Stop? Go? How do I know?
What do you do? Your vehicle temperature gauge or oil light is in the red but you are SO close to your destination. Just a little bit farther and you won’t have to pull over on the side of the road. This happens and I totally understand. The last place I want to be is on the side of the road with a dead car. Especially if I’m on the highway or in an unfamiliar place. My goal would always be to get to my destination or a service facility. Unfortunately, you can do additional damage to your vehicle if you continue to drive it. It’s also hard to determine, based on what’s happening, as to whether continuing to drive is a bad idea. Looking at your owner’s manual may give you additional information but pulling over to read the owner’s manual isn’t really ideal either. From the time Jeff and I started dating and he became in charge of my vehicle maintenance for my 1976 Honda Civic Wagon, he told me the rules for non-technicians. Stop. If the vehicle is overheating, if the oil light comes on, or if the temperature gauge is rising quickly and headed towards the red zone or, if the engine light is blinking. Any of these things can create additional repairs or indicate that the engine is in danger. Also if you hear knocking noises from the engine compartment in conjunction with any of these events you should stop. It is always better to be safe than sorry. If the battery light comes on, stop as soon as you can because in today’s vehicles electrical components can be damaged. This can lead to costly repairs. I spoke with one of our technicians and he recommended not driving far with the battery light on because it is hard to determine what a “safe” driving distance is with this problem occurring. If the engine light comes on but the car is running fine, get it looked at when it’s convenient. One of the things you should have some passing knowledge of is what the symbols on the dashboard mean. I will admit that while recently driving a vehicle to Florida that I was not familiar with, I called Cameron, our service advisor, because a dashboard light came on. I was driving, it was dusk and I didn’t want to pull over in an unfamiliar area. I described the light and he said, “Did you just turn on the headlights?” Face palm moment. Share this information with new drivers. We see vehicles that have additional repairs needed because an inexperienced driver kept going when their car began overheating or the oil light came on. Familiarize yourself with the symbols in your vehicle so that you have somewhat of an idea of what is occurring. And if your Toyota has a circle with lines around it illuminated on the dashboard, you turned on your headlights.