There’s nothing quite as disconcerting as suddenly seeing a red or yellow warning light on your dashboard.

Understanding what those symbols mean can be the difference between a simple 10-minute check-up and expensive repairs or even irreparable damage. Your dashboard lights are there to tell you when something is wrong, but not all manufacturers use the same symbols, so it’s important to consult your owner’s manual to get familiar the specific symbols for your make and model. This guide will help you get a start to understanding what your vehicle is telling you.