A check engine light indicates a problem with your vehicle.
A check engine light is one of the first warning signs of a problem with your car.
Check engine light technology has been included in all cars manufactured in the U.S. since 1996. Your check engine light is part of program in your car’s computer system that is constantly checking your vehicle’s sensors to look for problems.
If your check engine light comes on it could indicate any number of problems and means that it is time to come into AAMCO Minnesota for your free check engine light diagnostic test.
What Does a Check Engine Light Mean?
The check engine warning light is there to help you know when there is a problem with your cars engine and other systems. Your check engine light can indicate a huge number of problems, from a serious repair to a loose gas cap.
5 Common Causes for a Check Engine Light
While your check engine light can indicate hundreds of problems all with different causes, there are five common reasons why check engine lights turn on.
1) Spark Plug Wiring Problems
Spark plugs wear out over time and this can cause your engine to shake, stall, choke or chug. Your car’s spark plugs are what cause the explosions in your car’s engine that allow the cylinders to move. No sparks means no combustion and no combustion in your engine means you aren’t going anywhere.
2) Mass Airflow Sensor Malfunction
Your mass airflow sensor measures the amount of air flowing into your engine, without this sensor your engine can really suffer. If this sensor is malfunctioning your car may become hard to start, drag, jerk or hesitate when accelerating, you may idle too fast or too flow and your engine can hiccup.
3) 02 Sensor Replacement
Your 02 sensors determine the amount of oxygen (02) that goes into your car’s engine to fire the pistons and power your engine. The 02 sensor reads measurements and is able to make adjustments to the mixture of fuel and oxygen. If your 02 sensors need to be replaced, your engine may not be receiving the right mixture of oxygen and fuel.
5) Loose Gas Cap
While it may sound silly, a loose gas cap is one of the most common culprits for a check engine light. If your check engine light comes on after pulling away from the gas station, pull over, turn off your engine and tighten your gas cap. Once you have tightened it, restart your car and if the light stays off you have fixed the problem. If the light stays on, then it indicates there is something else wrong, but at least you have ruled out one easy cause!
Catalytic Converter Replacement
This is one of the more expensive reasons not to ignore your check engine light. Your catalytic converter is a part of your car’s exhaust system and helps to change harmful pollution into less harmful emissions. If the catalytic converter has gone bad it has to be replaced, or you risk your car not running. If you are experiencing trouble with your exhaust system, schedule an appointment with your local Minnesota AAMCO location for expert muffler and exhaust repair.
Related: Reasons Your Car Won’t Start
Flashing Lights vs. Static Lights
Typically there are two types of check engine light alerts, one light that is flashing and one that is not flashing. A non-flashing check engine light typically indicates a less serious problem than a flashing check engine light. While a non-flashing light may indicate a less severe problem, you should still get this checked out as soon as possible.
While many of today’s cars are smart enough with computer technology to compensate for performance when there is a problem, you still don’t want to drive around for too long with a check engine light. Driving your vehicle with a non-flashing check engine light could increase your car’s emissions and decrease your car’s fuel economy. Ignoring these warnings for too long could lead to a more critical, and expensive issues.
What To Do If Your Check Engine Light Is On
It’s important not to simply ignore your check engine light if it comes on.
Even if your car is running fine at the time, leaving the problem could lead to bigger problems down the line.
If your check engine light comes on, look for a problem that requires immediate attention. Is the light flashing, or red?
This indicates a serious problem. Also, check for any other warning lights on your dashboard and your dashboard gauges. In some cars, a yellow check engine light means there is a problem that needs to be investigated and a red or flashing light means there is a serious problem and you need to stop right away. Your gauges will help you to determine problems like overheating and low oil pressure. If your car is indicating there is a serious problem you should pull over and turn off your engine as soon as possible.
When your check engine light comes on, you should bring your car to a mechanic as soon as possible to have your check engine light diagnosed. If you check engine light is on, AAMCO Minnesota offers a free check engine light diagnostic test.