text.skipToContent text.skipToNavigation


Your car’s dashboard is filled with gauges that disclose its relative health and operating status. Most of those gauges measure self-explanatory diagnostics, but others quantify more obscure aspects of the car’s condition. At Pep Boys, we have assembled a directory explaining the various dashboard gauges to help alleviate confusion and ensure your vehicle is running at its best.


Commonly used and self-explanatory, your car’s fuel gauge approximates the amount of gasoline remaining in your tank. In most modern vehicles, the fuel gauge will also include a warning light that will illuminate when gasoline levels are dangerously low. You should not continually allow fuel to reach dangerously low levels before refueling, because your car’s fuel pump is immersed in gasoline, which acts as a coolant for the pump. If fuel is low, the pump can be exposed to air and overheat, possibly leading to pump failure. Therefore, your car’s fuel gauge needs to be constantly monitored.

Fuel Gauge

Your car’s engine gets very hot while it is running, so it requires a cooling system to avoid overheating. Sometimes that cooling system can fail to do its job. If your engine begins overheating, stop immediately, turn off the ignition, and call for a tow. Driving with an overheating engine can lead to the need for extensive and expensive repairs..


Tachometers calculate the speed your car’s engine is rotating while in operation and shows it to you in revolutions per minute (RPM). If the gauge reaches dangerously high levels, typically indicated in red on the tachometer, the engine is rotating at a high velocity, which can result in vehicle complications. The tachometer should be monitored, as it is related to both power output and fuel economy. Generally, the higher the RPM reading, the more fuel consumption and power the engine is outputting. Lower, consistent RPM levels on the tachometer indicate the engine is operating at an optimal level, resulting in better fuel economy.

Temperature Gauge/Lamp

Dashboards differ on how they display the temperature of your engine coolant. Some cars include a gauge that measures coolant temperature and varies from cold (C) to hot (H), while others feature a thermometer that will illuminate red if your engine is dangerously hot. If the coolant temperature warning light appears or the temperature gauge reaches red levels, this indicates the coolant temperature has reached an extremely high temperature. Driving while these warning lights are engaged can cause extensive engine damage. Stop the car to allow it to cool and consult a Pep Boys professional to diagnose the problem.

Oil Pressure Gauge/Lamp

Another gauge type typically found in older cars is an oil pressure gauge or lamp. Not all dashboards will contain an oil pressure gauge; newer vehicles have an oil warning lamp to caution drivers the oil level is low. Oil pressure is vital to your engine’s performance, and its absence will result in severe engine failure. If the gauge reaches dangerously low levels or the oil lamp appears on the dashboard, take your car to the nearest Pep Boys for service.

If you are experiencing any issues or indications with your dashboard gauges, contact your nearest Pep Boys. Our certified technicians will perform a diagnostic check and determine if your car needs maintenance.