Oil warning light: Time for a change?

Columnist

Cheap for him, maybe. Me, I’m going to accustom myself to watching the oil light burn.

Which got me thinking: Isn’t it time for automakers to design a new oil pressure warning light?


(All icons: Marlon Correa/The Washington Post)

My younger daughter got her driver’s license six months ago. Has she or any other teenager ever seen an oil can like the one currently appearing daily on the dashboard of our Mazda MPV? It looks like something Dorothy would use to lubricate the Tin Man. Or something you’d rub in the hope of getting three wishes from a genie. Whatever association once existed between that particular antique container and the 30-weight keeping your engine from seizing up is long gone. I doubt such a can has been used since the days of Karl Benz.

But what pictograph instantly says “oil”? I asked The Post’s Marlon Correa to help me come up with some new icons.


But would that be too confusing for today’s young drivers? Do they know that oil is the result of organic decomposition? Or would seeing that particular light just make them think, “Oh, ‘Jurassic Park’ must be on tonight”?



Or is that too busy, too hard to read as your pistons are fusing to the cylinder walls and your car is juddering to a halt?


Simple, classic. I suppose dumber drivers -- those who don’t understand the workings of the internal combustion engine -- might see that and think, “I better pull over. I’m low on pelicans.” But I’m confident most of us will realize we’re low on oil.


As long as people don’t think it’s a bottle of mustard. I’d hate for drivers to roll down their windows and ask the motorist next to them for Grey Poupon when the light comes on.

What do you think? What new icons should replace obsolete ones? It isn’t just the oil pressure light. I’m looking at my computer screen right now and it suggests I save my document by clocking on what appears to be a floppy disk. When’s the last time you shoved one of those in your PC? Or take fabric care labels. They look like alien petroglyphs. Surely you can do better.

Send me your suggestions.

kellyj@washpost.com

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