(Suleiman Munyua) Despite the fact that we are slowly embracing technology and all the fine short cuts that it offers to us in our cars, we still find ourselves dumbfounded when our cars stall in the middle of the highway during rush hour with a couple of brightly colored lights blinking on the dash board.
Contrary to popular belief, the lights on your dashboard are warning lights; they are not flashy decorations that are there to appease the driver. They are an indication that your car needs some mechanical attention in a particular area.
Try this when you get into your car. Put your keys in the ignition and turn it to the point you see all the lights on the dash board go on. Look at the different displays and ensure that they are all working and try and identify what each one of the means. Some crafty mechanics who do not know how to repair electrical faults especially when it comes to the newer model cars or sensors will quickly pluck a bulb from the socket and tell you that they have fixed the issue for you.
While this might offer temporary relief this could be dangerous because the light is an indication that something is not right and could create an even bigger problem and you might never know until the car stalls on the road.
The best way to deal with these flashing lights is have the car undergo a computerized diagnostic check. This will tell you exactly where the problem is and avoid repeat visits to and from the mechanic who will be trying to guess where the problem is based on his “lack of training” on modern systems.
The most common light that you will encounter is the ‘fuel light that is usually orange in most cars and indicates that fact that you are using the reserve fuel and should gas up at the nearest station. As I keep saying, make Google your friend and find out what these lights mean so you know the seriousness of the problem and are not taken for a ride.
Better still, find the common problems that your particular model has so you keep abreast with the ‘health status’ of your vehicle.
A sample of a car that gets a good level of abuse of lights is the Toyota Prado KZJ 95. Many unscrupulous mechanics usually tamper with the ABS bulb when the car has an issue with the speed sensor or the check engine bulb.
They will rewire the clock and connect the oil light with the check engine, ABS system and Airbag system to create an illusion that the car is in tip top shape while it is not.
Newer models of BMWs, Audis and Mercedes will most of the time tell you where there is a malfunction and the sooner you get the issue addressed the better.
So if you are enjoying “the festive season” earlier than the rest of the world and have lights flashing on your dashboard, take sometime out to have it checked. That is just the calm before the storm.