Understanding Your Check Engine Light

 Unless you’re a mechanic or car fanatic, you can be forgiven for thinking that the dash lights on your vehicle are fairly nonsensical. But even if you don’t understand what half of them mean, the one that’s sure to give you that cold feeling in the pit of your belly is the dreaded ‘check engine’ light.

Engine Light 101 

  • What does a check engine light look like?
  • What is my engine light saying?

What does a check engine light look like?

A check engine light is the orange-colored, engine-shaped light that is programmed to illuminate when there’s a potential problem. 

What is my engine light saying?

The appearance of the check engine light is showing that something isn’t quite right. There are multiple reasons it can come on—many of them minor and an easy fix. The light has been triggered because a sensor somewhere on the vehicle has communicated to the engine management system that a problem has occurred. This information is then stored in the vehicle’s onboard computer that can be easily retrieved by a car engineer.

Is a Check Engine Light Always Bad News?

  • 7 common causes of a check engine light warning

7 common causes of a check engine light warning

There are many (many!) common faults that trigger the engine light. These are 7 issues that are regular culprits: 

  • The fuel cap is loose: Yep, something as simple as that can trigger the check engine light. That’s because it doesn’t only serve to prevent fuel from splashing out and keeping it debris-free. The fuel cap also helps keep the fuel system correctly pressurized and stops noxious gases from leaking.  If the light has come on after you’ve filled up, be sure to check that it’s correctly replaced. Caps do have a finite lifespan and sometimes need replacing.
  • Spark plug/ignition coil issues: If one of these is malfunctioning this will cause the light to show. It’s another easy (and inexpensive) fix once you know what the problem is.
  • A problem with spark plug wires: Another relatively cheap fix that won’t break the bank.
  • Failure of the catalytic converter: This isn’t quite such good news as a new one can cost upwards of $200. However, the light is a warning that there’s a problem. This often means that prompt intervention can prevent total failure and an inexpensive repair can be carried out.
  • Failure of the O2 sensor: The oxygen sensor monitors the amount of unburnt oxygen in the exhaust system. Most newer cars have more than one. A replacement can cost upwards of $175 (plus labor). While the engine will continue to function with a faulty sensor, other damage can occur if it’s not fixed. Best to take a deep breath and put your hand in your pocket sooner rather than later for this one.
  • An aftermarket alarm: A badly installed alarm can have many repercussions, such as triggering the dreaded engine light. The best way to prevent this is to not cut corners when you have an aftermarket alarm fitted. If it’s occurred with a second-hand vehicle, then ensure a professional service to repair or replace the alarm.
  • Failure of the exhaust gas recirculation valve: This controls various gases within the car’s system and can get clogged. It can be a simple fix to remove, clean, and reinstall. If a new valve is needed this will cost anything from $125 upwards.

Has Your Check Engine Light Illuminated? Head to Autobahn of Boca Today

At Autobahn of Boca, we know the dreaded check engine light is likely to cause fear in the heart of the beholder. Visions of credit card balances or drawing your life savings are all thoughts that are likely to be whizzing around your head.

However, we’re here to put your mind at rest. While we can’t say exactly what’s wrong until we’ve examined the vehicle, you can rest assured that our trusted engineers will determine the problem and discuss the best option with you before any action is taken.

That’s the beauty of having prestigious marque engineers work on your vehicle. Their expertise is make and model specific, so you know you’re in good hands.  

Find out more at https://www.autobahnofboca.com/services/preventative-car-maintenance and book your consultation today.

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Autobahn of Boca Raton | (561) 286-8633 | 2540 NW 2nd Ave, Boca Raton, FL 33431

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