The engine temperature warning light, also known as the coolant temperature warning light, can appear on your gauge cluster for several reasons. To determine the cause, stop somewhere safe and turn off the engine as soon as possible. After everything has cooled down, you can begin diagnosing the problem.

Why is my Engine Temperature Warning Light On?

Whenever you start your vehicle, the engine temperature light will illuminate for a couple of seconds. This is only to verify that the bulb is working. If it remains on, it’s because the computer has detected a problem in the system. 

In most cases, the issue is related to coolant temperature or fluid levels. However, the problem can extend to other components. For example, fluid levels might be low due to an opening in the container through which liquids are constantly leaking out. There can also be mechanical damage to one of the coolant system components. 

What is the Engine Temperature Warning Light?

The engine temperature warning light or engine overheating light is typically represented by a thermometer submerged in two flowing waves. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, there can also be a symbol written as “TEMP” or “ENGINE OVERHEATING.” 

When there is an issue with your coolant, the warning light will illuminate red or sometimes yellow. The purpose of this is to indicate that there is either a coolant fault or the engine is too hot.

What Does it Mean if the Engine Temperature Warning Light is Flashing?

Your engine is kept cool by a mixture of water and ethylene glycol known as coolant or antifreeze. This liquid circulates throughout the engine system to maintain safe operating temperatures. Engine temperature warning light bulbs will start flashing red when the coolant is failing to move through the system and keep the engine running smoothly. 

If you’re driving when the light turns on, aim to pull over as soon as you safely can. Then shut down the engine and let your vehicle cool down for 20 to 30 minutes before inspecting anything. Once the engine is cool enough, you can use a rag or glove to remove the radiator cap, which pressurises the system to prevent the liquids within from boiling. 

It’s important to be careful when checking the coolant as the steam can burn you if it’s still too hot. If you find that the problem is low fluid levels, you can safely refill the container with water so that you can head to a service centre for a more thorough check-up. 

How Does the Engine Temperature Warning Light Work?

The engine temperature light car warning is almost always located on either side of the temperature gauge in your instrument cluster. You can use the temperature gauge as a useful guide to determine whether the system is too hot. Under normal driving conditions, the temperature shouldn’t exceed 100 degrees Celsius. Keep in mind that this is separate from the oil temperature gauge. 

Your engine contains a number of measurement tools designed to keep track of the functionality of key components. This includes a type of thermometer that measures temperatures, as well as a tool for measuring coolant levels. If any component detects a problem, a signal will be sent to the onboard computer. 

Modern cars will also save a diagnostic file that contains information about the event. This can provide useful details for your mechanic to work with later on.