What’s with all those dashboard warning lights in taxicabs?

warning light

Some drivers try to hide dashboard console warning lights with Post-It Notes. Sometimes, I’ll fold a receipt and stick it between the dashboard plastic cover and the dashboard bevel. Most drivers don’t give a crap and let their amber lights shine with pride.

Why do cabs always have warning lights? Should you be worried? Short answer: don’t worry about it.

Almost every cab I’ve driven has at least one warning light. The most common culprit: the alternator warning light. The alternator converts electricity from the mechanical motion of the engine to charge the car’s battery, which powers everything from the CD player to power steering and even the automatic transmission.

In most cabs, the alternator warning light triggers because the alternator is working super-duty to power all the extra electronic accessories in a taxi: the (sometimes functioning) security camera and hard-drive based recording equipment, a high power radio receiver and transmitter, the taximeter with battery backup (so it won’t lose the fare amount if you need to shut off the engine for a bit), the taxi top light, and additional computer or GPS equipment. That’s a lot of juice. The warning light trips because the alternator can’t keep the proper amount of voltage — at least not the expected voltage if it weren’t powering all this extra stuff.

The second most common culprit: low windshield fluid.

Nothing to worry about.

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2 Responses to What’s with all those dashboard warning lights in taxicabs?

  1. Oh, great and intresting post! I will give link on your blog to my daughter.
    Marry Christmas!

  2. who_the says:

    That light (in yellow) means ‘Service Engine Soon’ on the current Ford Crown Victoria. (2008 Ford Crown Victoria Owners Guide. page 11). This is the same as the ‘Check Engine’ light on earlier models. And, yes, it is almost sure to be on (and likely taped over) in most spares or 250,000 mile+ cabs.

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