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What It Really Means When Your Check Engine Light Is On

Since most people aren’t car mechanics, all they know is that when the “check engine” light comes on is there goes their next paycheck. On the other hand, the amber light comes on whenever a sensor is not sensing. Such a simple thing, but it requires an expert to figure out the problem. What does it really mean when your check engine light comes on?

Why Was The Check Engine Light Established At All?


Car manufacturers began to standardize their computer systems starting with the 1996 year models. A protocol called OBD-II listed diagnostic codes and told carmakers to make a universal way to access this list of codes. If there was trouble in the engine, this access would tell a mechanic what it was.

Common Causes Of The Check Engine Light Coming On

CarMD published a list of the common causes of the check engine light coming on in 2021:

  • Faulty sensors
  • Loose gas cap
  • Coils
  • Spark plugs
  • Thermostat
  • Fuel injectors
  • Catalytic converters
  • Evaporative emissions coil and/or solenoid

Here’s the kicker, though: if the orange or amber check engine light flashes, get to a mechanic pronto. That means that something operating at high temperatures is malfunctioning and could start a fire.

Of course, the check engine light could come on for no reason, or the humidity is adversely affecting it. However, don’t take the chance it could be as simple as that, or you could end up paying more to have your car repaired.

Check Engine Light Tips

When the check engine light comes on, act immediately. A delay could cost you more money than a new car would:

  • Check the gas cap. Tighten it, if necessary.
  • Check all your sensors. They get covered in dirt and oil, so of course, this sets off the check engine light. Get all your sensors, especially the oxygen sensor, checked out.
  • Have the emissions system checked. This is interactive with the car’s other systems and will cause a massive failure after too long.
  • Check your gauges. If the oil or water light is on, then the check engine light will come on, too. Fix these things first, and the check engine light will go off after a while.
  • Check your air intake system. Loose hoses or holes in hoses cause the check engine light to go on. Tighten hoses or replace hoses with holes.
  • Check the battery and spark plugs. Neither should fail, but they do, sometimes. Get them checked out by a professional.

How To Handle That Little Light

Don’t, whatever you do, keep driving with that light on. It could mean expensive trouble. Most auto parts stores sell diagnostic machines. At least you’ll know what the problem is before finding a mechanic. If he reads you off the same codes that you saw on your code reader, then you’ll know he’s a reputable mechanic. Please contact Michigan Auto and Tire today for more information.

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