Volvo Dashboard Warning Lights

Your Volvo comes equipped with numerous warning lights designed to alert you to trouble or remind you that it's time to schedule maintenance. Ignoring any of these warning lights can come with serious consequences, which is why it's important to respond appropriately. To do that, however, you need to understand what each warning light means, so follow this handy guide if you see one of these warning lights on your dashboard.

Understand the Basic Symbols

Most Volvo models feature both warning and control lights on the instrument panel. Warning symbols appear red and illuminate when the system detects an issue that potentially affects the car's drivability. Control system lights are generally yellow when illuminated, and a text appears on the information display to alert you to the problem. For example, one of the most recognizable control system lights looks like a gas pump, which indicates that there's a low level of fuel in the tank.

While you should never ignore a control system light, it's important to note that red warning lights are more urgent and should be taken seriously.

Low Oil Pressure Light

Volvo Oil Pressure Light

A low oil pressure warning may indicate a sudden drop in oil pressure, which could result in irreversible engine damage. The low oil pressure light is pretty easy to spot, as it looks like a fuel can with a little bit of oil dripping from the end. Certain types of engines don't have systems to warn drivers of oil pressure loss, and when that's the case, those models won't have this symbol. Instead, the warning may be displayed via text.


Fault in Brake System Light

Brake Light Warning

Displaying the text "Brake" with an exclamation sign above it, this symbol indicates that there's a serious fault in the car's brake system. In some models, this same light is used when the parking or service brake is engaged, which should remind you to disengage the extra brake before putting the car in motion.

The light will also come on if the car's brake fluid levels are low, if there's excessive wear on the brake pads or linings, or if the brake system malfunctions. If the light remains on after attempting to disengage the parking brake, you could be faced with a serious brake issue and should bring the car in for inspection.

Check Engine Light

Volvo Engine Light

One of the most common warning lights is the check engine light, which can indicate a number of issues that aren't necessarily threatening. If your Volvo's check engine light comes on, you could simply be faced with a loose gas cap or faulty oxygen sensor, but it also indicates that your car needs to be serviced right away. To avoid bigger problems resulting from engine malfunction, never drive your car with the check engine light on for an extended period of time unless a technician has found that the light itself is malfunctioning.

Airbag SRS Light

Airbag Warning Light

The airbag warning light often looks like a round, inflated airbag in front of a seated passenger, but some models may display this light via text, such as with "SRS Airbag Service Urgent." If you see this warning light illuminate, the system is indicating that there's a fault in the airbag system. Unless you have the airbags checked, they might fail to deploy in the event of an accident.

Seatbelt Reminder

volvo Seatbelt Warning Light

The seatbelt reminder light is fairly straightforward, depicting a seated person with a seatbelt strapped across him. It's common sense (not to mention the law) to secure your seatbelt before putting the car into motion, but if you're the type who tends to forget until you've driven down the road a couple of miles, the seatbelt reminder light can help. Some models also pair the visual seatbelt reminder with an audible alarm, ensuring that everyone is buckled up and ready to go.

Alternator Not Charging Light

Volvo Alternator Light

If your Volvo's alternator goes bad, the car will eventually die because the battery cannot recharge. Although this is a rare occurrence, the "alternator not charging" warning light is a helpful indicator that there's something internally wrong with your vehicle. This light looks like a car battery with a minus and plus signal on either end, alerting you to the fact that the system issue could potentially affect your Volvo's battery. When you see this warning light, immediately schedule an inspection to ensure that your car doesn't die on you and leave you stranded

Warning/Safety Light

Many Volvo models feature a basic red warning light that looks like a triangle, which may or may not be accompanied by an explanatory text display. This is one of the more serious warning lights that indicates there's an issue in the car's system that could affect its drivability or cause safety issues. The symbol will remain illuminated until the issue has been rectified, and it may also illuminate in conjunction with another warning light, depending on the issue. Never drive your vehicle if this warning light comes on or if you can't identify the issue. Instead, contact the service department to determine the best course of action.

ABS Warning Light

ABS Warning Light

When there's a fault in the antilock braking system, the ABS warning light will illuminate. This light consists of a circle with the initials ABS in the center. When this light comes on, you may have an issue with your car's brake system, which requires immediate service. In most cases, the vehicle will still be safe to drive and provide you with ample opportunity to get the car to the service department for closer inspection.

Tire Pressure System Light

Volvo TPMS Warning

A horseshoe-shaped light with an exclamation point in the center, the tire pressure system light indicates that your Volvo's tire pressure is too low. This can indicate a sudden drop in tire pressure that comes with a flat tire, but it can also indicate a slow leak or other problem that needs to be addressed right away. When tire pressure is out of whack, your car experiences reduced fuel efficiency, so it's not something you want to put off having checked.

ABL Fault Light

Resembling a bird's-eye view of an illuminated headlight against a curve, the ABL fault light indicates an issue with your Volvo's active bending lights system. The ABL system automatically adjusts your car's headlights to help light up a curve. While a fault in this system isn't life-threatening, it can be annoying if you've come to rely on the system.

Fuel Warning Light

Fuel Warning Light

Running out of gas is a major hassle, but it's completely avoidable thanks to your Volvo's fuel indicator and the handy fuel warning light, which illuminates when you need to make a pit stop for more gas. The fuel warning light only comes on when your tank is getting dangerously close to empty. So as soon as you notice it, start looking for the nearest gas station. If you're in unfamiliar territory, your Volvo's handy navigation system can help you locate the nearest pump

Whether you own a late-model Volvo or one of the used high-mileage variety, it's important to review your owner's manual so you can study your car's warning lights for yourself. Knowing these warning symbols can help you avoid potentially dangerous situations, so keep an eye out for them.

Get Service for Your Volvo

Seeing an indicator light on your dash? It might be time to take your car in for service. Schedule an appointment online today.

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