Auto makers know that driving in the winter can be dangerous. Fog and rain can reduce your visibility, but even worse, the ice can make roads so slippery that they are almost undriveable at normal speeds. To help keep drivers safe and more aware of their surroundings, car manufacturers have started including a frost warning light on the dashboard. This warning light is controlled by a temperature sensor located around the front bumper, away from the heat of the engine. When the outside air passing over the sensor reaches a certain temperature, the computer turns on the warning indicator on the dashboard and warns the driver of potential frost on the road.
What the frost warning light means
There are 2 stages to this light being illuminated depending on the temperature outside. The light first turns on when the outside air starts to reach freezing temperatures, around 35° F. Even though water usually starts freezing at around 32° F, this warning light will turn on before that point to warn the driver that ice may start forming. In this stage, the light will be amber in color. As temperatures get lower and lower, the light will turn to red to indicate that the outside temperatures are below freezing and that ice is a real possibility.
Is it safe to drive with the frost warning light on?
As long as you pay attention to the light and use caution while driving, you can continue on your journey. This warning should not be ignored as ice poses a real threat to your safety on the road. It’s also very important that you have the correct type of tires for your environment. All season tires work pretty well in the winter, but if you live in an area with heavy snow fall, it might be worth it to invest in a set of snow tires.
If you think there is an issue with your frost warning system, get one of our certified technicians to help you investigate and determine the cause.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What Does the Frost Warning Light Mean? and was authored by Spencer Cates.