Drivers Are Confused By Dashboard Symbols

Many UK motorists are driving their vehicles without any understanding of the symbols on the dashboard, according to a new study. Our motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, reports.


A poll of 2,000 motorists shows nine in 10 drivers have had a pictogram show up on the dashboard which they haven’t been familiar with.

Engine Warning

One in three car drivers can’t distinguish which symbol is the headlamp indicator, while 27 per cent of motorists can’t identify the ‘check engine’ warning light. And when people do realise what the car is warning them about, very few know how to sort out the issue themselves.

Oil, Tyres and Wipers

Two thirds of those surveyed have no clue how to inspect the oil, while just under fifty per cent don’t know how to change a tyre. And 44 per cent of drivers wouldn’t have any idea how to put new windscreen wiper blades on. While 58 per cent have no inkling what their tyre tread limit should be when it becomes dangerous and illegal, or how to check it.


David Carter, spokesman for Accident Advice Helpline, the body behind the research, commented: “It’s worrying how little drivers know about their own cars. Knowing the meaning of a dashboard symbol on your car could be the difference between having a crash or not.”


The survey also brings to light that only 16 per cent of motorists would try to fix a glitch with their car themselves. Just under fifty per cent of those questioned would look online if the dashboard started blinking at them with unfamiliar symbols.

Breaking the Law

Additionally, three per cent of the motorists quizzed would carry on driving their car, despite any warnings, until it felt too dicey to do so. And, when it comes to car maintenance, a quarter of drivers admit they have been behind in getting their car through its MOT. Of these, 18 per cent took their motor to the garage more than 16 days after the MOT was due.


Common reasons for missing the MOT were failing to remember, feeling the vehicle was safe, and not having the funds to pay for the legal test of roadworthiness.