My VW check engine light is on, now what?

By Product Expert | Posted in FAQ, Service Center on Friday, December 4th, 2015 at 7:25 pm
Diagnosing Volkswagen Dashboard Warning Lights

Diagnosing Volkswagen Dashboard Warning Lights

It’s possibly one of the most frustrating aspects of driving a car. You’ve done everything right. Kept up with maintenance, and still, a light comes on. So now what. Diagnosing Volkswagen dashboard warning lights is no more an exact science than with any other automaker, unless you happen to have a diagnostic computer. Which, of course, we do. Before heading to get your vehicle serviced, you probably want some ballpark on what a light might mean, and we’re here to help.

What does the Volkswagen check engine light mean?

Probably of most concern, as it tends to be most common, is the check engine light in your VW. Very few car owners will make it without seeing this light at some point, and the reason is because it’s triggered by such a wide variety of issues. What you can bet on, is something is wrong with your emissions, but it can range from a loose gas cap to an overheating engine. The best way to find out what exactly is going on, and how likely it is to cause serious damage to your vehicle, is to bring it in. Other things that can trigger the check engine light include, but certainly aren’t limited to, worn spark plugs, a faulty O2 sensor, a failing catalytic converter, electrical problems, worn ignition coils and worn intake manifold gaskets. In other words, a whole host of problems are covered by just one light.

Read More: VW Tips & Tricks

What do my other VW dashboard warning lights mean?

Unlike the check engine light, the other lights in your gauge cluster are fairly easy to understand, once you recognize the symbol. When a light comes on, a part is generally worn, a fluid may be low or a sensor that monitors any part could be faulty. Take a look at the full list of VW warning symbols to get a better understanding of the one that’s plaguing you. Also be sure to keep checking back here at the Volkswagen of Springfield Blog for more posts like this one.

Volkswagen-Shift Lock
Volkswagen Daytime Running Lights
Steering System
Washer Fluid Low
VW Tire Pressure Monitoring
VW Rain Sensor Malfunction
Brakes need to be applied before the gears can be shifted.
The daytime running lights are on
Steering system problem, stop the vehicle. Solid light: power steering assist limited. Blinking light: steering system malfunction.
The windshield washer fluid is low.
Tire pressure is low or the monitoring system is failing.
Potential rain sensor issue. Turn off and on the engine. If light is still on, bring in for service.
VW Particulate Filter Diesel Engines
Oil level low
Low Fuel Level
License Bulb License Plate Bulb Failure
Fuel Cap Off Or Missing
The diesel filter is blocked.
You’re low on oil or the sensor isn’t working properly.
The vehicle is low on fuel. Stop by the nearest gas station to avoid running out of fuel.
The license plate bulb is burned out and should be replaced.
Incorrect key to start engine.
Fuel cap is missing, replace fuel cap.
Electronic Stability Control
Engine Malfunction On board Diagnostics
Electronic Power Control Exhaust Gas
Diesel Engine Pre-Glow Before Engine Start Up
Bulb Failure
Anti-Lock Brakes
Solid light: The electronic stability control or traction control systems are not working properly. Blinking light: The systems have been triggered.
There’s a potential issue with the engine. Bring the vehicle in for diagnosis.
Electric power control issue. The vehicle must be serviced.
Solid: Diesel engine pre-glow system is turned on.
Flashing: There may be a malfunction in the diesel engine.
Solid light: there is a bulb that is burned out; Blinking light: potential headlight system issue.
Potential anti-lock braking system issue.
Brake Pad Wear Indicators
Brake Light Bulb Failure
Automatic Transmission Malfunction
AdBlue Low Fluid
The brake pads may be running thin. Check brake pads.
Solid light: there is a bulb that is burned out; Blinking light: potential headlight system issue.
Something is wrong with the automatic transmission or with the system’s monitoring devices. 
The airbags or belt tensioning systems are faulty or the passenger airbags are deactivated.
The diesel exhaust fluid, AdBlue, is either low or the system is having an error.
AdBlue System Malfunction
Oil Pressure Warning
Hybrid Drive System Malfunction
VW Parking Brake Warning
Either the AdBlue system is malfunctioning or the system is not filled with the standard liquid.
There is no oil pressure. The vehicle should be stopped and the engine shut off immediately to avoid ceasing the engine.
There is a problem with the hybrid system
There is either a system malfunciton or the AdBlue fluid is too low, and the engine cannot restart.
The parking brake is applied, the ABS is malfunctioning, or the vehicle is low on brake fluid.
Hood Open
Electric Parking Brake Warning Light
DSG Transmission Too Hot
Coolant Level Low/Coolant Temperature High
Alternator Low Voltage
The hood isn’t latched properly and may fly up while driving. 
There is a parking brake error; see owners manual for more information.
The automatic transmission is too hot. The vehicle should be stopped until the transmission has had time to cool down. 
The coolant level is low or the vehicle temperature is getting too high. Stop the vehicle immediately to check the coolant.
The alternator system has low voltage or there’s a charging failure.