Well most of you call them “idiot lights”. Now, why, I don’t know because they’re a valuable part of instrument cluster and other parts of your car. What I can tell you is that the only idiot involved here is person who ignores their so-called idiot lights. Because they’re trying to tell you something. And no, they don’t lie all the time. These lights are very, and I do mean very, reliable.

Now there are basically three grades of warning lights. There is the green light. the green lights means that something is working and it’s working properly. That’s something that you don’t have to worry about. Green means go. But then you have yellow lights. Well yellow lights mean - just like they do at the traffic signal - they mean caution. Something is or is about to go wrong, and you need to pay attention. And you need to know what that means so that you know exactly what evasive maneuvers you need to perform. But then of course we have the granddaddy of them all, and that is the red warning light.

Now if you’re on the highway and you come up against a traffic signal  that’s red, it doesn’t mean stop another block down the road; another mile; or anything like that. It means stop right now. And the red warning light on your dash? That means exactly the same thing. Because a red warning light means you don’t have oil pressure, or your engine is seriously overheated or something like that. So, what that means is that that extra mile or that extra block could cost you an engine.

So the key here is: pay attention to warning lights. Number one: look at your owner’s manual and see what each one of the warning lights on your dash means, so that you know what to do when one of them comes up. And remember that green means go, yellow means caution, and red means stop right now. And if you have a question or a comment, drop me a line right here at MotorWeek.