2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, Dash Lights Explained
Mark: Hi! It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and video series, and we're here Mr. Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience, 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How are you this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: We're talking about dash lights. We're going through our little series on explaining what all these funny little lights on dashboards are. We're talking about a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and the dash lights. Tell us what all these instrument panel lights mean.
Bernie: Sure. Let's just get right into the picture. Though saying it feels like a ... I feel like a broken record sometimes because so many of these icons look the same and they are from manufacturer to manufacturer. If you're watching this series, of course, what's most important is what relates to your own vehicle. This is a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan. It's a 3.3L gasoline-powered engine, which is pretty much, it's a couple different engine options, but there's no diesel so you're pretty much, I would say the lights in this are probably pretty much the same across the board.
We'll start with the red lights. As I mentioned in the past, the reds are the lights you want to take really seriously. They're meant to indicate urgent action is needed. However, I do find there's a couple here that are, at least one that's a little ... could be a yellow in my opinion, and on some cars they are. This light here that I'm circling, this is the airbag warning light. If something is wrong with the airbag system this red light will come on. Obviously, they don't want you driving without an airbag working but it won't affect your performance or drive in any way. It's just that if you get a collision there's a chance that your airbag won't be working if this is on. That's up to you as to what you want to decide to do.
These other red lights are certainly to be taken more seriously, many of them. This light here with the body with the seatbelt here, it just indicates your seatbelt's not buckled up. That action can be taken pretty quickly. If you have all your seatbelts buckled up and that light is still on, there's got to be a malfunction in the system. Usually, that's a very reliable light.
To the left, we have the battery, this light looks like a battery. This indicates low voltage in the vehicle system. It doesn't actually indicate there's anything wrong with the battery but usually it comes on when the alternator is not charging the battery. When the light comes on, chances are your car's going to be dead pretty soon. I would make my way to the ... as quickly as you can somewhere that you can have the vehicle serviced and repaired because you'll probably need alternator or maybe a drive belt. Sometimes when this light comes on, other lights will come on at the same time. Just be wary that that's something you probably going to need to service soon.
If we move to the right here, the oil can light. This is a very important light. This is a red light you would need to take very seriously. This indicates that there is no oil pressure in the engine. Also, of course, the electrical system can malfunction but don't take a chance on that. If this light comes on, check your oil first. If it's full have your vehicle towed in for service, it's very critical.
Same with this red light here, this is the temperature warning light. This is another one you really need to take seriously, indicating that the coolant temperature is too high in the engine. On this vehicle, it does actually have a coolant temperature gauge either to the left or right of the speedometer, I can’t remember. You can often verify it by looking at the gauge. If the gauge is, of course if it's high then you need to stop the vehicle immediately and have it repaired, towed in, get it repaired.
Up here, this is a brake warning light. Usually, it comes on with the parking brake on. When you release the parking brake, the light should go off. If it remains on, it can often indicate that your brake fluid level is low in the master cylinder, in which case you should have the vehicle inspected. You can look yourself and if you see fluid in there you're probably okay to drive it because it'll come on often when as brakes wear, the fluid will move from the master cylinder reservoir down into the brake calipers. It's not abnormal for the light to come but you should ... your brakes feel fine, have it inspected quickly within a day or two to see why that light is on, because if you're doing a fluid leak, of course, then your brakes will actually, pedal will fail. So it's important to verify what's going on with that.
This round light in the bottom, this is a security system warning light. If there's a malfunction in the security system this light will stay on. To the right, this is basically a power loss warning light indicating an issue with the electronic throttle or something that will cause the vehicle to run at reduced power mode. Again, that's a problem that needs to be fixed. There's our red lights.
Let's move on to the amber. This is the tire, low tire pressure warning light. If this comes on, first thing to do is inspect your tire pressures. Of course, if you're driving and something feels bumpy or not right, go out and have a look at your tires because you probably have some that's flat. This, again, if all your tire pressures are good and the light remains on then there's a malfunction in the tire pressure warning system. Handy light to have though, because at least you know you're not running on a low tire and you can get it fixed.
Low fuel warning light goes without saying, put some gas in the vehicle.
This one here, unfortunately, the picture is not to clear but it says ESPBAS. This is a brake assist system, electronic stability programming. Again that's like an issue with the traction control stability programming system. This is also a traction control warning light. If there's an issue with either these systems, this light will come on and needs some service. Same with the ABS brakes. Again, these are all add-on, safety add-ons to your brakes. The stability programming just keeps the vehicle theoretically stable when you're going around corners or making some kind of maneuvers where the vehicle might slip. It just adds a little bit of safety to the vehicle but it's not absolutely critical to the function, so that's why they have amber lights to warn you that something needs to be repaired in that system. Without the ABS brakes working, by the way, the vehicle will still ... should still brake normally, it's just that when you put it on the vehicle could skid.
Finally, our last light on the far right is the check engine lamp. This is a very misunderstood light, but it's actually more of an emission system warning light. When this light comes on, there's a malfunction in the engine or computer system that could cause your exhaust emissions to be excessive. It's not a warning that your engine level is, oil level is low, although sometimes low oil level can cause this because it's a variety of things the oil level can cause. If the light's on solid, take it in for a service soon. Soon meaning anywhere from same day or a week or two if it's running fine. If this light is blinking, however, that indicates immediate need for service because the engine has a misfire that could damage the catalytic converter and cost you more money. Blinking light, get it fixed right away. If it's just on solid, get it fixed soon. That goes through our entire 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan instrument warning light.
Mark: The check engine light, I'm sure that's caused you more concern than it really should've because there are so, so many ways that that can be triggered. Everything from not having the gas cap on to, you name it, there's many things. It becomes really difficult to diagnose at times, is that correct?
Bernie: There are times it's difficult to diagnose. There are literally hundreds of things that will cause that light to come on. As you said, the gas cap is often the simplest thing. If it does come on, check it, just loosen your gas cap off, tighten it, if it's really loose then that could be why the light was on. That's usually the simplest thing, but there are just a variety of different things. Sometimes, interesting enough, an engine could actually be running rough where clearly the exhaust emissions are out of whack or they would be out of whack and the light doesn't come on. I'm scratching my head go, "Why would that be?" Anyways, there are a lot of reasons for that light to be on, but, most importantly, when that light comes on, if the engine's performing well like it's running seems seemingly normally, it's not urgent to fix it. You should have it looked at but it's not ... you don't need to panic and freak out. If it's blinking, as I said, you got to fix it right away.
Mark: There you go. That's our little walk-through of the warning lights on a Dodge, the dash lights and the warning lights therein on a Dodge Caravan 2008 vintage. These lights will apply across most years of Dodge Caravans, is that right?
Bernie Pawlik: Yeah, they will, at least around this vintage of van. This is that square boxy style caravan. I can't remember what year they started doing that, but I think '08 is early in that vintage. Again, with your own vehicle as I always say, get get your owners manual out, have a look, but if you're looking at this video or podcast, have a look at the ... have a look at how this compares to your dash. If it's the same then take all our advice we're giving you here because it's all there.
Mark: There you go. If you need some service on your vehicle in Vancouver, the guys to see are the Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112. You have to book ahead to have an appointment because they're busy. Two service advisors to help you out at all times as well. You can check out their website pawlikautomotive.com or our videos on Pawlik Auto Repair on YouTube, hundreds of videos on there, all makes and models of cars as well. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thank you for watching. We really appreciate it.