What Does My BMW Dashboard Light Mean?


Whether you are driving around Bucks County, Montgomery County, the Philadelphia area, or beyond, spotting a warning indicator light up on your dashboard can be a jarring experience. It is important to know which indicators are simply reminder lights and which are more serious warning lights that require immediate attention. 

As a general rule, BMW color codes their dashboard lights: 
  • Red - Indicates a problem that requires immediate action. 
  • Orange and Yellow - Indicates a vehicle warning that requires attention soon, but is not critical. 
  • Blue and Green - Indicates technology and features that are actively in use. 
Although your BMW owner's manual will give you a complete guide, Thompson BMW put together a quick reference guide to make it easier for you to find quick answers to your dashboard lights questions.  Our sales and service professionals in Doylestown at Thompson BMW are also always available to answer any questions that may arise about your BMW. Feel confident that our BMW-certified technicians will provide certified results.


Safety Belts

When this light illuminates a signal sounds at speeds over 5 MPH, indicating that the safety belts are not fastened. Make sure all passengers' safety belts are fastened and there are no heavy objects placed on the seats.


Steering System (Integral Active Steering)

If this light comes on while the engine is running, turn the steering wheel all the way back and forth several times in a uniform manner until the warning lamp turns off. If the light does not go off after approximately 6 repetitions, or if the steering wheel is at an angle, have your vehicle inspected by BMW Service.


Airbag & Seat Belt Tensioner System

This light means that the airbag system or seat belt tensioners have failed. You may still use your seatbelts, but get your vehicle inspected immediately by BMW Service.


Door Ajar

This indicator signals that the vehicle door is open.


Check Engine

If this warning light flashes there is a random misfiring of the engine. Reduce the vehicle speed and have the system checked immediately. Failure to do so may result in serious damage to the engine.


Antilock Brake System (ABS)

If illuminated, the driving stability control systems including ABS and the tire pressure monitor have failed, reducing braking and stability. Avoid braking with full force, driving on rough tracks or depressing the accelerator on full throttle. Have the vehicle inspected immediately by BMW Service.


Brake System

This light indicates a serious problem with the brake system. Have your brakes inspected by a  BMW service center.


Oil Level Low

When this light is illuminated, your vehicle's oil level is too low. Add proper oil immediately.


Coolant Level

This light indicates that your coolant level is too low. Immediately add coolant to your vehicle.


Brake Fluid Level

If lit up red, your brake fluid levels are too low. Moderate your speed and exercise caution until you can get your system checked. If lit up yellow, the hilltop feature has failed and the car will not be held in place after the brake is released. Have it checked immediately by BMW.


Service Vehicle

If lit up red, your vehicle is overdue for service. Schedule an appointment to have your vehicle serviced. If lit up yellow, your vehicle is now due for service.


Temperature Warning

When this light is illuminated and a ding sound is heard, the outside temperature is 37 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Be aware of potentially dangerous road conditions while driving.


Empty Light

This warning light means that you have less than a 30 mile cruising range until your fuel tank will be empty. Refuel as soon as possible.


Traction Control

If illuminated, your tires have lost traction due to a slippery surface. Drive cautiously.


Gas Cap Missing or Loose

When this warning light comes on, the vehicle gas cap is either missing or not correctly positioned. Make sure it is turned in place until is audibly clicks, and that the strap is not stuck between the gas cap and the vehicle.



This warning light often turns orange as a precursor to other warning lights turning on. It will also come on when you have a quarter tank of gas left or less. 


Window Wash Fluid

If illuminated, the window washer fluid is low. Add more window washer fluid.


Engine Overheating or Too hot

This indicates that the vehicle engine is overheating. Carefully find a safe place to pull over, turn off the car, and allow the engine to cool off. Keep the hood closed to avoid risk of scalding. Do not add coolant until the engine has cooled. Contact your BMW dealer for service.



There is a problem detected with your battery. Have your battery checked immediately by your BMW service provider. 


Bulb Warning

This warning indicator alerts that an exterior light bulb is out. Replace bulb or seek assistance from your BMW dealer. 


DSC Dynamic Stability Control

When this illuminates, your vehicle's DSC has been activated for extra traction control. If this indicator comes on constantly, there may be a problem with your VSC system, and your vehicle should be inspected a BMW service provider. 


Tire Pressure Monitor

If illuminated red, a tire has rapidly deflated, and the vehicle should be stopped immediately in a safe location to check the tires. If illuminated yellow, the tire pressure is off by greater than 10%, and should be adjusted. Remember that temperature changes can affect tire pressure. 


Turn Signals

When your turn signals are engaged, this indicator light will flash. If it blinks faster than usual, your turn signal bulb needs to be replaced.


Automatic Hold

This light shows when the BMW auto hold system is engaged, automatically setting and releasing the brake in stop and go traffic.


Vehicle Detection

If illuminated, a vehicle is detected nearby. 


Lane Departure

The lane departure warning safety feature is engaged when this light is illuminated.


Parking Brake

If lit up, your vehicle's parking lights are turned on.


Front Fog Lamps

If illuminated, the vehicle's front fog lights are turned on.


High Beams

This indicator shows when the high beams are engaged for optimal driver's visibility.


Cruise Control

If your cruise control is turned on, this indicator will light up.