Porsche Dashboard Lights’ & Symbols’ Meanings

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Every leap forward from Porsche has been earned by pushing heroic limits on the track. The intensity of the most famous (and infamous) races in the world has allowed Porsche engineers to develop a system of advanced diagnostics to keep your Porsche at its best — whether it sees the track or not. So as a bona fide Porsche pilot, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about your Porsche dashboard symbol’s meaning. If you encounter other Porsche dashboard warning lights not discussed here, you can always contact our Porsche Service Center.

Porsche Dashboard Symbols’ Meaning: Revealed

With nearly 1,000 system faults detectable by your vehicle’s diagnostic computer, you will only be aware of them through the illumination of about a dozen or so alert icons. Most icons attempt to be universal across all marques, but most OEMs retain their own set of icons that are specific to proprietary equipment. Some of these icons will even illuminate in tandem with others and show colors like green, orange, and red. Red, as you might expect, is cause for the most urgent attention. So what are your Porsche dashboard symbols, and what do the dashboard symbols mean? Let’s take a look:

Your Check Engine Light:

Located on the tachometer (which displays RPM), your “CE” light might come on and remain lit or even blink. A blinking light typically indicates something emission-related and can be as simple as a loose gas cap or as complicated as a fuel delivery or ignition problem. Go ahead and check that gas cap. If it’s tight and your CE light remains on, come and see us right away.

Your Tire Pressure Warning Light:

This exclamation point in what appears to be a “lampshade” is actually a frontal view of a tire with very low pressure. This light might indicate the need for you to air up your tires, but it might also indicate a fault with your spare tire or one of many different sensors. If this light turns red, it indicates a flat tire is present, which requires immediate attention. Your tire pressure warning light is located on your speedometer.

Your ABS Warning Light:

Located on your tachometer, this light is well known as one of the top Porsche Cayenne dashboard symbols after a driver has gone seeking adventure over the river and through the woods. Quite literally. The light comes on when the system is either active or when it detects a fault in electronics, hydraulics, or modulation. Depending on the severity of the issue, you might need to seek roadside assistance for a tow. If you are driving with adequate braking ability, then come in and let us handle it from there.

The Sideways Key:

This light could mean a variety of things, from a locking fault to your fob simply needing a battery. If this symbol turns red, you have an ignition lock fault and must immediately call for roadside assistance.

The Porsche Profile With Up & Down Arrows:

If your vehicle is equipped with adaptive suspension, available on the Porsche Panamera & others, you might see this light from time to time. If yellow, this light shows selected status or a mild fault of sub-par operation. If this symbol is red, then it indicates a serious adaptive chassis system failure requiring immediate assistance.

The Red Thermometer:

This light will illuminate red which indicates an over temperature event. Shut off the vehicle immediately and allow it to cool. Ensure fluid levels are correct and top up if necessary. Your cooling system is pressurized, so make sure that adding coolant is done only when the engine has cooled down.

The Red Oil Can:

This indicates an oil pressure issue is present that makes the vehicle unsuitable for driving. Call for roadside assistance, and let us investigate.

The Red Battery:

This indicates a fault in your starting/charging system and can only be remedied at your Porsche Service Center. Additionally, this light might also mean that your system is overloaded, and certain accessories might power-down until the fault is remedied.

The Shock Absorber:

If this icon lights up in yellow, then it either indicates a selected setting or a minor fault. If the shock absorber illuminates in red, it might indicate an air leak, fluid leak, or critical malfunction. Driving is not recommended as serious damage may result.

The Bird’s-Eye View Of A Powertrain:

If this icon is yellow, it might suggest that an AWD fault is present or that a shifting fault has occurred. If you and your Porsche Macan have found yourselves off the beaten path lately, this could be the reason why. If the light is red, then you might have a drive mode failure or parking brake failure.


  • The Red Exclamation Mark: This is a master fault indicator that corresponds to multiple systems requiring immediate attention.

As thorough as this list is, we can go on with even more. Many people find these lights troublesome, but they are really there for your benefit (and your vehicle’s). Your technician doesn’t have to guess what your vehicle needs. Your Porsche knows. And can tell them. Now that you understand some of the most common Porsche dashboard symbols’ meaning, you can enjoy your Porsche with greater peace of mind.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the most dangerous warning light on your dashboard?

A good rule of thumb is that if it’s red, it’s bad. Any warning light that is illuminated red requires immediate action to prevent major mechanical damage. Warning lights will also turn red if there is a significant risk to your health and safety. For instance, if you see the word “Brakes” illuminated in red, you are at risk of system failure. Call for roadside assistance, and do not drive your vehicle.

What does the exclamation point mean on a Porsche?

In most cases, the large exclamation mark on your dashboard is a general alert. It is there to inform you of a non-threatening issue that you can learn more about in the message center of your vehicle. If you see any other warning light where there is a red exclamation mark, pull over and call for roadside assistance to prevent injury or system damage.

What is PSM failure?

PSM stands for Porsche Stability Management. Depending on your year and model, the system function may vary. However, the goal is the same. PSM is an integrated logic between braking, suspension, steering, and drivetrain functions. If you have a PSM warning light illuminated, a fix could be as simple as replacing the battery or a faulty sensor. Sometimes a more complicated issue is indicated. Only a scan at our service center will reveal the exact issue.

How do I turn off the dashboard warning light?

Any Porsche dashboard light is on for a reason. Sometimes it’s a small thing. Other times not. The only way to know for sure is to have our Porsche Service Center investigate and then responsibly deactivate the warning light once the correct repairs are performed. Failure to handle any repairs diminishes your connection to a superior drive. And that is why you got a Porsche in the first place. Isn’t it?

Porsche Atlanta Perimeter. Always a Green Light.

The factory-trained technicians at our Porsche Service Center have over 165 years of combined service experience. They’ve seen it all and have worked on everything across the generations of Porsche vehicles. All of them are Porsche Certified. You wouldn’t have it any other way. And neither would we. As a proud member of the Jim Ellis family of auto stores, we take great care at a personalized experience every time you connect with us. We trust that you found our Porsche dashboard symbols’ meaning page helpful and look forward to seeing you at our monthly event where you and your Porsche could end up on TV. Ask us how.