Everyone has been there before: you go to start your car, and you’re greeted by the unwelcomed glow of the “Check Engine” light. What could be wrong? Is it a minor computer error or is your car on its last legs? There really isn’t any one way to know for sure without taking a look under the hood or bringing your car into the mechanic. Here are a few of our tips for when the light does come on and the most common causes.
Don’t Ignore It
While some may suggest just to ignore the light and hope that it turns off on its own eventually (some even choosing the cover it with a piece of black tape), the Check Engine light doesn’t often come on for no apparent reason. Even if the issue is minor such as a sensor malfunctioning, it should still be taken care of sooner rather than later.
- Oxygen Sensor
Your car’s oxygen sensor measures the unburned oxygen in the vehicle’s exhaust system. If it starts to fail, it will trigger your Check Engine light to light up. If you put off replacing the sensor your engine will burn more fuel than needed. Additionally, you will begin to experience a loss of fuel economy, and a faulty sensor could lead to damage to your spark plugs and catalytic converter and spark plugs.
- Loose, Missing, or Damaged Gas Cap
The gas cap is there for many reasons, the most significant function being to maintain fuel tank pressure. If the fuel cap is missing, you could be losing fuel through evaporation, causing you to fill up your tank more frequently.
- Faulty Catalytic Converter
Your catalytic convertor works to convert harmful carbon monoxide into more environmentally friendly carbon dioxinde. If you don’t replace it, you could lose more fuel to evaporation, causing you to take more trips to the gas pump to fill up your tank.
- Mass Airflow Sensor
The mass airflow sensor is used to measure the amount of air that enters your engine. This measurement is used to determine how much fuel your engine needs to operate efficiently. If you put off replacing this, it could lead to damage to your oxygen sensors, catalytic converter or spark plugs.
- Spark Plug or Plug Wires
Spark plugs are one of the driving forces behind internal combustion engines. They are used to ignite the air and fuel mixture in the combustion chamber of the engine. The spark plug wires transfer the spark from the internal ignition coil to the spark plugs. Failing to replace faulty spark plugs or wires could reduce engine performance, fuel economy, and can clog the catalytic converter.
If Your Check Engine Light Is Blinking
If your Check Engine light is blinking, it is usually a sign of a severe problem that needs to be taken care of ASAP. If you notice the light blinking, we recommend you limit your driving, consult with your vehicle’s owner’s manual and schedule an appointment with your local car specialists at Clutch Auto Repair.