BMW Dashboard Lights

The dashboard lights on your BMW – or any other car, for that matter – communicate the car’s condition to you. With just a glance, you can tell if there’s something wrong with your vehicle or remind the passengers to wear their seat belts. They are handy tools that lose significance if you don’t know how to interpret them.

BMW dashboard lights relay information about the car’s working parts, warn about broken parts, remind you to refill fluids, wear your seatbelt, or replace certain parts. 

Cars have many working parts that are represented on your BMW’s dashboard. You need to know what each light means, what to do if one lights up, and if you need to book an appointment with your mechanic. 

What Do The BMW Dashboard Light Colors Mean?

You have probably noticed that the lights on your dashboard have different colors. Before I explain the meanings behind the lights, let me explain what the different colored lights on your dashboard mean. 

The colors of BMW dashboard lights mean:

  • Red: The issue requires urgent attention. 
  • Orange: Usually indicates a less pressing issue that will grow worse if not checked.
  • Green/Blue: Provides information about lights and indicators.

Now that you know what BMW dashboard light colors mean, let’s look at the lights and their meanings.

BMW Dashboard Informative Lights 

These dashboard lights relay information and are not a sign that your car needs a checkup. 


The signal light blinks in the direction you’ve turned the signal arm

Rear/Front Fog Lamp

This light indicates that the rear or front fog lamp is on. 

Short/Long-Distance Headlights

Blue shows long-distance headlights, and green indicates short-distance headlights.

Safety Belt Light

Indicates that the driver or passenger(s) hasn’t worn a safety belt.


When the light is on, overdrive is turned off.

Rain Warning

It comes on when the sensor detects rain.

Defogger Light

This indicates that the defogger on the windshield or rear window is active. 

Door Open Light

This indicates that one of the doors is open.

Cruise Control

It tells you that the cruise control is set.

Speed Warning

Indicates that you’ve crossed the speed limit.

Lane Change Without Signal

It comes on when you switch lanes without indicating at over 40mph (64.37kph). The steering wheel will also vibrate.

Winter Mode

Indicates snowy or slippery roads. You will notice it come on during the winter season.

Vehicle Warning

The dashboard light comes on when you get too close to the vehicle in front. It adds more force to the brakes in case you need emergency braking.

The light will flash if a crash is imminent. The system will apply the brakes for you and brace you by retracting the safety belt. 

ECO Indicator

Comes on when you’re driving economically.

Engine Hood/Luggage Compartment Open

Shows that either the hood or boot is open.

Traction Control

Shows that you’ve engaged traction control.

BMW Dashboard Warning Lights

These lights indicate danger and often require an immediate trip to the mechanic.

Engine Temperature Warning

This light shows that the engine is overheating. Stop the car immediately when you notice it.

Overheating can cause permanent engine damage. The safest choice is to have the car towed to the mechanic. 

You can also wait for the car to cool before checking the coolant level. If the coolant level is low, the coolant level warning light will be on. 

Refill the coolant and drive to the mechanic while keeping a keen eye on the temperature warning light. 

Battery Warning Light

This indicates a problem with your electrical system. 

Have it checked out immediately to prevent damage to other parts. 

Check Engine Light

The check engine light indicates a problem with your engine. It can be minor or significant; therefore, the safest bet is to have it checked out.

Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) Light

The ABS of your BMW assists in safe braking. 

A fault in the system is a safety risk that needs urgent addressing. Preferably, don’t drive your BMW with the ABS light on.

Brake System Warning

Do not drive with this light on as it indicates a problem with your braking system. 

You can drive if the light is only yellow, but it is risky. If the ABS is also on, you have a severe problem with your braking system. 

Airbag Warning

This light points to a problem in your airbag safety system.

Get the system checked to ensure safety if a crash happens.

Transmission Fault Light

This indicates a problem with your car’s transmission.

Top up the transmission fluid, and if the light remains, consult your mechanic.

Engine Oil Pressure Warning

It points to a problem in engine oil pressure.

Low or high oil pressure can lead to catastrophic engine failure. It’s an issue that needs urgent addressing. 

Traction Control Warning

If the light is permanently on, it points to a problem with the traction control. 

Traction control is a safety feature, especially on slippery roads. Get the problem checked out as soon as possible.

Tire Pressure Warning

This light will come on when the system detects a pressure drop in one of the wheels. 

It’s unsafe to drive with a car that might be losing tire pressure. Have your tires checked out at the nearest service station. 

Suspension Warning

This light indicates a problem with your BMW’s air suspension. 

Damaged suspension reduces a car’s stability, which can cause an accident. Therefore, have a mechanic check out the suspension immediately.

Steering Lock Alert

A BMW’s steering locks to prevent an unauthorized person from driving off. This light comes on when the steering locks. 

Yellow light points to a problem in the system. Red tells you to stop immediately and call for assistance. 

Steering lock at high speed can cause a nasty accident.

Active Steering Warning

The active steering system adapts the steering to different weather conditions. 

Consult your mechanic to turn it off.

Diesel Particulate Filter Alert

This alerts you to a faulty particulate filter.

It might cause further damage to your car if not checked out. It also damages the environment as toxic exhaust gases escape into the atmosphere.

Service Light

This light indicates that your car is past its service date.

Book a car service appointment with your mechanic to avoid damaging your car

Skipping service will not ruin your car immediately, but it will increase the rate of engine wear. It will cost you more in the future or dent your car’s resale price.

Start/Stop System Alert

Some BMWs have a start/stop system that temporarily shuts the engine when the car is stationary.

This alert will come on if there’s a fault in the system. Have it checked out immediately to avoid a situation where your car breaks down in the middle of a traffic jam.

BMW Dashboard Replacement Lights

These lights indicate that something needs replacement or refilling.

Fuel Light

The most common dashboard light in the universe. 

It indicates that your BMW will not go more than 30 miles before stopping due to low fuel.

Washer Fluid Alert

This indicates that the wiper fluid is low and needs refilling.

Bulb Faulty Warning

Points to a fault in one of your external lights.

It can be dangerous to other motorists if you drive without external lights. You can also pay a fine for breaking the law. 

Therefore, identify the faulty light promptly and have it replaced.

Coolant Level Alert

It alerts you to a drop in coolant. 

Top up immediately to avoid damage caused by overheating.

Oil Level Warning

Indicates a drop in oil level.

Stop as soon as possible and fill-up the oil. 

Brake Pads Worn

It shows that the brake pads are worn. 

The light comes on before the pads wear to dangerous levels, giving you time to get them replaced. Nevertheless, don’t wait too long before replacing the pads.

Engine Glow Plugs

The glow plugs light in diesel BMWs should turn off before you crank the car.

If the light is flashing, the glow plugs need replacement. Glow plug issues affect the engine performance.

Diesel Exhaust Fluid Alert

It points to a drop in diesel exhaust fluid.

You need to top up immediately as the car won’t start if the fluid goes too low.

Fuel Cap Warning

It shows that the fuel cap isn’t sealed tightly. The light should turn off once you pull over and screw it on tightly.

If the light stays on for a day or two after tightening, your fuel cap might need replacement.

Air Filter/ Fuel Filter Warning

This warning light comes on when your air or fuel filter needs replacement. 

Final Thoughts

Memorizing all these BMW dashboard lights can be challenging, but it might prove crucial. Bookmark this article as a resource for yourself in the future! 

If in doubt about the meaning of a dashboard light, refer to the color code detailed above. If the light is red, consult your mechanic immediately. If it’s orange, the car should make it to the workshop. If the light is green, you have nothing to worry about.

If you are in the Little Rock area and have any questions, give us a call! (501) 214-1091

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