All Woman

Dashboard 101: know the symbols

By PATRICK FOSTER fosterp@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 21, 2012    

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YOUR dashboard is always communicating with you. There's a problem, however, if you do not understand all that it's saying.

The dashboard's instrument panel, through its symbols and lights, represents the quickest way to know what's happening with a vehicle. Symbols on the dash provide critical information on its operation, but you have to know exactly what each represents to make decisions on what action to take.

Instrument clusters and symbols have evolved over the years, but there are many that have become standardised.

A speedometer for instance is straightforward, but be cognizant of the miles per hour (mph) reading opposed to kilometres per hour (kph).

And in modern vehicles, the universal seatbelt reminder symbol is easily recognisable. Normally accompanied by an annoying high-pitched audio if a seatbelt is unbuckled, it's hard to miss.

Other standard symbols include:

* Battery warning light. If this light is on while driving, it signals that there is a malfunction in the battery charging system. Check your battery immediately.

* ABS warning light. This comes on when there is something wrong with the anti-lock braking system. The ABS light is activated once the engine is started but it automatically goes off after a few seconds.

* Engine warning light. This indicator signals a problem in the engine, typically the intake and emissions system, or oil, and requires that the vehicle be serviced immediately.

* Oil pressure warning. When this light is on it recommends that the vehicle is to be immediately stopped and the engine oil level checked.

* Warning light. For those models with this symbol in the dash, when on, it signifies an unidentified problem in the car and requires that the vehicle be serviced.

* Tyre pressure monitor. This comes on if the tyre pressure is low. Typically, the symbol does not say which tyre, but low tyre pressure increases fuel usage.

Next week we'll highlight more about the dashboard, its symbols and their meanings.

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