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June 14, 1999 Article
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Ok lets talk about WARNING LIGHTS and Traffic lights.

A Red Traffic light means STOP, right? An Amber Traffic lights means Caution, Right? (Except to some people that seem to think that Amber lights means that they are to stomp on the gas pedal and rush into the intersection.) The warning lights in the instrument panel of vehicles were made red and amber for the same reason.

A red warning light means that something is wrong with the system that light is meant to monitor and you should STOP THE VEHICLE to determine what is wrong. An amber warning light also means that there is something wrong in the system that the light monitors and is a CAUTION to the operator. The reason that all of the warning lights come on when the ignition is just turned to the ON position was designed as a SYSTEMS CHECK, to let the operator know that the lights are working. (The idea being that a person would see if any of the lights were not working and get them repaired or replaced. BUT??????) All the warning lights are explained in the owner's manual of each specific vehicle but many times, older vehicles have had these manuals lost or removed. I will give some GENERAL explanations about these lights.

The red oil, or in some cases a red light showing a drop shape or other illustration, comes on when the engine has a loss of OIL PRESSURE. Oil is pumped through vital areas of the engine by a pump and that pump will generate pressures as high as 70-80 pounds per square inch. If the oil pressure drops below what has been determined as a safe level, the red oil light will be lit up on the dash. This light does not just mean that you should; (a) Drive on down the road thinking that there is something wrong with the light. (b) Pull over to pull out the dipstick just to check the oil level and then continue down the road because the engine has lots of oil in it, so there MUST be something wrong with the light.

IF THE VEHICLE IS OPERATED WITH NO OR LOW OIL PRESSURE, MAJOR DAMAGED WILL BE DONE TO THE ENGINE! And that is why they make the light RED, meaning DANGER!!! The Red temperature light is just as dangerous as the oil light. The red light is turned on when the engine in the vehicle has EXCEEDED safe operating temperature and again the vehicle should be stopped IMMEDIATELY or major damage will result. DO NOT ATTEMT TO TAKE THE CAP OFF OF THE RADIATOR TO CHECK FOR COOLANT. HOT ENGINE COOLANT WILL GIVE 2ND OR 3RD DEGREE BURNS TO SKIN. But, the coolant level is on of the first things that should be checked but you will have to wait for quite awhile for the system to cool down enough to open the Radiator.

DO NOT JUST LOOK INSIDE THE PLASTIC RESERVOIR BOTTLE AND ASSUME THAT THERE MUST BE COOLANT IN THE RAD BECAUSE THE BOTTLE IS NEARLY FULL. The system was designed to push coolant into the reservoir as it expanded from being heated and there is a valve in the system that IS SUPPOSED TO allow the coolant to return to the rad as it cools and shrinks. If the valve is not working properly, the reservoir bottle can be full but the rad can be very low.


Continued next week.

"TOOT" Rick "The Wrench" - June 14th,1999
Copyright of Rick The Wrench, 1999

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