How to Read Toyota Dashboard Lights

Toyota dashboard lights 1 photo
Photo: Toyota
Word is that you won’t even need to know what all the dashboard lights mean in a Toyota, because the fault ones might never turn on if you do the regular maintenance properly.
However, experience proved us wrong and showed that even the biggest automaker in the world can make mistakes. Meaning that, depending on how you treat your Toyota or how the manufacturer treated it on the assembly line, your dash might flash you some weird icons when you least expect it.

Before you start scanning down on the picture to find out the icon your Toyota dash is showing up, take notice that we put here the most common ones that can appear on the majority of the models. Certain icons might be missing and may possibly be added later.

Also, there are some icons that will light up each time you turn on the ignition. It’s a normal thing, meaning that the main computer is checking if they work along with the systems they provide information for. Panic only if they won’t go off after the engine is on.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that certain warning indicators will only inform you about a general system malfunction and the exact problem can only be found with special diagnostic tools.

1. Airbag warning light - indicates a problem with the airbag system, which should be checked at a certified service immediately if you care for active safety. The icon may also appear when manually disabling one or multiple airbags.

2. Anti-lock Braking System warning light - tells that the anti-lock braking system (which prevents the wheels from locking under hard braking so you can keep control of the vehicle) has encountered a problem or a sensor needs replacement. The icon may also come up if one of the sensors has caught too much dirt or if you did a burnout with you car and stopped quick enough to fool the ABS system. This also applies for when your car is stuck in snow or mud and the tires spin freely.

3. Engine warning light - it’s probably the most scary dashboard light ever, many people instantly thinking the engine is busted. But this is one of those signs that can also mean a simple sensor is dead and the engine is not working at its best and is emitting more bad gases than it should. You can start panicking if the engine makes strange noises or misfires, but anyway, you should go check what’s wrong with it at a service.

4. Oil pressure warning light - basically, if the sign stays on it means the oil pressure in the engine is either too low or too high, so do check its level before driving further. The indicator might also mean the oil pump is damaged or its intake is obstructed. Wrong viscosity oil might be another reason for the light to switch on.

5. Engine coolant temperature low - says that the coolant in you engine is too cold for the engine. If it doesn’t disappear after driving a few miles you need to see a service. The thermostat (a valve that lets coolant flow through the radiator) or the electric ventilator might stay ON all the time. It shouldn’t be a big risk to drive while the indicator is on, but due to the engine not functioning at its optimal temperature, it will consume more fuel and emit more exhaust gasses.

6. Headlight low beam indicator - informs you that the low beam or even daytime running/position lights are ON. If the indicator also has an exclamation mark, you should check the lights, as one or multiple light bulbs are dead.

7. Maintenance Required - it informs you that the oil and filters need to be changed as part of the regular maintenance program. A message on the multi information display (if you have one) might warn you several hundreds of miles/km to schedule the maintenance before the MAINT REQD light pops up.

8. Windshield washer fluid warning light - informs you that you need to top up the washer fluid.

9. Fuel warning light - if the last bar on the meter is light up or flashing you need to pull up to a gas station and fill you tank.

10. Electronic Power Steering warning - indicates there’s a problem with the power steering system. It’s not that dangerous, but your steering might feel like in the 1950s. Go see a service if your hands are not that strong.

11. Open door(s) warning - means that one or multiple doors is opened or not closed correctly.

12. Parking brake warning light - indicates that the parking brake is applied. If you disengaged the parking brake and the sign is still on, it seems there’s a problem and you should check your brakes. Braking disks or pads might need replacement.

13. Coolant temperature warning - simply means that the engine is too hot. Stop immediately and bring a mechanic or tow the car to a service. If you just performed a cold start, the warning might be generated by a short circuit, bad sensor or a computer error. Anyway, take it to a mechanic.

14. Fog lamps indicator - informs you that the foglights are ON.

15. Park lamps indicator - informs you that the park lamps (daytime running lights/position lights) are ON.

16. High beam indicator - informs you that the high beam is ON. Watch that you don’t blind people on the street at night with you headlights.

17. Turn signal indicator - informs you that the turn signal or hazard lights are ON.

18. Battery warning light - mainly it will tell you that the battery is not charging correctly or not charging at all, so it’s normal to be displayed when the engine is OFF and the lights or the radio are ON.

19. Seatbelt warning light - you or the passenger(s) need to fasten the seatbelt.

20. Transmission warning light - indicates a malfunction within the transmission. Usually shows up for automatic transmissions that fail at some point to do their designated job. We don’t recommend using the car if the indicator is lit.

21. Fuel filter water warning - if it stays ON, it indicates that water has been detected in the fuel filter. Don’t panic if you’re driving, but stop at a service and have the mechanics drain out the water.

22. Glow plugs indicator - it will show up when its cold outside and it informs you that the glow plugs inside the engine are warming up the combustion chamber. Don’t start the engine until the indicator goes OFF. If it stays on too much, the glow plugs might have a problem, or its too damn cold.

23. Same as No.13 above but on another color. Just stop the engine because its too hot.

24. STOP warning light - it’s ok if it flashes when you start the car up, but if it goes ON while you drive along with No.13 or 5, it really means you should stop.

25. Cruise control indicator - says that the cruise control system is working. You can usually turn it off by pressing the brake.

26. Gear position indicator - shows the gear you’re in.

27. Same as No.8. Top up windshield washer fluid.

28. Same as No.9. Pull up for some fuel.

29. Vehicle Stability Control or Traction Control warning light - if it stays ON it warns you that there is a problem with one of the systems. If the brakes still work you are safe to continue driving, but note that your stability systems are not working properly so don’t push your car around too much.

30. Tire pressure warning - means that the pressure in one or more tires is low or too high. One or more tires might also be punctured.

31. Traction control OFF indicator - is warns you that you have disabled the traction control.

32. Vehicle slip indicator - it will go on when driving on snow, ice, mud or very wet road and it means that the car is slipping and the traction control system is working to ensure maximum traction possible.

33. Overdrive OFF indicator - informs you that the overdrive system has been switched OFF.

34. Automatic Transmission Oil Temperature warning - the transmission oil is too high and you should slow down or even stop to let it cool. Wrong transmission oil can lead to overheating. Take the vehicle to a service if the problem persists.

35. Lane Keeping Assist warning - the system that keeps your car between the road lanes has a problem. Don’t take the hands off your steering wheel.

36. Adaptive Front Lighting System warning - the automatic system that handles switching the headlights between low and high beam is not working properly.

37. Same as No.10

38. Pre Collision System warning - warns you that the system which aids you prevent a frontal vehicle crash is not working correctly. Drive with care and take the car to a service to solve the issue.

39. Parking brake indicator - informs you that the parking brake is engaged.

40. Ecologic/economic indicator - informs you that you are driving in eco mode to save fuel and emit less CO2. The car might not be as sporty as it feels when the indicator is OFF.

To make the most out of your Toyota, don’t forget to read the instruction manual provided with it, drive carefully, always perform the regular maintenance and use original replacement parts and fluids specially designed for your model.
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