Did you know the meaning of these 10 special and uncommon warning lights?

How do car manufacturers get that one specific warning displayed in icon form? It is a great challenge that the designers of dashboards have to deal with. Dashboard lights like the high beam, the parking brake and the direction indicators light up daily and are therefore well known. However, there are also several icons that are quite rare and not as well known. That's why we summed up the ten most special warning lights!

Variabele achterspoiler

Variable rear spoiler

No, it is not the trunk that is open as soon as this light comes on! This icon, where the back of a car with two arrows is depicted, refers to an error in the operation of the rear spoiler. Many sporty cars nowadays have an adaptive rear spoiler. Once the car exceeds a certain speed, more downforce is required to keep the car stable on the road. This is the signal for the rear spoiler to extend and open further. This makes the spoiler at normal speeds much less noticeable on the car, but you still have the advantages of the spoiler when you really need it.

De katalysator

The catalyst

This light immediately reminded us of a sandwich maker that was heating up. However, the reality is different: this warning light indicates that there is a problem with the catalytic converter. Together with the lambda sensor, this part monitors the vapors emitted from the engine. A defect in this part will cause the ECU to calculate the mixing ratio slightly differently, making the car less efficient to drive. But what exactly can break down such a catalyst?

The interior of a catalytic converter consists of a honeycomb design that increases the surface area in contact with the air. Over time, the metal in this component can deteriorate and clog the holes in this honeycomb, leading to overheating. As soon as this light comes on, it is also advisable to measure the lambda sensor carefully!

Het luchtfilter is vies of verstopt

The air filter is dirty or clogged

If you know what the light of a clogged particulate filter looks like, this will be an easy one to guess. Just like with the clogged diesel particulate filter, this icon has also chosen for a number of small circles in a faulty component. The framed circles with an arrow pointing from top to bottom means that there is an error with the air filter: it is dirty or perhaps even clogged. Contamination of the filter causes the air supply to the engine to deteriorate, which of course has a direct impact on the engine's performance.


Power limitation

When we saw this icon we not only had to laugh very hard, but we also felt the struggle that the designers must have had. Nevertheless, it is perhaps the most brilliant warning light in existence: the turtle. And what do you first think of with a turtle? Precisely: that he is slow. That is exactly what this icon stands for! As soon as this light comes on in an electric car, it means that the range of the car is very low. This causes the car to go into "slow mode" to preserve as much battery capacity as possible. As soon as the circled turtle in a hybrid car lights up, it will be red and it means that the car has run out of fuel and only runs on the high voltage batteries. The range of these batteries is limited, so it is important to drive to the petrol station as soon as possible.

Lage instap geactiveerd

Low entry activated

What could this light be? We understand that this icon is not immediately known to you, since this dashboard light has been used in few cars. This light turns green when the car lowers itself for a low entry to ensure easy entry into the car. This light is only available on cars that use the so-called "height control features".


Night vision assistance

This light, with a moon and a piece of road surface, is a dashboard light that you only find in modern cars of the higher segment. This light will come on as soon as something is wrong with the night vision assistance. As soon as this light turns orange, you have to go to the garage to get the Night Vision Assistant working again.

Frontale botsing

Frontal collision

Well, a light that only shows the front of a car that can light up in green, orange and red. That can be anything, right? This is the light that comes on to warn you of a head-on collision. This smart system uses the Advanced Cruise Control (ACC) to warn you of approaching obstacles. Think, for example, of a stationary vehicle on the road, or perhaps the door of the garage. As soon as the car lights up green (usually depicted in an equally green triangle), the warning system is active and as soon as the orange or red lights up, you need to brake as soon as possible.

Problemen met Brake Assist en Anti-Slip Systeem

Problems with Brake Assist and Anti-Slip System

That something is wrong with the wheels of the car soon makes sense, but what exactly does this warning light mean? This light, which shows a wheel with two arrows, indicates that there are problems with the Brake Assist system, so that the anti-slip functionality no longer works properly. The brake assist helps the driver in an emergency, when the brake pedal is pressed to the maximum.

Electronic Throttle Control

Electronic Throttle Control

This light with a lightning bolt between two inverted brackets indicates that there is a problem with the car's Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) system. The ETC provides an electronic connection between the accelerator and the throttle. Restarting the car can help in some cases to fix the problem, but otherwise there is no other option than to take the car to the garage and fix it there!

Problemen met de lambda- / zuurstofsensor

Problems with the lambda / oxygen sensor

This is a light that can only be found in the somewhat older vehicles. This green icon may look like an inverted Greek Y, but it is the eleventh letter of the Greek alphabet. This letter means "Lambda", which means that there is a problem with the lambda / oxygen sensor! This sensor will become contaminated over time, requiring cleaning or replacement of the sensor. Since this sensor provides important information to the ECU, it is important to do this as soon as possible. Today, errors with the lambda sensor can often be recognized by a lit engine management lamp (MIL light).