Your vehicle’s check engine light is perhaps its most powerful warning system, as it can notify you of problems ranging from a loose gas cap to engine overheating. Unfortunately, because the check engine light can respond to such a wide variety of issues, it can sometimes be challenging to know how to react when it turns on.
To help you with this challenge, here are a few key steps that work for responding to check engine light illuminations regardless of the source of the problem.
If your vehicle’s check engine light comes on while you’re driving, don’t panic. And unless the vehicle is showing other signs of engine failure, such as smoking or clunking noises, don’t pull over immediately, either. Instead, take a closer look at the light.
If the light is yellow or blinking, then the problem is likely a minor one that should be examined by a mechanic as soon as possible, but it will not cause immediate harm to you or your car.
On the other hand, if the light is red or is constantly on, then you should pull your vehicle over and turn off the engine as soon as it is safe to do so. Call for a tow to a trusted shop.
Additionally, you should also check the other gauges on your vehicle’s dashboard. If they indicate that your vehicle is overheating or has low oil pressure, then you should pull over as soon as possible, regardless of the check engine light’s appearance. These types of problems require immediate attention, and if they’re ignored, they might cause serious harm to you, your passengers, and your vehicle.
Try to Identify the Problem
After you’ve found a safe parking spot, you should try to identify the reason that the check engine light turned on. If it clearly illuminated due to engine overheating or low oil pressure, then you should call a tow truck to bring your vehicle safely to a mechanic. However, if neither of these factors seems to be the issue, then you might have to do a little digging to discover the source of the problem.
One particularly common cause of check engine light illumination is a loose gas cap. When the gas cap is tightened properly, its rubber seal helps prevent the vehicle from leaking excessive emissions. However, if the gas cap is loose or the seal is broken, the check engine light will sense the problem in the emissions system and will turn on. Therefore, if your car’s check engine light comes on and the cause of the problem isn’t immediately obvious, you should try tightening your vehicle’s gas cap, as this can often solve the issue.
If this doesn’t work, then you may want to try using a code reader to find out what’s going on. Every issue that causes check engine light illumination produces its own digital code. By plugging a code reader into the system, you will likely be able to decipher the problem at hand.
Code readers are widely available at most auto repair stores and are often fairly inexpensive. However, keep in mind that it’s possible to misread a code reader, especially if you’re not very familiar with auto repair. When in doubt, contact a professional mechanic to get a second opinion and make sure that you’re not setting yourself up for more trouble.
Reduce Pressure on the Vehicle
Unless your vehicle’s problem is extremely minor, then you’ll likely need to take it to a professional to have it fixed and to have the check engine light turned off. If the problem is not severe, then you should be fine to drive your car to your mechanic on your own. However, you should do what you can to minimize pressure on the vehicle when traveling.
Reduce your speed if possible, and be sure not to tow anything unless absolutely necessary. Doing so will help limit the damage done to your car’s engine, which will help minimize your repair bills.
Contact Us for Help
If your vehicle’s check engine light is on, then you’ll want the problem solved as quickly and efficiently as possible. At M Service, our ASE certified technicians possess the equipment and skills necessary to get you back on the road in no time.
Since 1984, we have provided top-notch auto repairs and maintenance to customers in Walnut Creek, CA, and we would love to make you our next satisfied customer. Our friendly staff is here to help, so stop by the shop or give us a call today.