Volkswagen dashboard icons and what they mean

There’s nothing worse than seeing a warning that you don’t quite understand light up on your VW’s dashboard. It can ruin your trip in a split second and keep you worried until it’s resolved. Because at VW South Florida we know new technologies can be confusing, we’ve compiled a list of the dashboard light icons and what they mean.


What is that thing?

What does it mean for you?

The symbols in this section do not require urgent action...
Tire Pressure Low: This yellow symbol means your tire pressure is low, or system failure (you will hear a 1x audible warning). Check the pressure in all your tires as they might be ruptured. If there’s no obvious damage, search for nails or screws. Over time tires can also lose air for other various reasons. like a worn tire or loose cap. Take a look at the state of your tires and decide whether you need to add air, patch a hole or replace them.
Low Fuel Level: This error code means you should refuel. Your tank is empty and you’re running on reserve. Stop at a nearby gas station to refill your tank.
Washer Fluid Low: The yellow washer fault code reminds you to fill up your washer fluid. You should head out and buy washer fluid for your car. Don’t just add water or ordinary glass cleaner as this might stain the windshield or damage the spraying system.
Fuel Cap Off or Missing: This error code means your car’s fuel cap is off or missing. Make sure your fuel cap is secured so that air won’t get into the engine. If your cap won’t screw properly or it’s missing, find a replacement ASAP.
Shift Lock: This green light means the brake must be applied to shift vehicle into gear. Just step on the brake pedal to be able to shift your car gears (Drive, park, neutral, etc.).
Hood Open: The red Hood Open VW dashboard indicator light means your engine hood is open or not closed properly. This light just indicates that the hood is not properly closed. You should secure it before driving your car.
Daytime Running Lights (DRL): This Volkswagen code lets you know that your daytime running lights are on. The DRL indicator light means that the daytime running lights are ON and operating properly. However, the DRL indicator light will not be illuminated if there is a problem with the system.
Bulb Failure: The computer will switch on the bulb failure warning light when it detects any non-normal voltage in any of the bulb circuits. Take a look at all of the bulbs to find the one that’s not working properly. Remember to check headlights, DRL, tail lights, turn signals and brake lights.
B-X 32: License Plate Bulb Failure: This yellow VW icon with B-X 32 and a light bulb means one or more license plate light bulbs is burned out. Either take it to a specialist to have them replaced or buy replacement bulbs and install them yourself.
Rain Sensor Malfunction: The automatic wiper system is off. Switch the ignition off and on again if this inspection light comes on. If the light stays on, contact an authorized Volkswagen dealer or service facility.
The symbols in this section should get checked out soon...
Brake Light Bulb Failure: This yellow dashboard icon means one or more brake lights is burned out. The bulb failure light turns on when any brake light on your car isn't working. Remember to fix this soon, you could get a ticket or cause an accident.
Antilock Braking System malfunction: The ABS system is designed to help prevent wheels from locking during heavy braking situations, preventing the vehicle from skidding or hydroplaning. You should take it to be serviced as soon as you have the time. That’s because, depending on the vehicle, the brake pedals may be harder to push or become unresponsive.
Battery Error: Alternator Low Voltage Output The alternator warning light means there is an issue with powering the battery. This could be due to the alternator becoming worn out. You should replace your battery or have your car serviced. In the meantime, jump starting your car should suffice.
Immobilizer: This yellow VW dashboard instrument panel light means the incorrect key has been inserted, or that the key is not adapted to the vehicle. This warning light usually only comes on when the key isn’t recognized so you shouldn’t have to worry about this light coming on while you are already driving. If this happens, try taking the key out and reinserting it if you are having trouble getting your car started. For keyless models, check if the fob’s battery to see if it needs to be replaced. If this doesn’t work, take your car to the service station to have it fixed.
Oil Pressure: the red oil can and yellow pressure warning lights means there is no oil pressure, please turn engine OFF. Turn off your vehicle as quickly as possible. Check the oil levels after the engine has cooled down. If the oil levels are low, add the recommended oil. The engine light should turn off after 5 seconds. Otherwise, call roadside assistance.
Oil Level Low: This yellow warning light indicates:
  • Check oil level
  • Oil sensor—bring in for service
Wait until the engine cools off and check the oil levels. If it is low, then add the recommended oil (verify the owner’s manual). If the light remains on, then take it to a professional.
Parking Brake: The red check engine light code means either:
  • Parking brake is applied
  • ABS malfunction (if ABS is light on, too)
  • Low brake fluid warning
Check if you have the brake on and release it. If it remains lit after the parking brake is released or if it turns on and off intermittently while you're driving, it means you need to add brake fluid. If the light still doesn't turn off, you'll need to have the brake system inspected.
  • Yellow Solid Warning Light: Power steering assist reduced
  • Yellow Flashing: Malfunction in electronic steering column lock
  • Red Solid Warning Light: Power steering assist failure
  • Red Flashing Warning Light: Malfunction in the electronic steering column lock (you will hear a 1x audible warning)
This means that either there’s not enough steering fluid or a malfunction with the assisted steering system. The wheel will be difficult to move and you should have it checked promptly.
ESP/ASR (Electronic Stabilization Program/Anti-Slip Regulation): The solid yellow Volkswagen warning light means ESP/ASR is inactive. A flashing warning light signifies an ESP/ASR event. When this warning lights up for a few seconds, it means that your car lost control and is stabilizing. However, if it stays lit, it means that there’s a malfunction in the system. Take it to the service center as soon as you can.
Coolant Level Low / Coolant Temperature High: The coolant temperature warning light turns on when your engine too hot and is at risk of damage from overheating. If you are driving when this warning light turns on, pull over safely as soon as possible and shut off the engine. Let the engine cool down for at least 30 minutes before attempting to remove the radiator cap and remember to use a thick rag to protect your hand when you do so. Once the engine has cooled, check the level of the coolant. If the level is low, you can add water temporarily so that you can drive somewhere to get the car checked out.
Automatic Transmission Malfunction: There is a potential issue with the automatic transmission or with the system’s monitoring devices. The automatic transmission warning light means there's an issue with the transmission, possibly the fluid temperature, fluid level, or pressure. Schedule your service appointment soon.
Brake Pad Wear: the sensor in the brakes has determined that the brake pads are too thin. You should take your car to the shop to have the brake pads changed.
Airbag Problem: This fault code means the airbag or belt tension system faulty, or passenger airbags deactivated. Take the vehicle to a qualified service center to have the problem diagnosed and solved. Disregarding this light might put your life at risk because, in case of an accident, your airbag might not deploy.
The following icons are a big deal - bring your vehicle in for service now!
Electronic Power Control (EPC) – Exhaust Gas: The yellow EPC dashboard symbol means engine malfunction—bring your vehicle in to your local authorized VW dealer for service. If your dashboard is displaying the EPC light it’s a signal that you need to take your VW to be repaired immediately. It should have enough power to drive to a dealership or repair shop, but that’s pretty much it… drive straight there. Your vehicle’s throttle may be limited in power as a built-in mechanism to protect the engine.
Engine Malfunction (On-board Diagnostics): If the yellow engine emission malfunction dashboard indicator light comes on, please bring in your vehicle to your local authorized Volkswagen dealer for service. The Malfunction Indicator Light can signal three different types of problems: Occasional flashes indicate temporary engine malfunctions. When the indicator light stays on constantly, it needs engine service. The most serious signal is when the MIL flashes all the time. It is a sign that your vehicle’s engine is misfiring. Any engine light signal means you should take your car to the service center immediately.
Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG®) Transmission Too Hot Stop! Don’t continue driving. Allow the transmission to cool with the gear shift in park and contact roadside assistance immediately.
These icons only appear on diesel vehicles...
AdBlue® Level Warning: The AdBlue warning light means the diesel exhaust fluid is low. Although it may not be a direct safety threat, it means you might have difficulty turning on the engine and, eventually, it will prevent your car from starting. Bring it in for service ASAP.
AdBlue® System Malfunction Warning: it means that either there’s no diesel exhaust fluid or that it wasn’t filled with the standard AdBlue® fluid. Get your car serviced soon and have the fluid checked and/or replaced.
AdBlue® No Restart Warning: it means there’s no diesel fluid in the system and it needs to be refilled. Your car will not restart after it’s turned off. Take it to get serviced ASAP.
Diesel Engine Pre-Flow Before Engine Start-Up: This yellow light, when solid, means the diesel engine pre-flow system is switched on. If flashing, this warning light means a malfunction has occurred in the diesel engine. A diesel engine pre-glow warning light comes on steady at startup, it simply means that your engine is in the process of warming up and you will be able to start your VW momentarily. If the light is flashing, it means that there’s an issue with the system that warms up the engine, and you should take it to get serviced soon.
Particulate Filter (Diesel Engines): The yellow check engine light code could mean your filter is blocked with soot. There’s likely soot building up in the filter. Try driving on a highway at least 40+ MPH so that the heat can burn it off. If the warning light is still on, then visit our service department to replace your filter.
Hybrid vehicles have this one extra icon...
Hybrid Drive System Malfunction: The yellow light indicates a hybrid system malfunction. See an authorized Volkswagen dealer or service facility. The red indicator light means you should stop the vehicle in a safe place as soon as possible and seek assistance.

Now that you know what the warning indicators means, you’ll know how to deal with them. If you are looking for an expert service department, take a look at one of our 11 conveniently located dealerships – from North Palm Beach to Miami-Dade. We’re happy to help!

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