Is Your Check Engine Light a Serious Problem? Don’t Panic!
Is just a check engine light serious? This is a question that most drivers often ask mainly because an always check engine light could cause vehicle owners a huge amount of stress. No body really wants to be stuck with a pricey repair bill or worse an accident as a result of ignorance. However, there are always a few drivers often bury their heads in the sand preferring to ignore the situation altogether.
What is a check engine light?
Just like most car warning lights, the check engine light which can be a yellow, red or orange symbol that appears on your own car’s dashboard indicating that the vehicle’s system has malfunctioned. This light can either flash or remain steady. If your engine light is steady it indicates that there’s no reason for immediate alarm. However, if the check engine light is flashing this might be a sign of a crisis and you might want to pull over when possible.
How it works
Cars that were stated in 1996 and beyond are equipped by having an On-Board Diagnostic II system (OBD-II). It is sensors which are found within your engine system that monitor each operation in your car or truck and sends messages to its computer. Whenever an error code is sent for the part of the engine that’s malfunctioned, the check engine light of your car or truck switches onto alert you.
With regards to the model of your car or truck, the warning light may be red, orange or yellow. This symbol is obviously in the outline of an automobile engine and most times is followed by the words “check engine&rdquo ;.
Is it safe to drive with a check engine light on?
The question of whether it’s safe to drive with the check engine light on entirely depends on the type of warning light you get. Listed below are the 2 forms of check engine lights and what they indicate.
1. The check engine light is on but blinking or flashing
As stated above, this really is normally a sign of an issue that is a whole lot more serious. If your check engine light is blinking or flashing, the safest option for you is always to safely pull over and the shut down the engine. The next phase you ought to take is always to tow your car or truck to the nearest auto repair shop for diagnosis and repair.
2. The check engine light is on but steady
This means that there’s an issue together with your engine and even though it needs to be looked into, it’s not too serious at the moment. Despite it not being as serious, you shouldn’t ignore a steady engine light. Instead, book an appointment together with your mechanic when possible to avoid potentially worse damage in the future.
Service light vs engine light
Some people often confuse the service light with the engine light thus why we felt the nee do allow you to differentiate the two. The service light usually in the outline of a wrench and is followed by the words “service now” or service soon&rdquo ;.This is really a reminder that you need to take your car or truck because of its routine scheduled maintenance and doesn’t indicate any mechanical issues.
What could cause the check engine light to come on?
Your check engine light glows or blinks based on what is wrong together with your vehicle. This could be because of quantity of things. Maybe it’s indicating a serious problem or even a less urgent issue. Regardless, it’s easy to find out what is up together with your car. Keep in mind that the quicker you get it done the more money you can be potentially saving and also prevent more damage down the road. Here are common reasons as to why your engine light may be on.
1. Your gas cap is missing, loose or damaged
The big event of gas caps is always to seal the fuel system in addition to help to maintain pressure within the fuel tank. In addition to this, additionally they prevent gasoline fumes also known as hydrocarbons from hitting theaters to the atmosphere when you’re not driving your vehicle.
This is exactly what may happen if that you don’t replace your gas cap:
- You could find yourself taking more trips to the gas station
- You can lose lots of fuel through evaporation
2. It’s about time you replaced your Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF)
This is exactly what measures the quantity of air that enters your car’s engine. Its main job is to ascertain just how much fuel your car or truck needs to run the engine efficiently.
This is exactly what may happen if your MAF isn’t replaced:
- You will in all probability experience reduces performance in addition to fuel economy
- Faulty sensors may potentially cause injury to your car’s spark plugs, catalytic converter or oxygen sensors
3. Your Oxygen Sensors need replacing
The goal of oxygen sensors is always to measure t6he amount of unconsumed oxygen in the exhaust system of your vehicle.
This is exactly what may eventually your car or truck if that you don’t replace your Oxygen Sensor
- You will get fewer miles per gallon and lose fuel economy
- The faulty oxygen sensors could possibly cause injury to your car’s catalytic converter and spark plugs
- Your engine will undoubtedly be burning more fuel than needed
4. Your car needs new plug wires or spark plugs
While your car’s plug wires deliver the spark to the spark plugs from the ignition coil, the spark plugs ignite the fuel/air mixture in the combustion chamber.
This is exactly what might happen if that you don’t replace the spark plugs or spark wire:
- Worn-out plug wires and plugs could possibly damage your car’s ignition coils and oxygen sensors or cause clogged catalytic converter
- You could experience poor performance such as reduced power or missing engine and also reduced fuel economy
5. Your catalytic converter is spoilt
The catalytic converter of an automobile helps in protecting or environment through the conversion of harmful carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. A damaged or spoilt catalytic converter is usually as a result of neglected maintenance.
Failure to replace a spoilt or damaged catalytic converter might lead to the next:
- Your car or truck running at a higher temperature
- Your car or truck will not pass an emissions test
- Experiencing reduced performance and fuel economy
Common things to do when your check turns on
In the event that the check engine comes on, here are a few recommendations on everything you should do:
1. Reduce speed and load
If you notice that the check engine light is blinking or any other serious performance problem such as loss in power, the very first thing you need to do is reduce your speed and then try to lessen the demands of your car’s engine. It will be a good plan to stop a towing track and take your car or truck to the nearest mechanic shop to possess it checked. This may prevent expensive damage in the foreseeable future
2. Check to see if there is a serious problem that may require immediate attention
Check the gauges on your dashboard along with the lights to see if there any indications for overheating or low pressure. These conditions signify you’ve to pull over and turn your engine off the moment possible. However, always make certain that you will find a safe destination for a pull over. On some cars, the red light means stop right now as the yellow one way to investigate the situation.
3. Use your car’s built-in diagnostic services if you have
Plenty of modern cars are designed with integrated remote diagnostic capabilities. This permits them to report on trouble codes and also schedule a service appointment. At present, many automakers including Land Rover, Fiat Chrysler, Volvo, Jaguar, Hyundai, and Ford support remote diagnostics along with the ability to schedule a service appointment.
4. Try to tighten your gas cap
Tighten your gas cap can very easily solve the problem. However, it could take a while before the lights reset. Additionally, there are vehicles that warn when your gas cap is loose.
Other things you should watch out for:
If your cable ends are loose or corroded as they could prevent your car’s battery from maintaining a full state of charge
make certain that the battery rating meets at the least the minimum, cranking amperage (CCA or CA) requirement for your vehicle
Ensure that you routinely check the problem of one’s car’s charging system and battery as both are critical to the correct operation of the electronic control system
The alternator/fan or serpentine belt on your vehicle is inspected for signs of wear or tear along with proper adjustment. This really is since they are an intrinsic part of one’s car’s charging system.
Can check engine light turn itself on?
The clear answer is no. naturally, once the check engine light turns on it means your car is speaking with you. The severity of the problem will depend on the kind of light along with the kind of error code the computer scanner has identified. As stated earlier, this may be as a result of faulty catalytic converter or failing oxygen sensor that will be more severe and costly to fix or it may be something minor like a free gas cap.
If you find your head racing at the sight of a check engine light, slow down, take a breath and analyze the situation.
Check engine light error codes and what they mean
Once you have gotten your check engine light error code, it is vital that you try and discover what it means. You will find a plethora of websites that explain such error codes in simple English that you can easily understand. Similarly, you are able to just type the error code on Google or another search engine. While doing this, you should are the make and style of your vehicle and the year it was manufactured.
More frequently than not, you are certain to get results regarding the problem your vehicle might be facing along with repair suggestions. However, one downside for looking up for code errors online is that they cannot accurately diagnose the problem your car is facing. Having the code might still signify it’s a general area defect thus requiring further diagnosis.
1. Error Code P0440
This is a very common error code meaning that the vapor from your own fuel tank is escaping to the atmosphere. The key cause of this is generally a loose gas cap. The logical solution here is to avoid your vehicle and tighten the cap or have it replaced altogether. Once that’s fixed the check engine light will automatically set off after driving for about 50 to 100 miles.
Should the light still remain on, this can signify the leak is caused by another underlying issue which needs to be determined by a professional mechanic.
Your options after reading the codes
Once you have browse the check engine light error codes you certainly can do either one of the three things:
1. Purchase an inexpensive code scanner and read it for yourself
If you are driving an older model then this may be a wise decision for you. The reason being the sporadic check engine light might you need to be because of minor issues. These scanners cost less than $15, there are even some that send information to your phone using a wireless connection.
2. Take your car to a mechanic and pay to have it diagnosed
Most mechanics accept waive this fee in the event that you agree to truly have the necessary repair services done at their garage.
3. Take your car to an auto spare shop and have the error code read for free
Obtaining a free check engine light diagnosis might be great for you particularly if the error works out to be something minor meaning you are able to correct it by yourself.
Will check engine light reset itself?
Once you have fixed the problem, your check engine light is likely to automatically come off after a few minutes of driving. When you have a signal reader then resetting your car’s computer error codes is possible. This will allow you to turn off the check engine light on your own. However, keep in mind that when you yourself have not fixed the core problem with your vehicle, this light should come back on after some time. Avoid this especially when your car up for an emissions test as this may outrightly make you fail the inspection test. Since sometimes the check engine light error code is stored in your computer system, it may neglect to illuminate on the dash.
A possible snowball effect is another disadvantage of ignoring your car’s check engine light warning. Each time a simple inexpensive part malfunctions but is left unattended, this may slowly but surely damage other areas as well which could again be costly to repair.
When not to panic if your check engine light comes on
How urgent could be the check engine light? As it pertains on should I pull over or go straight home? Should I check for something or begin to panic? This are simply a few of the questions that play the minds of most drivers each time they think of a check engine light warning. While there are numerous explanations why this could happen for your requirements, there are always a few situations where that you do not need to panic and here are some of them.
1. It may not be an emergency
Your check engine light rarely singles anything disastrous especially when it is steady, unlike some other lights that will come on in your vehicle including the oil light which could mean a big problem if that you do not address it right away.
Sometimes, if the light is steady it might signify you’re probably okay to drive a couple of more days or a few more miles. However, the smart action to take in this example would be to take your vehicle for diagnosis and repair if needed.
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2. It may just be a minor issue such as a loose, damaged or missing gas cap
Many car owners are not aware a faulty, loose or cracked gas cap may cause fuel in your vehicle to evaporate thus turning your check engine warning light on. When this happens, the first thing you should do is pull over in a safe place to be sure of your gas cap. Secondly, make certain that the cap is on tightly. Lastly, your check engine light should set off in about 10 to 20 minutes once you’re back on the way if this indeed was the problem.
A certified mechanic should be able to diagnose the issue quite easily
As a result of advancement in technology, we will soon be able to find out what the core issue is whenever our car’s check engine light goes on. For the present time, however, we still need certainly to depend on the services of certified mechanics which will be your only best bet of knowing what the problem is.
Consider other reasons why the check engine light might be on
Aside from a faulty, cracked or loose gas cap, there are always a dozen other explanations why your check engine light is on. A few of these reasons might be harder than you think thus requiring a professional mechanic to diagnose. Furthermore, many of these issues might not be fixed privately of the road. The triggers may be anything from the faulty catalytic converter or exhausted spark plugs to damaged ignition coils or vacuum hose.
Next time your check engine light occurs, just know when you will need the service of a mechanic in the near future, that you do not have to panic. It may be okay to help keep going provided that you ensure you will get the problem diagnosed and fixed as soon as possible.
How many more miles can you drive if the check engine light is on
Typically, provided that your vehicle is running smoothly you can still drive even though the check engine light is on provided to take your vehicle to the mechanic for diagnosis as soon as possible. When the check engine light is steady and not blinking, you can drive your vehicle for a huge selection of miles without encountering any grave issue. However, this, needless to say, is dependent upon the error code that’s stored on your own computer.
The most common check engine light repair costs
Costs for repairing whatever issue your vehicle has that’s inducing the check engine light in the future on vary greatly. According to CarMD’s 2016 analysis of millions of repairs, the cost of repair for the most typical kinds of check engine light problems can range between $20 to almost $1,200. Below are the most typical kinds of check engine light issues and the common amount of money it will definitely cost you to repair.
- Problem: Faulty oxygen sensor. Repair: replacement of the oxygen sensor. Cost: $259
- Problem: Loose fuel cap. Repair: Inspect tip check if replacement is essential or perhaps needs tightening. Cost: $17
- Problem: Mass venting sensor. Repair: Replacement of the mass airflow sensor. Cost: $378
- Problem: Ignition coil and spark plug. Repair: Replacement of the ignition coil and spark plug. Cost: $401
- Problem: Catalytic converter. Repair: Replacement of new OEM catalytic converter. Cost: $1,190
Why checking your check engine light is important
As the check engine light doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve a crisis, it is essential that you don’t ignore it. A lot of the times, it is a sign that you’ve to visit your mechanic for proper diagnosis. You would be surprised to know there are lots of drivers on the highway who just choose to ignore this warning sign. Paying attention to what your vehicle is attempting to express to you by giving an answer to the check engine light is very important because it might help you save from incurring more expenses when it comes to repairs as well as stop your vehicle from getting more damages as a result of a snowball effect.
It’s paramount that every driver whether old, new or potential know exactly what a check engine light means, how urgent it is and why they ought to not ignore it. Given that you’ve all the information you need what’s stopping you from being fully a better driver.