What the Check Engine Light Could Mean

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What the Check Engine Light Could Mean

At some time, all of us will see the check engine light illuminate on the dashboard. This is a fairly common occurrence and more often than not, it is not a serious issue. The light is part of a built in computerized system, so you should not ignore it. In most cases, you can finish your normal drive and then investigate the issue. It is important to not confuse the check engine soon light with the service engine light because they have different meanings than the check engine light. The maintenance is required when a service engine soon light illuminates at a given mileage to let you know that a vehicle service is needed.


Common Reasons for Check Engine Light on Older Vehicles

There are several reasons your check engine light might come on. To have a better understanding of what may have caused the light to come on, it is significant to know what year your vehicle was built. If your vehicle was built before 1996 and your check engine light comes on, it might mean that there was a failure somewhere in the vehicle’s Electronic Engine Control System. If there are any actuators, solenoids, or electronic sensors not functioning properly, you are going to see the check engine light.

Common Reasons for Check Engine Light on Newer Vehicles

Starting in 1996 this check engine light began to monitor vehicles’ emissions. The check engine light is now required to monitor a number of different emissions factors, including the exhaust that comes out of the engine. The latest cars go even further and monitor the exhaust again as it is exiting the catalytic converter. These newer systems are so precise that the check engine light may come on if the gas cap is not tight enough. Also in newer vehicles, the system is so particular that the light will come on if there is a leak anywhere in the fuel system.

What to Do if your Check Engine Light Comes On

If the light on the dashboard illuminates, make sure to schedule an appointment with us so we can inspect the vehicle. There are two very serious visible warnings to look for are whether or not the light is red versus yellow and if the light is blinking versus staying solid. A red check engine light means you should not be driving the vehicle at all. If the light is blinking this is also a serious problem and means the vehicle should probably not be driven at this point. The main reason the light comes on like this is if there was a malfunction in the vehicle’s emission control system. If the check engine light comes on and stays on, but is not blinking or red, then you can check for a couple more signs. Finally, check your gas cap. Make certain it is tight and try turning the car off and back on again. This may help reset the light. In some cases, it may even take a couple of short rides to get the light to reset.


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