning light will appear on the dashboard.
In their infancy, the vehicle warning lights were referred to as idiot lights, of course this could not be further from the truth as these lights are full of valuable information. It does seem that automotive engineers are completely in love with connecting every little function to some sort of a light. A few of the lights we have are: running lights, door indicator, dome light light, low windshield fluid light, and many more. These are relatively benign and do not necessarily indicate a problem. The other, less common lights that may pop up on your dash are nothing to mess around with. Here are a few of the important lights on your dash that warrant attention when they are illuminated.
The granddaddy of all the dash lights, the check engine light can indicate many different things related to the engine. When the light is on and does not go away after a few key cycles, there is a persistent problem that needs attention. Many times this light will be tied to a problem with the ignition system, occurring when there is a misfire. As misfires are fairly uncommon these days, the emissions system is the most common culprit causing the check engine light to illuminate. Emissions systems in 2017 are extremely complex and if one small issue is detected the entire system will suffer. Of course, on older vehicles the check engine light can be a sign that the fuel cap was left off or is only partially closed. An easy way to tell if the problem is consistent is to check your fuel cap and gasket, then cycle your key switch a few times. This will trick the computer into thinking that the required number of key cycles has been reached and the light may go away. If not, is is best to get it looked at as soon as possible. If the check engine light is blinking, this is a misfire condition and the vehicle should not be driven until inspected by a professional.
If your airbag light is illuminated, there may or may not be a serious issue with the air bag. Regardless, a vehicle with the airbag light illuminated should not be driven, particularly if the airbag has not been deployed. This could indicate many different problems and an airbag can severely injure or kill someone if it deploys at the wrong time.
The oil pressure warning is another light that should never be ignored is the low oil pressure light. This light indicates that the lubrication system in the engine is either too low or not functioning for one reason or another. It is advised that when this light turns on the engine should be immediately shut down when it is safe enough to do so.
The anti-lock brakes on your car are a very valuable safety feature. Anti-lock brakes work like this: in the event of a hard braking event, the brakes will pulsate creating a grip/coast type situation. This happens extremely fast and is controlled by a specialized pump that creates the pulsation. If this pump is malfunctioning, or any component of the ABS system, the light will pop on on the dash. Your anti-lock brakes are an important safety system and should be inspected as soon as possible.
This light is exactly what should prompt you to call LOF Xpress and set up an appointment. This light is indicating that your engine is in need of an oil change and it is not wise to disregard this warning. When you neglect to change your oil at the recommended intervals, you risk reducing the life of your engine. When oil has been used up, its effectiveness is greatly diminished and can encourage increased wear and sludge deposits in your engine.
If any of these lights are illuminated, stop on in; we can change your oil and look things over to make sure you are driving a safe vehicle. Contact us today!