'What does that wrench icon on my dashboard mean?' [Newbie Guide]

Updated Mar 17, 2021 | Same topic: Beginner's Guide

Does it mean there’s something wrong with the car?

Despite what appearances might suggest, being a motorist is hard work. Sure, we might make it look so easy just sitting behind the wheel and indulging in our need for speed, but a lot goes into being the privilege of being seen as a competent driver.

Driver and passenger

Drivers make everything look easy, but they actually have a lot on their minds

Aside from taking to heart the driving lessons and traffic rules that are prerequisites for getting our licenses, we have to know more than one route going to a particular destination (and that’s without Waze).

We need to be updated on fuel prices and which gas station might give us the best deal. We constantly have to work on our hand-eye coordination that’s crucial to our role behind the wheel, and on top of all that, we need to be patient with other road users and resist the urge to fall into the road rage trap.

Every detail of driving is work, and it comes as no surprise that drivers have a lot on their minds. Sometimes, it gets to the point where certain necessities are almost overlooked, which is why the car occasionally offers a helping hand.

One of the more common reminders that might catch you off-guard is the wrench icon that suddenly appears on the car’s instrument panel.

PMS reminder dashboard

This is the car reminding you to set aside time (and money) for its needs

When you see the icon lighting up, is it a cause for concern? Does it mean there’s something wrong with your car? That particular symbol is just a reminder that your vehicle’s periodic maintenance service is approaching.

Depending on the manufacturer, a car’s maintenance interval might be set at every 5,000 or 10,000 km., and the icon is programmed to appear at a certain point before the upcoming milestone to give you a heads-up.

Hopefully, this will give you enough time to prepare your budget and free up your schedule so that you can give your car the attention it needs.

Mechanic working

You can ask the dealership technician if the reminder has been reset after the maintenance schedule

>>> Related: The 4 'Whys' of Car Maintenance That You Must Know

In some instances, the icon appears even after the vehicle has already undergone the necessary maintenance work. In most cases, the dealership simply forgot to reset the reminder.

Ignoring it doesn’t really pose a risk as it will eventually disappear until the next maintenance schedule, but if you want to be sure, you can either bring it back to the dealership or simply reset it yourself by disconnecting and reconnecting the battery under the hood.

More newbie driver tips at Philkotse.com.

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo


Joseph has been a member of various car clubs since he got his driver's license in 2004 – old enough to remember riding in taxicabs with analog meters, but his fascination with cars goes way back. After nearly two decades of working in broadcast media, he shifted gears by coming on board as Philkotse’s first Filipino member and staff writer in 2017.

Apart from his role in Philkotse as Content Team Lead, Joseph has written episodes for Drive, which has been airing on CNN Philippines for five seasons running. He has also delivered content for various car dealerships based in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Jeep, Dodge, among others.

Keeping his hopes high and his revs low, he dreams about owning a Kei car when he retires. Hates slow parkers.

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