Check Engine Light On?
Here’s what it means
If the check engine light has illuminated on your dashboard, your mind is probably already racing through all of the potential issues you might have with your car.
What does the check engine light mean?
Is it safe to keep driving?
Why is it happening?
How do I fix it?
How much will it cost?
But, there’s no need to hyperventilate over a little amber light.
There are a number of reasons why your light may have appeared and we’re going to look into some of the most common.
Keep reading for more.
What is the engine light?
The check engine light is a simple safety feature that alerts you to a potential problem with your car.
When something isn’t quite right with your car’s engine computer the small icon located on your dashboard will light up.
Depending on how severe the problem is, the engine light may also flash. Either way, you’ll probably need to head to your local mechanic to investigate the issue further.
What could cause the check engine light to come on?
The check engine light will come on when there is a problem that is, or could potentially, impact on your car’s emission control system.
The issue could be as simple as a broken fuel cap or it could be a bit more serious.
Common causes for the engine light to be on
There are many reasons why your check engine light might come on but here are a few of the most common:
- Your fuel cap is loose
- Faulty spark plugs
- Mass airflow sensor failure
- Malfunctioning aftermarket alarm system
- Oxygen sensor needs replacing
Fuel cap is loose
If your check engine light is coming on because your fuel cap is loose then it’s an easy fix. Simply tighten the cap or if it’s lost or broken, replace it with a new one.
Faulty spark plugs
If your spark plugs and wires aren’t working properly that little light will probably show itself.
While you can replace spark plugs yourself, it’s best to get a professional on the job to make sure everything is done safely and correctly.
Mass airflow sensor failure
Your mass airflow (MAF) sensor regulates how much air goes into the engine. This is important as it calculates how much fuel is needed to achieve the optimum air-fuel ratio (AFR).
If your MAF sensor isn’t functioning as it should it can cause incorrect fuel injection which can lead to bigger problems with your car.
If you have MAF sensor failure you’ll need to head to the mechanic for a replacement.
Malfunctioning aftermarket alarm system
An aftermarket (installed any time after the car has been manufactured) alarm system can cause your check engine light to come on if it isn’t working properly.
If your car is struggling to start, your battery drains quickly, your alarm is going off at unusual times and your check engine light is on, you will likely need to have your alarm system reinstalled.
Oxygen sensor needs replacing
Your oxygen sensor is one of the most important sensors in your car as it monitors oxygen levels in the exhaust as exhaust leaves the engine.
Why is this important?
So that your engine computer knows the ratio of fuel to air and can adjust accordingly to keep your car running as smoothly as possible.
A qualified mechanic will be able to identify any problems with your oxygen sensor and replace it if necessary.
Faulty catalytic converter
A catalytic converter changes harmful chemicals like carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide as a way of protecting the environment.
When your convertor isn’t working as it should your vehicle is at risk of running at a higher temperature which also poses a fire risk.
If your check engine light is on and you suspect it is your catalytic convertor, head straight to the mechanic for a check.
Is it safe to drive your car with the check engine light on?
Check engine lights are there as a warning. The light will only appear when there is an issue so it is always advisable to book in with your local auto mechanic to identify the problem and get it fixed.
Even for minor issues, it’s best not to drive any long distances with the light on as it will usually lead to bigger problems with your car in the future.
Can the check engine light turn itself off?
On occasion, the check engine light may appear and then disappear.
But, if you notice it popping up regularly it’s likely a sign that there is an issue with your car that needs to be addressed.
What should I do with a check engine light?
If your check engine light is on, it’s time to book in with your local car professional.
With all of the potential problems, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Is your check engine light on?
Not sure what the problem is?
Book in with your local team at Jax to find the issue and get it fixed.