Every modern car has an onboard diagnostic system that lets you know when you car needs to be check, and this triggers the check engine light on your dashboard array.
The miniature engine icon glowing orange on your vehicle dashboard tool group is bound to switch on if the diagnostics system discovers a fault. It might not be cause for alarm and it does not necessarily mean that you will need to break the bank to get it fixed.
Should you Ignore the Check Engine Light?
The check engine notification does not mean you need to get a new car, though it never hurts to consider a few fun options, especially if you are already tired of your current car and in the market for a new car.
If this is you, then there is no problem looking at car adverts to decide which car suits your needs and budget, however, most of the issues that activate the check engine icon are often easy to resolve. It is, however, not a good idea to disregard it and you should get it checked out quickly.
The more you delay going to the mechanic, the more expensive it might be to fix the issue. If the check engine light is flashing, then the onboard diagnostics system has discovered a problem that requires urgent attention.
It is also important to note that the fault code that made the light come on remains on your car’s onboard system. You can recover it with a Bluetooth-enabled device connected to an application so as to get specific information about the issue. That way you have first-hand knowledge of the fault, which will save you money.
Do you have to Park When the Check Engine Light Comes On?
It is tricky trying to come up with a clear-cut answer to this question. If the check engine light is on but isn’t blinking, then there is no need to panic. You can continue driving but make sure to schedule a visit to a reliable car repair shop as soon as possible.
If you feel that your vehicle is not reacting normally, perhaps that the engine seems particularly slow or unresponsive, then you should park and request roadside support. Similarly, if you are hearing strange noises or your car is misfiring, you need to get expert hands under the hood.
On the other hand, if the check engine light is blinking, then you absolutely must park the vehicle. A blinking check engine icon means a major fault was discovered. Driving when your engine or its components are faulty can lead to more expensive issues. It is advisable that you pull over and have the vehicle towed to a repair shop.
Why is the Check Engine Light on?
Many typical issues justify the appearance of the check engine light. Recognize, however, that several other possibilities could be at the root of the problem. If you are unsure about what to do, take the vehicle to a mechanic who will identify the problem and suggest a possible solution.
Here are some common causes:
● Your fuel cap is not tightened properly
The fuel cap is a vital component of the vehicle fuel delivery system. Its prominent function is blocking gas fumes from escaping the fuel tank. It also regulates the pressure of the entire system. A slack fuel cap is among the most typical causes for the check engine light glowing.
If you notice the check engine light glowing after getting fuel, pull over and ensure that the cap is well-tightened. In some cases, you might even need to replace the fuel cap but luckily that won’t be an expensive fix.
● Your catalytic converter is bad
The catalytic converter is essential to the combustion process of your vehicle’s engine. It helps to reduce the environmental footprint your vehicle leaves behind.
The catalytic converter filters harmful gases and transforms them into safe elements. An issue with your converter system can indicate several potential faults, including an exhaust pipe or intake manifold leakage, or old piston rings.
● A malfunctioning ignition coil or spark plug
An ignition coil produces the electricity required by the spark plugs to burn the mixture of air and fuel in the cylinders. Regardless of the number of coils your vehicle uses, a faulty coil is sufficient cause for the diagnostics system to alert you to check your engine.
When it comes to spark plugs, bad or clogged plugs can lead to several problems such as your engine misfiring or not responding to acceleration. A spent coil can also manifest the same signs and can make the vehicle shut down suddenly.
Note that, if you drive a diesel-powered vehicle , these cars do not have spark plugs or ignition coils.
● Your vacuum hose is faulty
There are many hoses in the engine and other parts of your car. These components are all essential to the smooth operation of the vehicle. Consequently, if one of these hoses develops a fault, complications will occur.
A hose can get detached, break, or even get torn. The problems that you notice will depend on the particular hose that is faulty.
● Malfunctioning oxygen sensor (O2 sensor)
The oxygen sensor calculates the level of unused oxygen in the exhaust system of a car. It conveys that information to the car’s computer, which then applies it to control the fuel and air mixture that goes into the cylinders.
Your engine can continue running even when your O2 sensor needs replacement but it will consume more fuel than normal. A faulty oxygen sensor also has several negative long-term effects. It can harm parts like the catalytic converter as well as the spark plugs . It could also make a vehicle fail an emissions inspection.
● Your mass airflow (MAF) sensor is faulty
The MAF sensor measures the amount of air that goes into the engine. It is a vital component of the management system of your engine and without it, your vehicle can not adjust to shifts in altitude.
Indications of a faulty MAF include difficulty starting your car and an unexpected shift in the position of the gas pedal. Other indicators of a MAF failure are stalling and a reduction of the gas/mileage.
Should you Rely on the Check Engine Light to Know when to Fix your Car?
The check engine light gives you an idea, which may be specific or indefinite, that something is wrong with your vehicle. It does not, however, replace the inspection of a professional mechanic.
Do not put off auto repair just because the check engine light is not on. If you notice any strange development in your vehicle, you should see a specialist to help you fix it.
It is also advisable to familiarise yourself with the maintenance required on your car . You should know important things like when to change your brake pads, how to replace your tires and when to service your vehicle.