2012 VW Jetta TDI, Dash Warning Lights Explained
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive videos and podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, servicing and maintaining vehicles in Vancouver for quite a few decades. And also 19 time winners, only 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers. How you're doing, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So, we're talking about dash warning lights. We're going through a little series on this, just revealing maybe some of the things that you could find out for yourself if you looked in your owner's manual, which most of us don't do. This is for a 2012 VW Jetta TDI, which is a diesel version. What's going on with the warning lights on this VW? What do they mean?
Bernie: Yeah, well. Before we look at pictures, let's just talk about their ... I mean, there's essentially two basic colours of warning lights. There's amber, and there's red. And so red are the like stop light kinda thing. You gotta ... it's serious, you gotta deal with this right now in some way, shape, or form. And amber is something that's ... it's a caution. There's something you need to attend to at some point, but not immediate. Those are basically most of them. I mean, other than, there are dash lamps sometimes that are green or blue, like the blue one will usually mean for the high beam light. But these are not so much warning, they're just information lights. Yeah, so that's basically the key. Again, red is like stop. Amber is like caution.
Mark: And amber is just a fancy name for yellow.
Bernie: Yeah, exactly, yeah, yeah, but it's actually am- ... I was going to say amber or yellow, but it's like, you know.
Mark: So let's get up a picture of the dash and see what's going on.
Bernie: Sounds good. Okay, so you can see the dash here?
Bernie: Okay. Alright, so this is basically a view of the dash, when you turn the key on and for a couple seconds all the lights will come on. And that basically, they're on to tell you that the actual light bulb is working, and the indicator itself, the system's actually working. So, we'll just start over in the right hand side here. We've got a few ... so this is, again, an amber light. This for the airbag system, that there's a malfunction in the airbag. Some vehicles, this will actually be a red light, but on the VW it's an amber light.
ABS brake system at fault. This is for the traction control system. So those are our amber lights, again these are like sort of indicators that something isn't quite right, but not necessarily wrong. And sometimes these things will blink. The traction lamps sometimes will come on. The traction control system basically keeps your, essentially your wheels from spinning when you're accelerating hard. That will be one of the things. And so you happen to sometimes, say, on a snowy road, you accelerate hard, this light might blink, indicating that the traction system wasn't able to give you traction. But it doesn't indicate really a problem, that's just normal.
This is the ... I'm just looking around here. Yeah, so this is brake warning light, and this can often be multi-function. This can also be ... this can indicate the parking brake is on. It can also indicate that your brake fluid level is low. So, that's if your parking brake is not on and the light's still on, have your brake fluid level checked or check it yourself.
This red light hiding behind here, this is a seatbelt warning light, that your seatbelt is not on. So again it's red, it's like urgent, they want you to have your seatbelt on. And this green light that's hidden back here, it actually has a ... I think it has a view of a foot. This is to indicate to push the brake pedal down to shift out of park, so that light I believe usually goes off when you push the brake pedal down. And once you shift out of park the light's off.
So we move over to the left side of the dash, now we have ... again, we'll go over the ambers first. The check engine light. Again, if this light comes on, it indicates you need to have something looked at on the vehicle related to the emission system or engine performance. If it's blinking, however, that can indicate a catalyst damaging misfire. Now this is a diesel, so I'm not certain in terms of blinking on diesels when or how that occurs. But on a gas lean engine vehicle, if it's blinking you need to get it fixed very quickly before you cost yourself more money.
Of course, that looks like a gas can, that's your low fuel warning light. On your left, the glow plug light. So, when you turn your key on normally this will illuminate for anywhere from a second to maybe a few seconds if you're in a cold climate. And as soon as that light goes out, then you start the engine, so that indicates the glow plugs are on. That's to warm up the engine to start.
And this indicates that the catalyst, or the exhaust particulate filter on this vehicle is got too much soot in it. And again there's caution and service that needs to be done around that. We won't go into that here.
On the red light side of things, that's your temperature warning light, so that could be your engine's overheating. This is a critical thing. If that light comes on, shut the engine off and figure out what's going on with it, or take it in. Same with this one here, this oil can light. If the engine is running and that light is on, that's a bad thing. So make sure you shut the engine off immediately and have it serviced, diagnosed.
This light here, the battery, looks like a battery. It indicates that the charging system voltage is low, it's not that the battery's bad. So what will likely happen, if that light comes on while you're driving, you'll probably have a dead battery soon. So again, that's something that needs to be tended to pretty quickly.
And this light here that looks like a steering wheel indicates a fault with the steering system. These vehicles use electric power steering, so this would indicate a fault with the electric power steering.
Now, that's basically all the lights on the dash that are on right now, but I did actually take a couple of photographs of the manual.
If you own this vehicle, I mean go through the manual and have a look at it, because it explains what all these lights are, and actually ... so there's a few things I missed, I'm not going to go into all the details here. If you have the car, get a manual. You can usually find these kinda things online, but it has a list of the red lights. And then if you have a look over here it has a list of the amber lights I think come on for different issues. There's also a few green ones as well, but these are usually just related to other driving issues and not anything of any concern with the engine or operating system of the vehicle. And that hereby ends our picture show.
Mark: So how different will the warning lights be on a gas engined VW compared to this TDI?
Bernie: That's a good question. Not a lot different. The only major difference, of course, you won't have a glow plug warning light on the gasoline engine because they don't have glow plugs, and also that soot filter light will not be there. I'd say that there may be on a gas ... yeah, that's pretty much, those lights won't be there. I'm not sure on a gas engine if there'll any extra ones. Probably not. So there'll just be an absence of two lights there. But again, look through your manual. The key is look through your manual and just kinda get used to it. But again, if there's any red lights on, the key is to shut the vehicle off right away. Look and see what the information is. Call a mechanic you trust, or a service facility you trust and figure out what's going on with it.
Mark: Great, so this is in your range of VW's cheating software system that allowed them to fake good emissions when they actually had really poor emissions, and recalled lots of vehicles. Thank you, they paid me a lot of money for mine. Do you work on many of these?
Bernie: Oh yeah, we still see lots of them. I mean, there's still lots on the road. I mean, they've either fixed them up or people ... I'm not even sure what everyone's chosen to do. It's kind of a story that's sort of filtered away in the back burner. I mean Volkswagen doesn't sell these diesels anymore. But yeah, we still work on lots of them. I mean, they are a very good vehicle, and obviously from an environmental standpoint I'd say they're a lot better than diesels have been in the past, but they're obviously not ... they weren't what they were supposed to be, and that's why they got into trouble, and ... but yeah, other than that, I mean, it's a great vehicle. It's very good.
Mark: So there you go. If you have a VW dash warning lights, you need some more information, have a look in your ... or whatever vehicle ... have a look in your manual and you'll find out what's going on up there. Important for maintaining and driving safely in your vehicle. And of course if you want any kind of service or maintenance, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead, they're busy. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube channel, hundreds of videos on there over the last six or seven years as well. Thank you for listening to the podcast. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching.