We've all seen the check engine light. It's not an entirely bad representation of an engine -- You have the accessory pulley on the left hand side, and something on the right, perhaps a connection to the transmission, or air box. It's generic enough to be anything really.

What I can't figure out is, why on earth does it have a pulley on top? I'm no expert in engines, but I did work in a quick lube shop and have seen under a lot of hoods. I don't think I've ever seen an engine with a pully on the topside.

Check Engine Light

  • Maybe its a stylised 1950's era air-filter pancake on a carburettor throat? Phones don't look like a phone icon anymore either. Sep 6, 2017 at 16:41
  • 2
    ... Oh geez, I'm like that kid who saw a flippy disk and thought it was a 3d printed save icon, aren't I? I've seen those, I just hadn't made the connection.
    – Sidney
    Sep 6, 2017 at 16:44
  • I'll convert my comment into an answer then Sep 6, 2017 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


Maybe its a stylised 1950's era air-filter pancake on a carburettor throat?

air filter source

Icons tend to be retained long after the thing they were based on has changed substantially

phone icon car and motorcycle roadsign

  • This for sure. Mechanical fan attached to the front of the motor, and disc style air filter on top.
    – JPhi1618
    Sep 6, 2017 at 17:25
  • 2
    I see Evel Knieval is still appearing on UK road signs... :p
    – PeteCon
    Sep 6, 2017 at 18:39
  • Really you need go back to only the mid 80's when such was the norm style air cleaner, at least on an american v- engine.
    – agentp
    Sep 6, 2017 at 20:33

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