What Does It Mean When the Engine Temperature Warning Light Comes on?
The light indicates that your engine temperature is too hot or too cold. And that’s not good news because your car engine needs to be at a specific temperature to work properly.
Usually, the engine temperature warning light comes on when you start the car, but it should go off once the engine has started. This is normal, but if the light stays on or flashes while driving, especially if it’s the red symbol, you should take action right away. See the details below.
High Engine Temperature Warning Light (Red)
The appearance of the engine temperature warning light can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Refer to our Dash Lights Lookup for more details.
As mentioned above, when you turn on your car, the warning light usually lights up in red for a couple of seconds. But if the light start stays illuminated, it’s a sign that your engine is overheating.
Low Engine Temperature Warning Light (Blue)
In contrast, if you see a blue engine temperature warning light – it’s not as serious as a red one.
This light only appears when the engine coolant temperature is low and will turn off once the engine is warm.
However, suppose the low engine temperature light stays on even after the engine has warmed up. It could be due to a malfunctioning temperature sensor. In this case, you should inspect and replace the sensor.
Can I Still Drive With the Engine Temperature Warning Light On?
No, you shouldn’t continue driving once you notice the warning light. Continuing to drive your vehicle with the warning light can cause severe engine damage, resulting in costly repairs.
If the red warning light comes on while driving, it’s important to pull over to a safe location and turn off the engine. Then, follow my guide below.
Why Is the Engine Temperature Warning Light On?
There are several reasons why the warning light may be on, including:
What to Do When the Engine Temperature Warning Light Comes on?
If the engine temperature warning light comes on while you’re driving, take the following steps:
Step 1: Pull over safely and let the engine cool down
Find a safe place to pull over and turn off the engine.
Wait for the engine to cool down before opening the hood to avoid hot steam or coolant injury. This may take 30 minutes to an hour.
Step 2: Check the coolant level
- Open the hood and locate the coolant reservoir. In most cars, the reservoir is situated behind the engine bay and is easily recognized by the coolant symbol on the cap.
- Check the coolant level in the reservoir. The coolant level should be between the minimum and maximum marks.
- Add the coolant til it reaches the “Max” mark.
Note: Don’t forget to use the recommended type of coolant as specified in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
Step 3: Inspect coolant leaks
Check for any coolant leaks in the reservoir, radiator cap, or other leaks.
If there are no leaks, move to the next step.
Step 4: Use an OBD2 scanner to find the cause
You can use an OBD2 scanner to diagnose the problem yourself. This will save you diagnostic costs.
- Connect the scanner to the car’s OBD port.
- Turn the ignition on.
- Select the “Read Codes” function on the scanner to search for the codes.
- Figure out what the code means by using the DTC Lookup Library on the scanner or going to the OBD2 Codes Lookup. You will find meaning, causes, symptoms, and fixes.
Step 5: Repair the broken or malfunctioning parts
Once you find the problem, make repairs immediately. If you cannot handle it yourself, consult a mechanic.
Step 6: Reset the light
Once done, choose the “Erase” function on the scanner to clear the trouble codes.
Next, restart your engine and go for a test drive. The light will be gone.
Don’t let the engine temperature warning light damper your driving experience. With the knowledge and tools provided in this guide, you can confidently tackle the warning light head-on and keep your engine running smoothly.
Remember always to have your OBD2 scanner in case of emergencies. Read more in my review of the Best OBD2 Scanners.
In case you have any concerns related to dealing with the light, let me know in the comment box below.