What Does Warning Light Mean + Why Does It Come On In A Minnesota Blizzard?
Cars nowadays are very technologically advanced. In fact, they are basically moving computers. That's a good thing. Technology and sensors have made roads safer. Sensors can tell you when you are departing your lane. They can even pick up the highway speed limit sign. Some cars even can automatically dim your bright lights when oncoming cars come. It's truly amazing how far these machines have come. But, sometimes weather can get in the way.
I drive a 2020 Toyota Tundra, and every so often I have a new light come on in the dashboard that I have to stop and figure out exactly what it is. For the longest time, I couldn't figure out why my traction control would turn off. I eventually figured out that the button was just below where I had been plugging in my USB for my phone charger, and I had been hitting it and taking it off. Fortunately, that was just a user error.
Today, in this late-season blizzard, I had another light turn on. It looks like this:
Excuse the dusty display. You don't really notice how dusty it is until you zoom in and take a picture!
This is the pre-collision sensor symbol and it's warning me that the sensor is blocked and it will no longer be able to help me with stopping the truck to avoid an accident. I've honestly never had it assist me (knock on wood), but it's a good thing it lets you know it's not working. So why isn't it working, and why does it seem to happen in a blizzard?
When heavy wet snow accumulates on the grill of your vehicle, it may block the sensor. It's an easy fix in most cases. When you stop the vehicle (in a safe place of course), clear the snow or slush from the grill of the vehicle. It may take a few minutes, but your sensor should come back and the warning light will go away.
This also can cause adaptive cruise control also known as radar cruise control from working, since some cars use that same sensor.
Other sensors can be blocked by snow and slush too. If your vehicle is equipped with a blind spot monitoring system, it too can be disrupted. If snow or frost is piled on your car side panels, it can block the sensor leaving you without that protection, and throwing a warning as well.
The bottom line is to make sure you clean the snow off your car before you drive it. Not only is it a good idea, but it's also illegal to drive with snow piled on your car.