If you’re driving down the road, and suddenly, your check engine light comes on, it can be pretty frustrating. Not only are you distracted from driving, but you also have to wonder what is causing the problem.
The check engine light is one of the modern cars’ most common warning lights. The purpose of this light is to alert drivers when there is something wrong with their vehicle’s emissions systems or computer system. When this happens, your vehicle needs immediate attention from a Victoria BC mechanic before further damage occurs, making driving unsafe.
This is why it’s important to know what some common reasons for a check engine light are so that you can address them as soon as possible.
“Check Engine” Light: Flashing vs. Static
Most vehicles have a “check engine” light that lets you know when something’s wrong with the vehicle. The light can flash or be steady, and it’s usually located in the instrument panel.
Flashing Check Engine Light
A flashing check engine light indicates that your car needs immediate attention, and the problem may be serious enough to stop driving the car until it’s fixed. When you see this light, pull over as soon as possible and contact your mechanic or call roadside assistance if you’re unfamiliar with auto repair.
Steady Check Engine Light
A steady check engine light means there are minor issues with your car that can be fixed at home or by a mechanic without having to replace significant vehicle parts. The problems may include bad gas or oil leaks, low fluid levels in various car parts, loose electrical connections, or dirty air filters. Ensure these basic items are checked before assuming you need to replace anything major.
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What to do When Your “Check Engine” Light Comes On
If your car’s “check engine” light comes on, don’t ignore it. The light could mean a serious problem that won’t improve unless you take care of it. Here are some ways to deal with the situation:
Get your car checked by a mechanic as soon as possible. If you’re unsure what the problem is, take it to a garage or dealership where they can run tests and find out precisely what’s wrong with your vehicle.
Check your owner’s manual for other suggestions about what to do when the check engine light comes on. Some cars come equipped with a built-in “scan tool” that can tell you what’s wrong with your car without going anywhere else, while others require more complicated tests before they’ll give you an answer. Your owner’s manual should have instructions on using these tools and what they mean when they read off codes.
Possible Reasons for Your “Check Engine” Light Coming On
The light may come on for several reasons, and fixing it may be as simple as replacing a fuse or resetting the computer. But serious issues can cause the light to come on that require more extensive repairs. Here are some common reasons why your “Check Engine” light might be staying on:
Loose or faulty gas cap
The gas cap is a crucial part of your car’s emissions system. If it’s not sealing correctly, gases can leak out. This can cause the Check Engine light to come on and affect the performance of other emissions control systems in your car. Make sure that you tighten your gas cap every time you fill up your tank and keep an eye out for any signs of damage or wear on it
Worn spark plugs
A worn-out spark plug doesn’t ignite as easily as a new one, so you may notice that your car doesn’t accelerate smoothly or get up to speed at all — especially when you’re climbing hills or driving uphill at high speeds in traffic jams. Your car may also idle roughly or stall out when stopping at red lights or stop signs due to low compression caused by worn spark plugs.
A faulty catalytic converter
A catalytic converter is an emissions control device that converts harmful gases into less harmful ones before they leave your car through the exhaust system. If the converter fails, it can cause poor fuel economy, acceleration, and rough idling. This type of failure usually causes other problems with your vehicle, such as black smoke coming from the tailpipe and difficulty starting up after being shut off.
Dirty or faulty mass airflow sensor
The mass airflow sensor (MAF) measures the amount of air entering your engine and sends this information to your onboard computer. If there is dirt in this sensor, it will send inaccurate readings to your vehicle’s computer system, which may result in a Check Engine light being turned on.
The check engine light can be a rather annoying feature on today’s vehicles. But the truth is that it’s quite beneficial; the check engine light was designed to ensure your car is always in good working order and that any problems are nipped before they get too serious. Ensuring your check engine light is on isn’t hurt your vehicle, so don’t be afraid to keep an eye out for any codes it displays each time you drive.