Check Gauges Light: What Does it Mean?

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check gauges light

Once your vehicle’s dashboard displays a warning light, it’s often accompanied by a dreadful emotion. While your automobile can’t speak verbally, it does so via alarms, indicators, and notifications. The Check Gauge light indicator is displayed on your car’s dashboard and is among the warning lights you should never overlook.

Whenever your dashboard’s Check Gauge light flashes, one or more of your car gauges are out of normal range. It might be your electrical system gauge, brake fluid gauge, engine temperature gauge, or engine oil pressure gauge.

You shouldn’t worry If the Check Gauges light on your car’s dash abruptly flashes. Simply pull over on the side of the road safely. Then examine your dashboard gauges. There must be just one gauge illuminated. That’s usually the message sent by the “Check Gauge.”

Continue reading to learn more about the Check Gauge light, its meaning, and what you must do once you notice it lit on your car’s instrument panel or dash.

What Does Your Check Gauges Light Trying Tell You?

Your vehicle’s operation is monitored via a variety of gauges. Such gauges are designed to alert you to any problems within your car. The failing component of your automobile might be under the limitations of its gauge sensors, or it could signal an issue with your engine’s efficiency, emission system, or a variety of other components.

Your car’s Check Gauge light is a warning signal triggered by your Powertrain Control Module (PCM) to alert you about a possible issue. It implies one of two factors: your car’s gauges are reading abnormally high, or your coolant temperatures or oil pressure are reaching dangerous levels. Once activated, your Check Gauges light flashes in one of three colors: orange, yellow, or red and is typically located next to your car’s fuel gauge.

Due to the multiple gauges in cars, this warning light might indicate anywhere from low oil pressure to battery charging system abnormalities to a fuel tank problem. For example, in most American-brand vehicles, one of the gauges listed below features a low/high-line display that could exhibit out-of-normal range signals or readings.

  • Speedometer
  • Fuel gauge
  • Temperature gauge
  • Tachometer
  • Oil pressure
  • Voltmeter
  • Odometer

While the Check Gauges light color indicates the severity of a potential issue, experienced vehicle owners recommend promptly inspecting the dashboard to determine which gauge is malfunctioning. As a car owner, you should check all fluid levels within your car first, and even your tire pressure, since they can cause an on-road issue if not detected immediately.

How Do Car Gauges Operate?

There are two basic kinds of automobile gauges you might encounter or your car features, each of which operates differently:

Mechanical Gauge

Instead of a sensor, a mechanical gauge uses a mechanical or physical measuring device. If you take the idea of an oil pressure gauge, the oil pool and your engine head are linked by a T-shaped draw pipe.

When the gauge is tuned as per the quantity of oil running into it, the volume of oil running into the gauge will show the oil pressure. If it falls below a specific limit, the gauge light will illuminate. This is how mechanical gauges function.

Electrical Gauge

Electrical gauges rely on their sensors for readings. To have an essential awareness, you should be mindful that all these sensors are placed in potential trouble areas.

For instance, the engine oil gauge; the oil sensor is situated between the oil reservoir and the engine. It monitors the quantity of oil being transported through a signal. Reduced oil supply will lead to low engine oil pressure.

The data from the sensor is sent in the sort of electrical resistance. The voltage going through a coil determines the resistance. Once the resistance falls below a specific limit, sufficient current could flow. Consequently, that particular gauge light illuminates.

What Triggers The Check Gauges Light to Illuminate?

There are various possible causes for the Check Gauge light to illuminate. Usually, it’ll illuminate if a fault occurs and your vehicle requires examination, maintenance, or repair. Determining what causes the Check Gauges light to activate is critical to fixing the issue.

Fortunately, your vehicle’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU), Electronic Control Module (ECM), or Powertrain Control Module (PCM) has a large number of Diagnostic Fault Codes stored in its system that come in handy in these circumstances. The following are some of the most prevalent causes of a lit Check Gauges light.

Loose Fuel Cap

Like the Check Engine light, this could also cause your Check Gauges light to illuminate. A poorly fitting or loose gas cap disturbs the fuel supply process and prevents maintaining the proper pressure, leading to fuel loss.

Typically, just tightening your gas cap or changing the cap’s O-ring or the fuel cap itself can eliminate the warning light. Otherwise, you might have to replenish your fuel tank at a nearby gas station.

Blown Fuse

Regardless of the number of blown fuses your vehicle has, one or even more gauges may be affected, triggering the Check Gauges light. Fortunately, this is one is the most simple causes to identify and resolve.

Simply ensure that no power is running to your fuse box or engine before touching it. And if you notice filaments, darkening, or damaged metallic strips, quickly replace your damaged fuse with a similar-amperage spare.

Low Oil Pressure

The Power Control Module operates all gauges in automobiles and supervises the sending units. An oil pressure that’s sluggish to reach the specified level could trigger your Check Gauges light to illuminate when the engine is first started, not after the engine is restarted. When this happens, the oil light as well as your Check Gauges light will activate (though not for all kinds of cars)

Your oil filter might be leaking oil back towards your engine, causing the oil pump to take a long to replenish what’s lacking once you start your vehicle. The oil pressure sensor might potentially be defective.

Failing Sensors

Full working sensors are essential for your vehicle’s electrical gauges to display the correct information. A faulty oxygen sensor, for example, might have the opposite effect. It can trigger the Check Gauges light and result in many additional issues, including lower fuel efficiency, catalytic converter failure, blocked spark plugs, and a failed emissions inspection. Detecting the malfunctioning sensor and promptly replacing it can assist in restoring your electrical gauges.

Vacuum Leak

As it conducts a range of activities, your car’s vacuum system is crucial to the efficient running of your automobile. Once this system is disrupted (due to damaged connections or a vacuum leak, for example), your vehicle might surge at significantly higher RPMs, activate the Check Gauge light, include several error codes, and manifest other false issues.

Some automobiles feature a vacuum gauge already installed.  If your vehicle lacks one, you can install an aftermarket gauge to monitor your engine’s vacuum system.

Water Pump Issues

A faulty water pump might cause your belt to stick and activate your Check Gauges light and make your gauges read erratic results. The water pump can be accessed for most vehicles by disconnecting the top radiator hose, removing the fan clutch’s wiring connection, and dismantling the clutch, fan, and shroud. You will need to exert some effort without causing damage to your shroud or radiator.

Charging System Problems

Occasionally, releasing the gas pedal and applying the brakes leads the vehicle’s voltage to drop, and one or several gauges misbehave. While others might be at ease with it, you shouldn’t be. Check the condition of your car battery and connections to ensure there are no faults or dirty battery connections. Additionally, use a voltmeter to determine if the production of your alternator meets specifications and is not creating a battery discharge.


The onboard computer is essential for recording digital gauge data in contemporary automobiles. And even though it’s the car’s brain, it could sometimes malfunction and create a false alert, indicating that there’s nothing incorrect with your car’s sensors and other components. Once you notice a false signal and everything else works fine, inspect your ECU/PCM/ECM.

Thermostat Trouble

Once malfunctioning or leaking, the thermostat struggles to control engine coolant circulation properly. Additionally, it leads to a toxic and tainted coolant, leading your engine to overheat. If the thermostat and coolant temperature sensor aren’t damaged, adding coolant to your reservoir often eliminates thermostat troubles.

Loose Belt/Fan

For some older vehicles that go into deep water or flood or are operated in wet terrains for too long, the Check Gauge light might illuminate and be followed by a screaming noise beneath the hood. A damp or slippery belt might cause your alternator to cease charging. In other instances, the light disappears as the temperature warms and the belt dries. However, routinely inspect your drive belt for wear and tear and slippage to prevent this.

Overheated Engine

The temperature gauge indicates your engine’s temperature. So, once your car’s temperature gauge needle hits abnormally high ranges, this gauge gets berserk and illuminates your Check Gauge indicator. Typically, any engine can overheat if there’s a problem with the radiator or if anything prevents coolant flow throughout your engine.

Indications involve a burnt coolant odor and diminished engine output. You might also see your coolant level decreasing more rapidly than usual. It is essential to realize that since the engine generates a great deal of heat and vibrations, its cooling system and components are prone to fail.

You might wind up with a broken cylinder head, blown head gasket, or worst, cracked engine block and pistons that are jammed. Consequently, you must approach an issue with an overheated engine with additional care. Additionally, you must immediately replace any damaged components.

How To Fix Check Gauges Light?

There’s no need to worry if this warning light instantly appears on your dashboard. A gauge warning light must also be illuminated somewhere else on your dashboard. Your Check Gauge light is often directing you towards the lit warning light.

The problem might be as easy as running out of fuel or having insufficient oil pressure. In this situation, the warning light will lead you to the source of the issue if you follow it.

Perform A Full Scan

Owning an automotive scanner and knowing how to operate it can significantly simplify this procedure. The scanner will offer fault codes that pinpoint the source of the problem.  Once you determine what component of your vehicle is malfunctioning, repairing it will be easier.

Bring Your Car To An Expert

You must take your vehicle to a diagnostic center for accurate findings. The shop and experts there will do a comprehensive scan of your car using a variety of automotive scanners. They can even correct the issue if they discover one since these auto repair services provide complete solutions.

Examine All Your Dashboard Gauges

If you don’t have an automotive scanner, you can visually examine all your dashboard gauges. You must be able to locate the lighted one. But if you don’t, it’s safer to have a certified technician inspect your vehicle.

Hard Reset

This method, the ECM or PCM reset procedure, entails turning your ignition off and on three times. This prompts your vehicle’s system on the second and third attempts, rendering it helpful for diagnosing low oil pressure. Not simply does it reset your Check Gauge indicator, but it effectively determines whether the alarm is inconsistent. However, It’s not guaranteed to permanently turn off the Check Gauges indicator.

Is It Safe To Drive with Check Gauge Light?

This response depends on why your check gauge warning light has been lighted. If a low washer fluid level causes an illuminated check gauge light, you could proceed as long as all other systems are operational. However, if it’s on for a serious matter, such as the check engine light, you must pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so and examine the problem.

Once your check gauge light has activated because of a low tire pressure alert from your tire pressure monitoring system, you could continue driving for a couple of miles if you reduce your speed. However, it’s essential if the check gauge light has illuminated because of low oil pressure. You must stop as soon as possible and refresh your engine oil.

For a significant problem, a blinking check gauge light would be shown. Otherwise, it’d be steady, and you would know that nothing serious is occurring. As a general guideline, everything related to safety must be addressed quickly, followed by the engine and any related systems.


The very first step in turning off your Check Gauge warning light is maintaining patience and keeping calm. When the compromised gauge measures a non-essential aspect of your car, you should prioritize traveling to the next gas station before addressing the issue. Alternately, pull over to the safe side of the road, evaluate the situation and use your reliable code reader or mechanical gauge. If uncertain, consult an experienced technician. Never go out into the road with a badly impaired system; otherwise, you risk lasting engine problems or accidents.


Is the check gauges light risky?

Typically, once your Check Gauges light activates, one or more of your gauges, like the electrical system, oil level, or other fluids regulated by such gauges, is out of normal range. Depending on how low your oil level has dropped, a low oil level can cause your engine to stop.

Where is the check gauge light located?

Your car’s Check Gauge light is situated on your instrument panel or dashboard.  The dashboard design and instruments will differ depending on the make and model of your vehicle. In addition to monitoring the engine, the instrument panel often monitors the oil, fuel, temperature, and battery power.

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