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Check Engine Light

December 3, 2018

Check Engine Light

If your check engine light is on, we can explain what it could mean and what you should do about it. When the check engine light illuminates, it can either blink or remain constantly “lit” depending on the problem. If the light is illuminated and solid, it’s not an emergency.  However, you should have your vehicle checked out. A flashing check engine light indicates a problem that needs immediate attention. If you notice your check engine light blinking here’s what to do:

Check your dashboard lights and dashboard gauges for indications of low oil pressure or overheating. These conditions mean you should pull over and shut off the engine as soon as you can find a safe place to do so.  If this occurs while driving, try to figure out if it’s a speed or load problem.

A load problem that results in a loss of power could occur when towing a trailer. Else the engine is having an additional speed problem, reduce your speed and try to reduce the demands on the engine(maybe going over a certain speed triggers the light). We recommend having the vehicle checked as soon as possible to prevent expensive damage.

Gas Cap Loose/Damaged

The gas cap seals the fuel system by maintaining pressure within the fuel tank (so you’re not wasting fuel while you aren’t driving). Often after a quick search, “How to Reset Check Engine Light,” the gas cap being loose is the easiest and cheapest solution to start with. Simply by refastening the gas cap can solve the problem (because it wasn’t properly fastened). This is a good way to reset check engine light.

So, after turning the car off and back on it should go away.  Take note that it may take a couple more trips before the light resets.  Depending on the vehicle, the dashboard may have a separate indicator that warns of a loose gas cap. The problems a bad gas cap can bring involve a fuel system evaporation – meaning your gas tank is going to empty faster.

Spark Plugs & Spark Plug Wire

Spark plugs are responsible for igniting the air/fuel mixture during the combustion cycle of the engine. The spark plug wires transport the spark from the ignition coil to the spark plugs. Bad spark plugs and spark plug wires will cause poor engine performance (reduced powering, pistons misfiring, reduced fuel economy).

In addition, worn plugs and wires can cause damage to the ignition coils and O2 sensors, while also clogging the catalytic converter.

Oxygen Sensor (O2 Sensor)

This device measures the levels of burned oxygen in your vehicle’s exhaust system. Symptoms of a bad O2 Sensor involve your engine burning more fuel than needed. This causes a loss in fuel efficiency and you get fewer miles per gallon. A faulted O2 sensor can cause damage to the exhaust system due to over-burning.

Mass Air Flow Sensor (MAF Sensor)

This device measures the amount of air entering the engine, which determines how much fuel is needed to run your engine efficiently.  A faulted MAF-Sensor will cause damage to spark plugs, O2 sensors, and even the catalytic converter.

Catalytic Converter

This helps “protect” our environment by “converting” harmful carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide.  Damage to this device can occur by any of the aforementioned parts. If this part isn’t replaced, the vehicle should be inspected for emissions.  This device will also cause the vehicle to experience reduced performance and fuel efficiency (and higher running temperatures).

If you find that you would rather get the car diagnosed, auto-zone is capable of helping search “autozone check engine light.” They will be able to provide you with the check engine light code, to easily assess what part the problem is.

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Disclosure: DriveSmart offers Protection Plans or Vehicle Service Contracts (VSC) may be referred as “extended car warranty”, or “auto warranty”. A VSC is not a warranty but provides repair coverage for your vehicle after your manufacturer’s vehicle warranty has expired. The VSC contract is with you and the vehicles owner and the VSC provider or administrator that will state what is covered in each plan.