Once you've done all your vehicle checks and before you start driving your vehicle, make sure you understand what the gauges, indicators and warning lights on the instrument panel mean. If you’re not sure about any of them, check your vehicle handbook.
Indicator lights show when you’re using different functions in the vehicle, such as the rear screen heater, fog lights or hazard warning lights.
The warning lights let you know when there’s a problem with your vehicle. Knowing what these lights mean and what to do when they are lit will help you protect the engine and other equipment from damage.
The lights will vary from one vehicle to another but these are the most common ones:
- oil pressure
- anti-lock braking system (ABS)
- air pressure gauge (if your vehicle has air brakes)
- brake condition
- water temperature.
Some vehicles have on-board diagnostic systems that tell you when there’s a problem with the vehicle. They differ from one vehicle to another. Check your vehicle handbook to find out more about the diagnostic systems in your vehicle.
Starting the engine
Different vehicles have different ways of starting the engine. Look at the vehicle handbook to make sure you know how your vehicle starts.
Most modern vehicles are fitted with anti-theft devices, such as steering-column locks and immobilisers. These are usually turned off when you unlock the vehicle or when you put the key in the ignition.
If you use any extra security devices, such as a steering wheel or parking brake lock, you’ll need to remove these before you start your vehicle. These are usually locked using a key; check the manufacturer’s instructions for details on how to use them correctly and how to remove them.
Vehicles with diesel engines usually have a preheating device to help start the engine from cold: wait for the glow plugs to heat up (until the indicator light turns off) then turn the key to start the engine.