Could My Check Engine Light Be Indicating Something Serious?

August 2, 2019 10:49 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

It’s natural for people to feel a creeping sense of panic when the check engine light illuminates on their vehicle’s dashboard. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to say just from the presence of a check engine light alone what the issue might be with your vehicle. It could be something extremely minor, or it could be something that puts you in immediate danger.

In any circumstance, when your check engine light comes on, your best bet is to get your vehicle to a mechanic in New Palestine, IN as soon as possible, and to avoid driving the vehicle until you do. Here’s some information about the check engine light and what it could mean.

Important background information

The way mechanics determine what’s wrong with the vehicle from the check engine light is to run diagnostics and get the diagnostic code, which was standardized across all automakers in 1996. There’s a connector underneath the steering column where the mechanic will use the diagnostic tool. There will typically be a small cost associated with diagnosing the code—you can purchase your own code reader if you wish, but that does not necessarily mean you’ll be able to fix the problem yourself. Code readers will allow you to turn off the check engine light, but that will not fix the underlying problem that resulted in it lighting up in the first place.

When your check engine light comes on, it will likely appear either orange, yellow or amber, depending on the make and model of your vehicle. One thing that’s consistent, though, is that you don’t want to see the light start flashing. If it does, that means there’s a more serious problem with your vehicle, such as engine misfiring. This could result in the catalytic converter overheating, which could quickly become a fire hazard in some scenarios.

Some other examples of issues that could result in the check engine light coming on include a need for replacement spark plugs or ignition coils, a need to replace oxygen sensors, an issue with your mass airflow sensor, problems with fuel injectors, issues with the thermostat, issues with the evaporative emissions purge control valve or a loose gas cap.

Ultimately, while you shouldn’t freak out if you see the check engine light come on, it is important to take it seriously. If the light comes on and you also notice a difference in the performance of your vehicle, then it’s crucial that you get the vehicle off the road and to a mechanic as soon as possible.

After you’ve had the code identified and the problem diagnosed, whether you continue driving is up to you and really will depend on the severity of the problem. Your best bet is always going to be to make the necessary repairs as soon as you can. There are some issues that you should absolutely not continue driving with under any circumstances, but there are other issues that might only result in reduced gas mileage. Most mechanics will tell you to make the repairs now so your vehicle will operate at peak efficiency.

For more information about what you should do if the check engine light comes on in your vehicle and what it could potentially mean, we encourage you to contact the skilled mechanics in New Palestine, IN at Auto Air & Heating, Inc. with any questions or concerns. We look forward to working with you!

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