Cars might be an integral part of our lives, but as the years pass by, we know less and less about these vehicles that take us places. A recent poll found that covered 5000 Americans found that few of the younger generation were aware about the meaning of the basic car warning symbols. The respondents in the survey were asked if they knew the meaning of a tire pressure warning light, a coolant temperature warning light, and an oil pressure warning light. These symbols were chosen as they are some of the most important and common warning lights in a car.
While 73 percent of the Americans who participated in the survey failed to recognize the oil pressure warning light, 40 percent did not recognize the coolant temperature warning light and 30 per cent did not understand the tire pressure symbol. These parameters point to key parameters of vehicle health and the lack of knowledge about them definitely gives cause for concern.
Many respondents wrongly believed that the oil warning light meant their vehicle’s oil was low. Actually, it means that the vehicle’s oil pressure is low. Hence, topping up the oil does not make any difference. The low oil pressure could be due to many factors like worn engine bearings, a malfunctioning oil pump, a malfunctioning oil pressure relief valve, aerated oil, and a clogged oil filter.
The coolant warning light warns the driver when the coolant temperature is higher than normal, and the engine is almost overheating. If the motorist continues to drive, he risks engine failure and could incur heavy repair bills. Just knowing the meaning of this symbol can help you save a significant amount of money in the long run.
Driving on when the tire pressure warning symbol comes on can also be catastrophic as it can end up causing a blowout and the driver could lose control. This warning light is critical.
Those who were older demonstrated a significantly higher level of knowledge when compared to their younger counterparts. 55- to 64-year-olds scored noticeably higher than any other age demographic, including their 65 and older counterparts. Motorists aged 35 to 44 scored higher than drivers aged 45 to 54.
It is not really clear whether knowledge about cars is declining because those belonging to the younger generation are not bothering to learn or whether it is because motor cars are more complicated nowadays and have a greater number of parts.
The respondents to the survey were also asked how soon they took their vehicle in to a mechanic after a warning light came on. The responses to this question indicated that there is still scope for hope. While 19 percent of the respondents said they would take their vehicle in to be checked on the same day, 34 percent said they would take it within a week, 10 percent said they would do it within a month, while 11 per cent said they would not take it to a workshop at all. 23 per cent of the respondents said they would try to fix the issue themselves. Given the lack of knowledge, especially among young respondents, chances of the issue being solved are quite slim.
The longer these warning symbols are ignored, the greater the extent of the damage to the vehicle. Maybe it is just as well that sophisticated onboard diagnostics systems and connected vehicles which have the technology to keep drivers informed about their vehicles at all times are being developed. More and more people are depending on their mechanics rather than on their own knowledge of cars.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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