Are Car Warning Light Exclamation Marks A Safety Risk?

Warning lights on your dashboard should never be ignored—they’re as vital to your safety as wearing a seatbelt.

These lights come up whenever your car has serious problems.

Among the warning lights you may encounter while driving, those with exclamation marks can seem the most ominous – and rightfully so.

They can signal severe issues, such as brake failure, putting you at risk of a potential crash. Therefore, when you see them, you should take action right away.

In this article, we’ll explain what every car dashboard warning light with an exclamation mark means, so that you’re prepared and never caught off guard.


What Does The Exclamation Mark Warning Light Mean?

It can mean various issues, some of which you can fix on your own, while others may require the expertise of a mechanic.

Here’s a general run down of the most common lights with exclamation marks.

Light With Exclamation Mark In Brackets

That’s the Brake Warning Light. It’s usually an exclamation mark inside a circle, with brackets at both sides of the circle.

This light is affected by the brake system issues in cars, such as low brake fluids or worn brake pads. It can also turn on when the parking brakes are engaged.

Light With Exclamation Mark In Horseshoe

If you spot an exclamation mark inside a horseshoe symbol, that’s the Tire Pressure Light.

This light illuminates when there is a significant deviation in tire pressure, such as underinflation or overinflation.

It can also be caused by changes in temperature, or punctured tires.

Light With Exclamation Mark In Triangle


Seeing an exclamation mark inside a triangle symbol on your dashboard? This is a general warning light, often referred to as the Master Warning Light by Toyota and other car manufacturers.

It isn’t exclusive to problems with specific parts of the car.

Sometimes, it serves as a reminder for routine maintenance tasks, such as an oil change. Other times, it can also come on when you don’t close a door properly. It can also light up simultaneously with other warning lights.

To know exactly what it means, you can either look at your Information Center for text, check for other lights or look at your model’s manual.

Light With Mark Beside Steering Wheel

A light with an exclamation mark positioned next to a steering wheel symbol is called the Power Steering Warning Light. It’s a tell-tale sign of a problem with the vehicle’s electronic power steering system.

It can light up due issues such as a malfunctioning power steering pump, a fault in the steering angle sensor, or a problem with the power steering fluid.

Car Warning Light Exclamation Mark: Step-By-Step Solution


In this section, we’ll go through all the ways you can fix the underlying issues causing these warning lights to stay on. Let’s get started.

Exclamation Mark In Bracket (Brake Warning Light)

Disengaging parking brakes usually turns off these lights.

If it doesn’t, you can try the following:

  1. Try to reset the light first, tap the brake pedal multiple times and restart the dashboard.
  2. Check the brake fluid level and top it up if low.
  3. Inspect the brake pad thickness and replace worn pads if needed.
  4. Inspect the Anti-lock Braking System for corrosion or broken rings and replace faulty parts.

Still seeing the lights on? In that case, you might have to take a trip to the mechanic.

Exclamation Mark In Horseshoe (Low Tire Pressure Light)

You need to inspect your tires to get rid of this light.

Here are some ways you can get rid of it:

  • Check the tires for signs of damage or deflation.
  • Drive above 50 mph for 10 minutes to reset the sensor.
  • Turn the key to “ON” without starting.
  • Hold the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitor System) reset button until the light blinks 3 times, then wait 20-30 mins for sensor update.
  • Wait a few seconds.
  • Turn off the car and disconnect the positive battery cable.
  • Honk the horn briefly, and reconnect the battery.
  • Use a tire pressure gauge to check each tire’s pressure and adjust it to the correct PSI.

Exclamation Mark In Triangle (Master Warning Light)


Below are some ways you can turn off the Master Warning Light.

  • Look at your Information Center for any messages about issues.
  • Verify the functionality of the car’s keyless entry system.
  • Inspect the car’s battery and replace it if necessary.
  • Check if the car doors are closed properly.
  • Inspect the car’s headlights for damage, dirt, cracks, or moisture.
  • Assess the fuse for any potential issues.
  • Take care of the Engine Temperature Warning Light, Brake System Light, TPMS Light, Traction Control Light and VSC Light if one of them is also on.

It’s not guaranteed that these might turn the light off, as it monitors a lot more of the car’s system.

If these don’t work, the most you can do is check your manual and look for a fix or go to a mechanic.

Exclamation Mark With Steering Wheel (Power Steering Warning Light)

The only way to get rid of this light is to make sure your power steering system is working properly. Here’s how you can do so:

  • Verify power steering fluid level and replenish if low.
  • Carefully inspect the belts to ensure they’re not damaged or slipping.
  • Turn the steering wheel and see if it feels stiff or makes a whining noise .
  • If you spot either of the two symptoms above, replace power steering pump.
  • If the wheel gets straight up stuck or you can feel bumps through it, replace steering rack.

Maintenance Tips To Preventing Such Issues


You should have an exclamation mark-ree dashboard after following the above steps.

Now, let’s talk about how you can stop it from lighting up again – sort of. You can’t completely prevent it, as the Master Warning Light can still glow because of less serious reasons.

However, ways to make sure you see it as little as possible:

  • Check and top up fluid levels regularly.
  • Monitor and maintain proper tire pressure.
  • Schedule routine inspections and maintenance.
  • Replace worn-out belts and hoses promptly.
  • Address unusual sounds or vibrations promptly.
  • Ensure a healthy battery and clean terminals.
  • Follow recommended oil change and filter replacement intervals.
  • Keep the fuel tank at least half full to prevent sediment buildup.
  • Maintain tire alignment and balance.
  • Address warning lights promptly, don’t ignore or delay repairs.


Q: Is it safe to drive with an exclamation mark warning light on?

No, it can be the sign of a serious issue, and thus needs to be addressed immediately.

Q: Can I fix the car warning light with an exclamation mark on my own?

In some cases, you can. You might need special tools though.

Q: Are there any risks associated with ignoring the car warning light with an exclamation mark?

Yes. Driving with the light on means your car can get damaged because of underlying issues or pose a safety risk.

Q: How dangerous is a red exclamation mark on dashboard?

It depends. Some lights are either red or yellow as standard, based on the manufacturer. You’ll need to check your car’s manual to see if it has color coded meanings for such warning lights.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, taking care of warning lights with such marks is incredibly important.

Even ones signifying seemingly minor issues, like a slightly open door, can end in disaster, and not just for you.

Remember, when it comes to car safety, there is no room for complacency, no matter how seemingly small a problem may be.

Stay alert, take immediate action, and prioritize your well-being on every ride.

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