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IGNORING that illuminated red exclamation mark on your car’s dashboard is easy — but neglecting the alert for too long can prove costly.

The red exclamation mark on your dashboard, surrounded by a circle, is your brake system warning light.

2Closeup of car tachometer with many illuminated indicatorsCredit: Getty

An active brake system warning light means that your vehicle’s parking brake is engaged or your brake fluid is low.

Drivers that activate their parking brake facilitate their brake handle to flip a switch that triggers the warning.

Cars with low brake fluid similarly flip a switch that illuminates their brake system warning light.

Your initial reaction to a brake system warning light should include checking to see if your vehicle’s parking brake is engaged.

If your parking brake’s off, you may be dealing with worn brake pads or a hydraulic system leak from low brake fluid.

Worn brake pads deteriorate the pad’s steel backing and rotors — and rotors with extreme levels of wear will eventually lead to a driver losing control of their brakes.

A driver operating a vehicle with hydraulic system leaks risk losing part or all of their car’s braking ability.

It’s vital that you pull over to a safe area and get your car towed to a garage or service center if you see a steadily lit brake system warning.

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Steady brake system warnings can indicate that brake failure is near.
Flashing brake system alerts signal low or empty brake fluid or a higher-priority hydraulic system leak.

It’s essential to follow up on brake system warnings if you want to avoid higher repair costs down the line.

Most auto dealership service centers offer free multi-point inspections to bring in new service and maintenance business.

A multi-point inspection will help you identify brake system issues and any additional problems occurring within your vehicle.

2Understanding your car’s dashboard lights can make the difference between small and major repairsCredit: Getty

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How Sri Lanka's economic collapse raises alarm bells for other emerging markets

During the 2010s, Sri Lanka had one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia. 

Things took a 180-degree turn at the end of the decade as the country's economy stumbled. In May 2022, the government defaulted on its debt for the first time in history. 

As inflation continued to spiral out of control, with a massive shortage of food, fuel and medicine for the country's 22 million people, Sri Lankans took to the street, forcing the president, Gotabaya Rajapaksato resign and flee the country. 

Even though Sri Lanka has a new president, Ranil Wickremesinghe, protests continue. Inflation has risen past 50% — and could hit 70% — making it harder for people to survive. 

Many experts believe that Sri Lanka's story is a warning sign for emerging markets. 

"Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic collapse in its modern history," said Sumudu W. Watugala, assistant professor of finance at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. "This is due to long-standing structural weaknesses exacerbated by a series of idiosyncratic shocks. Sri Lanka's crisis can be a warning sign to other developing nations because it's a classic emerging market crisis in many ways."

So what does Sri Lanka's economic crisis signal about similar economies and emerging markets? Watch the video to learn about more risks involved in emerging markets, how Sri Lanka's economy collapsed and the country's path forward. 

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