Snowflake / Frost Warning light Explained

As drivers, we never like warning lights appearing on our dashboard, particularly when we have no idea what they mean. The snowflake warning light is one such symbol that causes confusion among many.

Snowflake Dashboard Warning Light Explained

That snowflake dashboard light, or frost warning light is a temperature warning. The snowflake warning light automatically illuminates on the dashboard in yellow/amber when outside temperatures fall close to freezing at around 3°C (37°F) or below.

On some vehicles, the warning light may turn red when temperatures fall below zero degrees Celsius. Although the warning light will go off when the temperature rises above this threshold, there may still be low lying areas of road that may have frost cover.

Frost Dashboard Warning Light
Frost warning light

Frost warning light
This is the frost warning light. The symbol of a snowflake and road lane markers is commonly used by many vehicle manufacturers to warn of low temperatures and the potential danger of icy road conditions.



Snowflake Dashboard Warning Light
Snowflake warning light

Snowflake warning light
Certain vehicle manufacturers may use this symbol of a snowflake to warn of icy road conditions. Additionally, if equipped, this warning light is also used when ‘snow mode’ is activated.




What to do When the Frost / Snowflake Warning Light Comes On

When the frost / snowflake warning light comes on, the road surface may be slippery due to frost. Skidding is related to excess speed and using the foot brake too harshly. In this instance:

  • Slow down
  • Increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front. This allows you more time to slow down gradually and to use the foot brake less harshly.
  • Slow down before you get to a corner and avoid using the foot brake whilst cornering.

How Does the Temperature Warning Work?

To read the outside temperature, a sensor is placed on your car. The location of the sensor varies from being placed in the lower front grill / bumper of your car, to inside of a side mirror or inside the driver’s door.

Is the Temperature Accurate?

The sensor itself is very accurate, but the outside temperature reading can be slightly inaccurate due to factors such as engine heat, road surface heat, direct sunlight etc.

The Frost Warning Light Isn’t Working

In order to read outside temperatures, the sensor is exposed to the elements leaving it a little vulnerable. If the frost warning light isn’t working, the sensor may have been damaged by road debris. Additionally, if the sensor is covered in dirt, mud, oil etc, it will affect the accuracy of the temperature readings.