What 15 Symbols On Your Car's Dashboard Mean

VikiVector/iStock via Getty Images
VikiVector/iStock via Getty Images

When something goes wrong with your car or if a feature you should know about gets activated, a signal funnels through the electrical system and into the dashboard. This illuminates a hieroglyphic, and these cover a wide range of issues—some of which may be serious. Here are the meanings behind 15 of these curious-looking markers (and what they look like, in case you need a mnemonic device to help your memory).

Your dashboard may be different and the symbols may have altered designs or indicate slightly different things, so be sure to consult your owner’s manual. Some of these lights could portend a serious malfunction. Don't ignore them. When in doubt, have a professional check it out. (For more information on dashboard symbols for all types of cars, check out this resource.)

1. Engine Temperature Warning Light

Car dashboard's engine temperature warning light
iStock

What it looks like: A pirate ship with its sails down as if to say, “I’m just a normal boat, no pirates here.”

What it means: Your engine is too hot, friend. Here is a useful guide for what to do if your engine overheats.

2. Tire Pressure Warning Light

Car dashboard's tire pressure warning light
iStock

What it looks like: A Buckingham Palace guard telling you the field goal is GOOD!

What it means: The pressure in one or more of your tires is too low and needs to be attended to.

3. Oil Pressure Warning

Car dashboard's oil pressure warning
iStock

What it looks like: You’re about to get three wishes.

What it means: Your engine is running low on oil, or there is a problem with your car's oil pressure system.

4. Traction Control

Car dashboard's traction control
iStock

What it looks like: Cthulhu wearing a fedora.

What it means: The car's traction control system is engaged.

5. Engine Warning

Car dashboard's engine warning
iStock

What it looks like: Yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine.

What it means: It can blink on for a number of reasons. Read about some of those here.

6. Antilock Brake Warning

Car dashboard's antilock brake warning
iStock

What it looks like: The cover of a fitness magazine.

What it means: There is an issue with your anti-lock brake system that needs to be diagnosed and fixed.

7. Automatic Shift Lock or Engine Start Indicator

Car's automatic shift lock or engine start indicator
iStock

What it looks like: The bat signal, if Bruce Wayne had been traumatized in a shoe closet instead of a bat cave as a child.

What it means: You need to engage the brake, either to start your car's ignition or to get it out of neutral.

8. Battery Alert

Car dashboard's battery alert
iStock

What it looks like: Math LEGO.

What it means: The car's charging system is short of power. You are running solely on battery.

9. Fuel Indicator Symbol

Car dashboard's fuel indicator
iStock

What it looks like: A snake-infested ATM.

What it means: You are running low on fuel. Fun fact: The symbol on the fuel gauge also has an arrow next to it—this indicates which side of the car has the gas cap. No more gas station three-point turns in rental cars ever again.

10. Seatbelt Reminder Light

Car dashboard's seatbelt reminder light
iStock

What it looks like: James Carville wearing a bandolier.

What it means: Buckle your seatbelt, please.

11. Airbag Indicator

Car dashboard's airbag indicator
iStock

What it looks like: A man wearing a tie, shaking his fist at you as he falls down. Why did you push him?

What it means: There may be an issue with one or more of your car's airbags, or the airbag system in general.

12. Fog Lamp Indicator

Car dashboard's fog indicator
iStock

What it looks like: A jellyfish leaping through a waterfall.

What it means: Your fog lights are on.

13. Security Light

Car dashboard's security light
iStock

What it looks like: They put a boot on your car and your car is also covered in icicles. This has been the worst winter ever.

What it means: You may need a key with the proper transponder in order to trigger the ignition. Or, there is something else wrong with your car's anti-theft system.

14. Traction Control Malfunction

Car dashboard's traction control malfunction
iStock

What it looks like: Pyramid on the dollar bill ... or is that what the Illuminati wants you to think it looks like?

What it means: There is an issue with your anti-skid system, and it may be shut off completely.

15. Washer Fluid Indicator

Car dashboard's washer fluid indicator
iStock

What it looks like: A conductor's point of view, tapping her music stand and preparing to lead an orchestra consisting of two candy canes that are stuck together.

What it means: The washer fluid level is low. Please fill that up when you get a chance.

Turn Your LEGO Bricks Into a Drone With the Flybrix Drone Kit

Flyxbrix/FatBrain
Flyxbrix/FatBrain

Now more than ever, it’s important to have a good hobby. Of course, a lot of people—maybe even you—have been obsessed with learning TikTok dances and baking sourdough bread for the last few months, but those hobbies can wear out their welcome pretty fast. So if you or someone you love is looking for something that’s a little more intellectually stimulating, you need to check out the Flybrix LEGO drone kit from Fat Brain Toys.

What is a Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit?

The Flybrix drone kit lets you build your own drones out of LEGO bricks and fly them around your house using your smartphone as a remote control (via Bluetooth). The kit itself comes with absolutely everything you need to start flying almost immediately, including a bag of 56-plus LEGO bricks, a LEGO figure pilot, eight quick-connect motors, eight propellers, a propeller wrench, a pre-programmed Flybrix flight board PCB, a USB data cord, a LiPo battery, and a USB LiPo battery charger. All you’ll have to do is download the Flybrix Configuration Software, the Bluetooth Flight Control App, and access online instructions and tutorials.

Experiment with your own designs.

The Flybrix LEGO drone kit is specifically designed to promote exploration and experimentation. All the components are tough and can totally withstand a few crash landings, so you can build and rebuild your own drones until you come up with the perfect design. Then you can do it all again. Try different motor arrangements, add your own LEGO bricks, experiment with different shapes—this kit is a wannabe engineer’s dream.

For the more advanced STEM learners out there, Flybrix lets you experiment with coding and block-based coding. It uses an arduino-based hackable circuit board, and the Flybrix app has advanced features that let you try your hand at software design.

Who is the Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit for?

Flybrix is a really fun way to introduce a number of core STEM concepts, which makes it ideal for kids—and technically, that’s who it was designed for. But because engineering and coding can get a little complicated, the recommended age for independent experimentation is 13 and up. However, kids younger than 13 can certainly work on Flybrix drones with the help of their parents. In fact, it actually makes a fantastic family hobby.

Ready to start building your own LEGO drones? Click here to order your Flybrix kit today for $198.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

7 Online Tech Course Programs That Will Help You Build New Career Skills

dusanpetkovic/iStock via Getty Images Plus
dusanpetkovic/iStock via Getty Images Plus

It's always a good time to build new career skills, and with these tech-related courses, you can learn anything from the basics of Python to the ins and outs of G Suite. These courses will boost your knowledge of the digital world and help you put some valuable new bullet points on your resume. Many of these courses allow you to read through the materials for free, but if you want to take advantage of graded coursework and earn a certificate of completion to include on your LinkedIn profile or resume at the end, there will be a fee of anywhere from $39 to $49.

1. UI/UX Design Specialization

In this four-class specialization on UI/UX design, you’ll discover how to design digital experiences that users can navigate with ease. Over about four months, you’ll learn the basics of visual communication and you’ll be able to practice gathering user feedback to build intuitive, attractive websites and interfaces.

Sign up on Coursera to take all four courses in this specialization for $49 a month.

2. Python for Everybody

Python is quickly gaining ground as one of the most in-demand programming languages for employers. Plus, its fans say it’s highly readable and approachable for new programmers just starting to learn a coding language. If you want to understand the basics of Python, from 101 principles to more advanced database design, these courses will get you started.

Sign up on Coursera to take all five courses in this specialization for $49 a month.

3. Data Science Professional Certificate

Data science is one of the fastest growing professions in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In this nine-course professional certificate program, you’ll start by learning basic data science methodology before moving into how to use Python and SQL to analyze and visualize data to forecast future trends. IBM estimates that you’ll complete the entire certificate in about 10 months if you commit four hours per week, but the timing is flexible enough to suit any schedule.

Sign up on Coursera to take all nine courses in this specialization for $39 a month.

4. Computer Architecture

This course, taught by an electrical engineering professor at Princeton, teaches students how to design computer hardware that supports powerful software. But be forewarned: This is an advanced class intended for students with extensive knowledge in computer science. If you’re looking for a beginner-level course, this class—also from Princeton—may be a better fit.

Sign up on Coursera for free.

5. AI for Everyone

If you’re worried that artificial intelligence will drive you out of the workforce, this course will help. Over the course of four weeks, you’ll learn the basics of what is and isn’t possible through AI—and you may even gain some ideas for how to use AI to augment your own career.

Sign up on Coursera for $49.

6. G Suite Administration Specialization

Become a Google Cloud expert with this series of courses put together by Google itself. Over about two months, you’ll learn management tactics and security guidelines for using Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, and Calendar. This specialization prepares participants to become G Suite administrators at their respective companies and organizations.

Sign up on Coursera to take all five courses in this specialization for $49 a month.

7. Introduction to Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is near the top of the list of skills employers are looking for, according to LinkedIn. In this introductory course, you’ll gain a basic understanding of cloud-based networks and get some practice working with IBM Cloud.

Sign up on Coursera for $49.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.