What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?

What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?

There are few signs and signals in your car that are as alarming as the “check engine” light appearing on your dash panel. All too often, it happens late at night and far from home. But is this warning sign as alarming as it seems?

Rather than letting it strike a cold fear in your heart, learning what the check engine light really means may put your mind at ease. Read on to find out the usual suspects that cause the check engine light to appear, and what you should do when you see it.

Common Reasons the Check Engine Light is Engaged

When you’re not intimately familiar with the inner workings of your car, nothing is more worrying than the idea of a problem with the engine. But most of the time, the check engine light has less to do with the engine itself than with the systems that fuel it. Some of the most common reasons for this symbol to appear are:

  • A loose gas cap: Really, they should have a “check gas cap” light, because this is a common culprit, especially after refuelling. If you can do so safely, pull over and check the gas cap to make sure it was put back on securely. Be sure to inspect it for signs of wear at the same time.
  • A dirty oxygen sensor: The oxygen sensor is exposed to oil and the by-products of combustion every time you drive. Over time, the sensor’s ability to correctly manage the fuel and oxygen mixture will be diminished. If left unchecked, this will eventually damage the catalytic converter. A qualified service technician can diagnose this problem and in a matter of minutes. This is an example of a simple, inexpensive repair that can save you from a much more costly problem in the future.
  • Faulty spark plugs or ignition coils: Ignition coils use current from the battery to fire the spark plugs. Because of the high temperatures under the hood, these parts are particularly susceptible to failure. Again, this a problem that a qualified service technician will be able to identify and repair with relative ease.

Sometimes, the cause of the warning light is more serious, which is why it’s important not to ignore any of the signals of trouble with your vehicle.

What to Do When You See the Check Engine Light

The first thing to remember is what not to do, and that’s panic! Lights in your dash panel are meant to serve as warning signals. In the absence of any other signs of car trouble, the check engine light is likely not a critical issue. However, having your vehicle evaluated by an expert service technician can help keep that minor issue from becoming a serious problem.

When you see the check engine light, or any warning light in your dash panel for that matter, a quick trip to a trusted auto repair facility can set your mind at ease. Make sure the repair shop is one that is familiar with servicing your brand of car to cut down on the guesswork. After all, every expert repair begins with an accurate diagnosis of the problem!

Located in Kelowna, BC, Motor Werke specializes in the maintenance and repair of European automobile brands, such as BMW, VW, Mini, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi, Land Rover, Jaguar, Ferrari, Maserati, Bentley and Lamborghini. Book an appointment!