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Car Dashboard Symbols: A Beginner’s Guide For New Drivers

Car dashboard symbols can be confusing even for the most experienced of drivers. Since passing my driving test 2 months ago, I’ve even avoided driving in the dark. Countless number of hours studying the Highway Code and even more learning to drive hasn’t eradicated my fear of the dashboard warning lights and switches. Don’t get me wrong, I know where I press to put the lights on however I’m still unsure as to whether my lights are emitting that lovely light glow or whether they’re in full on interrogation mode. This coupled with the winking robot and gravy dinner lights means that I’m a complete wreck…

Winking robot? Gravy dinner lights? I know you probably haven’t heard of them… until now. As a new driver, I have done my research and have come up with a quick guide to help you understand a number of car dashboard symbols, all with the help of my three year old daughter.

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Air Bag Warning Light

AKA: The Hungry Child: This is perhaps the most worrying of the lights. This light signals child starvation mode – not a morsel can be found not even your secret stash of lollipops (that’s what the picture signifies!). If the air bag warning notification lights up on your dashboard, you need to get in touch with your car manufacturer to assess the problem. It may signify a problem with your seat-belts or may also mean that the crash sensors have been activated within the vehicle.

Oil Pressure Warning Light

AKA: The Gravy Dinner: The saviour of the hungry child. This light indicates that dinner is being prepared at home. In my mind, this light should be bigger - “look kids, gravy dinner” doesn’t work so well when it’s smaller than a 5p piece and sat in the middle of your dashboard. This symbol may occur on your car dashboard if your engine has lost oil pressure. If you see this warning light, then make sure you pull over to the side of the road immediately and turn off the engine.

Full Beam Headlight

AKA: The Jellyfish: This is not actually a warning light but if it does pop up on your dashboard then handle with caution. I have never been too fond of jellyfish since being bitten as a child. This particular jellyfish has the potential to cause accidents through blinding fellow motorists. Another reason not to like jellyfish! You can use the full beam headlight late at night, when visibility may be limited. However, you need to make sure that you switch back to dipped headlights as soon as you see another vehicle approaching.

Defrost Windscreen

AKA: The Snakes: This light was extremely confusing until my daughter explained that it was to warn off a snake attack. Snakes are attracted by warm engines and the smell of petrol fumes supposedly. They also enjoy the feeling of alloy against their scaly skin – dangerous really – getting a snake in your alloy. In cold weather conditions, your windscreen may be frozen. This is the perfect time to whack the heaters on and turn on ‘the snakes’. Your windscreen should be clear in no time, ensuring maximum visibility and safety for your journey ahead.

Battery Warning Light

AKA: The Winking Robot: The winking robot is your friend and he is there to empower you to drive well. When this lights up, he’s saying “you’re driving great pal!”. The battery warning light turns on when your battery is low. If this is the case, you should look to either contact or drive to your local garage.

This blog post focuses on motoring through the eyes of a child. We see a flat battery, they see a winking robot. We see a oil pressure warning light, they see a gravy dinner. It is extremely important that you can understand your car dashboard symbols as one time, they might be serious.

If you need help remembering car dashboard symbols, try symbolising what the image looks like. I know for sure, that I will never forget what the ‘snakes’ or the ‘winking robot’ stands for. If you are a new driver and you are driving along the road and see ‘hungry child’ warning light pop up then don’t panic. You now know what it means and you now know what to do.

Why don’t you show this blog post to your child and see what they come up with? You could be in for a shock, I certainly was. If you enjoyed this blog post, then feel free to share this infographic on your own website using the code above. Alternatively, we also have a number of other interesting blog posts such as ‘10 Unusual Facts About Tyres’ and our ‘Winter Driving Tips’ which can be found in our blogs section.

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