It’s been a long trip. 3 days in the car, 9 loose-meat sandwiches, and 2 sunburns later, you’re just an hour from home.
As you go through that long tunnel…a light comes on. It’s not the daylight on the other end that you’re seeing…it’s that orange light on the dash that says, “check engine.”
Before you start biting your nails worrying about your car, join Beck’s Auto Center, your auto repair shop in Lafayette, Indiana, to learn what that scary light actually means.
What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?
The first thing to realize is that the Check Engine Light doesn’t always mean engine trouble. It’s just a general warning light that lets you know something is off and that you should look into it.
This could be something simple like a loose gas cap or a malfunctioning sensor giving you less than optimal fuel economy. But it could be something more serious like a misfiring engine or a worse sensor issue that could lead to costly repairs later.
Is a Check Engine Light Something to Worry About?
Short answer is no. Long answer is…it depends.
Of course, a check engine light shouldn’t be ignored, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to call a tow truck. Overall, this means you need to get the code checked to find out what code the computer is throwing.
Does the Check Engine Light Mean Car Trouble?
Many times, it doesn’t really mean there’s a problem. It could simply be a sudden change in atmospheric conditions making a sensor act abnormally. It may come and go with different weather conditions. So if you’re not detecting any issues with how your car is operating, you may want to wait a day or two to see if the light goes back off.
Also, the check engine light will come on when your gas cap is loose. So that’s always a quick thing to check before worrying about other issues.
When Should I Take Action?
Your first clue is whether the light is blinking or not. If the light is blinking, this is letting you know of a major problem. This means get home or go to the auto shop right away. Depending on the issue, you may not be able to drive home before your car breaks down.
- Engine computer failure
- Fuel injector failure
- Ignition coil failure
- Bad spark plugs or wires
- Bad engine valves
Can I Wait to Bring My Car in?
As long as your Engine Light isn’t blinking, you’ll want to look for any noticeable changes in how your car functions. If your engine is running rough, it could be a variety of things triggering your warning light, including engine misfires, which could lead to damage. But unless your engine light is blinking you may have a lesser issue that just leaves your vehicle operating at less than optimal performance levels. This isn’t an emergency, but it does bear looking into.
- Faulty mass airflow sensor
- Faulty oxygen sensor
- Loose/faulty gas cap
- Faulty catalytic converter
For the most part, these issues will cause you to have poor fuel economy and performance, but you can still drive. However, you should still have the codes checked at a local auto shop to prevent serious repair costs in the future.
Beck’s Auto Center – Your Local Auto Shop in Lafayette, Indiana
Hopefully, we’ve eased your mind about that scary light on your dash. While it is unlikely signaling the need to call a tow truck, it is something that’s there for a reason and shouldn’t be ignored.