Ever wondered what those warning symbols on your VW’s dashboard mean? We’ll walk you through the meanings behind the VW dashboard warning lights to ensure you know what to do next in this guide. For the next few months we’ll be updating this article with more information to bring you a large list of VW warning light symbols to cross-check against.
General VW Dashboard Warning Light Colour Meanings
Depending on your model of VW car you have (Volkswagen Polo, Volkswagen Passat, etc.), the dashboard warning lights usually follow the same traffic light colour coding across the range, as described below:
Green: the car systems appear to be working as normal, or it is currently being used.
Yellow: something may not be normal within the car’s systems, so make sure to take care whilst driving and seek to attend to the problem indicated swiftly.
Red: potentially a critical problem with the car systems – you may need to stop when safe and check the issue.
Green VW Dashboard Warning Lights
Cruise Control – light
The cruise control light will appear when you activate the cruise control system on your vehicle. This is to simply inform you that it is in this mode.
Electronic Parking Brake – light
The Electronic Parking Brake light appears whilst the car is in the Auto Hold function and can be disabled manually.
Lane Assist – light
The Lane Assist light is visible when the lane assistance system is active and markings on the road are detected.
Press Brake Pedal – light
If your vehicle is fitted with an automatic transmission then you may experience this press brake pedal information light. It is indicating that you should press the brake pedal whilst moving the gear lever out of park.
Adaptive Cruise Control light
When your car displays this green warning light it usually is referring to either the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Cruise Control or speed limiter being active. Should the light flash then the system is telling you that the maximum speed has been exceeded and it is recommended that you slow down. However, after reducing your speed the light still flashes you may need to visit your local garage for diagnosis and repair.
Yellow VW Dashboard Warning Lights
Emission control/Engine management – warning light
More commonly known as the ‘check engine’ light. This could indicate issues with either the emissions from the engine, the engine itself, or a faulty sensor. It’s advised to seek assistance as soon as you can to diagnose the problem.
Adaptive Suspension Dampers – warning light
Seeing this light appear usually means that action is required, therefore visit your garage as soon as possible.
Adaptive Light System – warning light
Attention to the adaptive light system is required, therefore seek an opinion from your garage as soon as possible.
Automatic Gearbox System – warning light
This light could signal an issue with the gearbox and a potential malfunction. It’s recommended to seek your garage as soon as possible if this warning light fails to disappear so they can assess the issue. You may also receive various on screen messages to help rectify this warning.
Anti-lock Brake System – warning light
The anti-lock brake system light indicates a fault with the brake system. You may experience a lack of ABS and ESP functions although standard braking will continue to work. Seek advice from your garage to correct the issues with the ABS system.
Brake Lights – warning light
The brake lights yellow warning light signals that an exterior brake light is not working correctly. It’s recommended that you check the brake lights and replace any defective bulbs immediately for road safety.
Blind Spot Monitor – warning light
If you notice this yellow warning light briefly appear when activating the blind spot system, it indicates the system is ready for use. When the lamp lights consistently ensure that no objects externally are in your way when manoeuvring.
Bulb Monitoring – warning light
With this bulb monitoring warning light visible, you should check all exterior light bulbs for failures. Replace any faulty bulbs you find on the vehicle and this warning light should then turn off.
Brake Pad Monitoring – warning light
This warning light indicates that the brake pads are worn and will require replacement. See your local garage to replace the pads immediately before the brake discs are affected.
Convertible Roof – warning light
During operation of the convertible roof mechanism this warning light will be present. It should go out once the action is complete. However if the light remains lit ensure that the roof is fully opened or closed by pressing and holding the button associated. If that does not resolve the presence of this warning light, then try the opposite action to see if that helps. Should it not, it’s advised to seek your local garage to correct the issue with the convertible roof system.
Diesel Particulate Filter – warning light
On noticing this warning light, should there be any other warning lights displayed in conjunction with this warning light then seek roadside assistance immediately. If this is the only warning light visible and the fuel gauge is below a quarter of a tank attempt to refill the fuel tank to see if that remedies the situation. If this hasn’t resolved the situation attempt to drive the vehicle for 15 minutes at a speed of 50 miles an hour with revolutions per minute at between 1,800 – 2,500, to help clear the filter. Alternatively, if this doesn’t correct the issue drive to your nearest garage for further assistance.
Electronic Parking Brake – warning light
This warning light indicates that there is a fault with the vehicle’s electronic parking brake. Try to pull over where it is safe and speak to roadside assistance or a local garage for diagnostic and repair.
Engine management lamp – warning light
Should the EPC warning light appear on your dashboard, it’s recommended that you should visit your local garage to seek assessment of the engine and possible repair. Please note that this only affects petrol vehicles.
Electronic Stability Programme – warning light
This warning light refers to the Electronic Stability Programme and will flash occasionally during driving when the system assists your vehicle’s stability from time to time and is perfectly normal. However if the light is on constantly, it’s likely the ESP button has been disengaged. This can be rectified by restarting the vehicle. Otherwise if the lamp is still lit after a restart and the button re-engaged, there maybe a fault with the vehicle which requires diagnosis from a local garage.
Engine Oil Level – warning light
After noticing the engine oil level warning light on your dash, it is highly recommended that you stop the vehicle as soon as it’s safe. Usually this warning light indicates that your engine oil level is low and needs topping up according to your manufacturer’s handbook, which should then resolve the issue. If the light flashes constantly after topping up the oil level then it’s wise to get assistance from your local garage to diagnose the issue.
Glow Plug / Diesel Engine Management Light – warning light
If you notice this light appear after the car has started fully – whether flashing or solid on – then there is likely to be a fault with the engine management system. It’s recommended that you get assistance from your local garage to assess the issue. Otherwise if this light only appears when the ignition is on and disappears after a few seconds, this is normal to indicate that the glow plugs are preheating.
Lane Assist Light – warning light
Should this light appear whilst driving it indicates that the lane assist system can’t recognise road markings, therefore drive with caution. If you find the lane assist light appears in conjunction with a system fault message on the dashboard then you should seek assistance from your local garage to diagnose the problem.
Key not in Vehicle – warning light
If your car has a keyless entry system then the key not in vehicle warning light appears if the key has been removed whilst the engine is on. Make sure that the key remains in the car otherwise the car may not restart without it.
Headlight range control – warning light
Should your car display this warning light there is likely to be a fault occurring with the headlight range control on the vehicle.
Power steering system – warning light
First of all you should check whether the car has been jump started, had the battery disconnected or tampered with. If this is the case, you can try following these steps. Turn the wheel left a full turn and then right a full turn, then start your car and drive for a few miles at a low speed. If the warning light doesn’t turn off, then it’s wise to drive your vehicle (if safe to do so) to your nearest garage to investigate and repair the issue.
Fuel level low – warning light
If you’re witnessing this warning light, then the fuel tank has reached the reserve level and needs to be filled up again. We’d recommend that you visit the nearest fuel station and fill up your tank, otherwise you could run out of fuel. However, if after refuelling the vehicle the warning light remains, it’s recommended to visit your nearest garage to remedy the issue.
Light and Rain Sensor – warning light
This warning light indicates that there is a malfunction with the automatic lights and rain sensors on the vehicle. Normally the lights and wiper blades will function manually but it is advised to visit your nearest garage to rectify the fault as soon as possible.
Press Clutch Pedal – warning light
Should your car be fitted with this light then it’s recommended to heed this warning. When disengaging the gear stick from ‘park’, you should press on the brake pedal whilst moving the gear stick.
Rear Fog Lights – warning light
This light only appears when the rear fog light is engaged. It is advised that your fog lights should only be turned on in foggy conditions, hence the warning light is displayed, helping remind you to prevent dazzling other drivers with your fog lights still on when normal conditions resume.
Rear Spoiler – warning light
There appears to be a malfunction with the rear spoiler on the car. Drive slowly and visit your local garage to assess and repair the issue.
Water detected in diesel tank – warning light
The system has recognised water within the fuel tank when this light appears. Drive slowly and carefully to your nearest local garage to assess and repair the issue. Should the warning light occur directly after refuelling the vehicle, stop the car, turn it off and contact roadside assistance.
Tyre pressure monitor – warning light
This dashboard icon indicates that the tyre pressure monitor system has discovered an issue. When it’s safe to do so stop your vehicle. Then attempt to check the tyre pressures manually. If required inflate the tyres to the correct pressure (unless full tyre repair is necessary) and then return to the dashboard to reset the system to monitor the new correct pressure and you can resume driving. If the warning light returns double-check the tyre pressures again and reset the tyre pressure system again. If all else fails contact roadside assistance for further diagnosis.
Towing hitch – warning light
When noticing this towing hitch warning light, stop the vehicle and check the hitch. It is likely that the towing hitch hasn’t engaged correctly. Attempt to reengage the towing hitch and then return to the dashboard to check that the warning light has disappeared. If it has you can resume your journey. If however the light remains lit, you should contact your local garage for further assessment of the towing hitch system as there is likely to be a fault.
Red VW Dashboard Warning Lights
Brake System – warning light
This light will appear when the handbrake is on (which is a normal warning) but also if there is a fault with the braking system of the car whilst you’re driving. If the handbrake is released and the red ‘exclamation in a circle’ light still is illuminated, then stop your vehicle when it’s safe to do so. If the ABS light also is lit then this could indicate a specific issue with the ‘automatic braking system’. Seek assistance immediately to diagnose the problem.
Recharge AdBlue – warning light
This red warning light indicates that there is no AdBlue range left, meaning that your car won’t be able to restart after the ignition is switched off. A complete top-up is required if this warning light appears in red otherwise the vehicle will not start. This is a feature of the system rather than a fault.
Bonnet – warning light
Attempt to stop the car as soon as it’s safe as this sensor could warn you that the bonnet is not closed properly. Check the bonnet and attempt to close it again. Otherwise if the red warning light continues to be present after closing the bonnet speak with your garage to diagnose the issue.
Airbag & Seat Belt System – warning light
When this light appears on the dash, it implies that there is a fault with either the seatbelt system or the airbag system. It’s recommended to get the airbag assessed as soon as possible, so you can determine the issue and get it repaired.
Door – warning light
Are all the doors closed correctly? If not, then there could be a fault with the door sensors or something else related to the door mechanism. Take your vehicle to the nearest garage to correct the issue.
Engine Cooling System – warning light
When noticing this warning light, immediately switch off the engine and no longer drive the vehicle. First action is to check the coolant level under the bonnet – taking care as the engine and associated area may be hot. If the coolant level is low, refer to handbook and add more coolant once the engine has cooled sufficiently. Otherwise it the coolant level is fine, your coolant system is malfunctioning and it’s wise to seek a mechanic to assess the issue.
Electronic Parking Brake – warning light
This electronic parking brake light appears while you are driving. Pull over when safe to do so and then disengage the electronic parking brake. If after this action the light remains illuminated, seek your local garage or roadside assistance.
Power Assisted Steering – warning light
Ensure that when this light is lit that you stop the vehicle as soon as it’s safe to do so. There is an issue with the power assisted steering which could be rectified by simply switching the ignition off for a minute and then restarting the engine. If the light goes out then the issue is resolved. However if the light continues to be visible, if safe and you’re confident enough to do so, drive to your nearest local garage to assist in diagnosing the problem. Should the issue prevent you from driving the vehicle safely, then call roadside assistance.
Engine Oil Pressure – red warning light
On noticing this engine oil pressure warning light, stop the vehicle immediately when it is safe to do so. Switch the engine off and let it cool down. Once the engine is cool and safe, attempt to check the engine oil level. If the oil level is fine, you may need to contact your roadside assistance for further diagnosis. Alternatively if the engine oil level is low, add more suitable engine oil until the level reaches the correct amount ensuring the engine is cool before doing so. Then attempt to restart the engine and wait for 5 seconds. If the warning light disappears then the issue is resolved and you can continue driving. If the light doesn’t dim then call roadside assistance for further help.
Ignition Switch – red warning light
If this warning light appears then there appears to be a malfunction with the ignition of the car. Avoid turning off the vehicle as you may not be able to restart it. It’s recommended to drive to your nearest garage as soon as possible to assess the issue promptly.
Seat Belt Buckles – red warning light
For yours and passenger safety it is recommended to stop the vehicle immediately when this light is visible. Usually you will find that a passenger in the vehicle has not got their seat belt correctly fitted and it is advisable to ensure that all passengers and the driver check their seat belt is fastened safely. Should after your checks of all seat belts that there are no issues, it is sensible to seek your nearest garage to check the seat belt system for faults.
Steering Lock – red warning light
Discovering this warning light indicates there is a malfunction of the electronic steering lock mechanism. Do not attempt to drive the vehicle. Drive to your nearest local garage for diagnostics and repair.
Vehicle Charging System – red warning light
Try and stop the vehicle as soon as you can if this indicator appears on your dashboard. It is likely to be a fault with the system itself or the alternator has failed. If the engine doesn’t start, you’ll need to contact roadside assistance. However, if the engine does start you can drive to your nearest garage for repair.
Front Assist – red warning light
The Front Assist system detects an approaching collision risk, therefore it is recommended to take action to avoid the collision either by braking or manoeuvring. If the warning doesn’t turn off after the risk has passed then contact your nearest garage for assessment.
Repair your VW vehicle in Bath
If you’ve found that your VW car or VW Group car (Skoda, SEAT, Audi brands) is showing dashboard warning signs which you’re concerned about, then why not visit MCM Garage the VW specialists in Bath. We’ll help diagnose the issue as well as repair any faults and get your car up and running again. Contact us today via our online form to book your VW repair appointment or alternatively call us on 01761 415 501. We use genuine Volkswagen AG parts when servicing your vehicle.
Disclaimer: Please note that the image icons used may differ to the one in your vehicle and are only displayed for reference purposes only. For full clarification of warning lights refer to your manufacturer’s vehicle handbook.