Most drivers are familiar with the low-fuel warning light. The low-fuel warning light illuminates when the fuel tank is nearly empty. It indicates that fuel is required promptly to prevent an out-of-fuel condition. It has been a common feature on dashboard instrumentation for many years.
The windshield washer low-fluid warning light indicates that the windshield washer fluid level in the washer tank has reached a low level and will run out soon. This indicator alerts the driver to take action and fill the washer fluid reservoir so that sufficient washer fluid will be available should the windshield become dirty or stained, possibly interfering with the driver’s vision.
The low tire pressure warning or Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) light indicates that one or more tires may be low on pressure. This could be a result of a puncture or leak, or it may simply be a drop in ambient temperature affecting the tire pressure. This light also represents an action notification. If tire pressure is not checked regularly, a drop in pressure may occur over time and go unnoticed. With today’s longer maintenance intervals, tire pressure may naturally reduce as ambient temperature conditions change before the vehicle’s next scheduled maintenance. A good rule of thumb is that tire pressure drops by roughly one pound (Psi) for every 10 degree (F) drop in ambient temperature. For example, as ambient temperatures drop, tires set at 30 Psi in 90 degree (F) weather before that summer vacation trip, will drop to 26 Psi when the ambient temperature falls to 50 degrees (F). This will trigger the TPMS light to illuminate. In this example, adjusting the tire pressure is the only action required. An easy way to avoid having the TPMS light illuminate is to regularly check and adjust the tire pressure to maintain the necessary pressures as ambient conditions change.
Read more about TPMS in Spring 2005.
Newer Subaru vehicles with longer maintenance intervals have an additional warning light to alert drivers when there is a need to check the engine oil. In this way, its function is very similar to the low tire pressure warning or TPMS light. The low oil-level warning light illuminates when engine oil may need to be added. It should be noted that certain driving conditions may cause the light to illuminate when the oil level is not low or is only slightly low. These include driving on certain inclines, on undulating road surfaces, during extended periods of acceleration or deceleration, or during continuous turning. Due to its appearance, this new light is sometimes confused with another light that has been around for a very long time, the low oil-pressure warning light.
The illumination of the yellow low oil-level light requires attention and should be addressed at the first reasonable opportunity, but it does not indicate a need for an emergency stop like the oil-pressure light. If the low oil-level light illuminates, the driver should stop soon and confirm the oil level. Stop at a location where engine oil may be purchased, if necessary. Park the vehicle on a level surface, turn off the engine, and wait five minutes. Check the oil level and add oil if needed. It should be noted that a drop in oil level of roughly one quart may cause the low oil-level light to illuminate. Driving conditions at the time as noted earlier can influence when the light illuminates so the oil level at that time can vary. For this reason allowing sufficient time to elapse after turning off the engine before checking the oil is important or a false low reading may result. After adding the necessary oil, start the engine. The low-oil level light should self-extinguish. If the light remains on but no other lights are illuminated, your vehicle remains safe to drive. Contact your Subaru retailer to review the circumstances. They will guide you to determine if an inspection may be required.
Similar in appearance to the yellow low oil-level light is the red low oil-pressure light. Outward appearance is where the similarities of these two lights end. The low oil-pressure light is red, as it requires the driver take immediate action. If the low oil-pressure light illuminates, stop the vehicle as soon as safely possible. Park it on as level of a surface as practical and turn the engine off. Wait at least five minutes and then check the engine oil level. Add oil if necessary until the level reaches the full mark on the dipstick/oil gauge. Then start the engine and see if the warning light goes out. If not, stop the engine and contact your Subaru retailer IMMEDIATELY. If it does go out after adding engine oil, this should still be reviewed with your Subaru retailer right away for any next steps.
These lights are included in Subaru vehicles as driver assistance features and are not intended to replace the need to perform regular checks. Subaru recommends checking your fluids and tire pressures monthly or more frequently depending upon your driving habits. Performing regular checks of the vehicle’s fluids and tire pressures between regular servicing at your Subaru retailer is a quick-and-easy way to help maximize vehicle life and performance as well as helping to avoid an unanticipated interruption to your normally full and fast-paced life.