Every “Check Engine” light comes with a degree of anxiety. The problem could be as minor as a loosened gas cap, or as major as a faulty catalytic converter. When that light comes on, don’t take chances—take your car to a State College auto service center.
What is the “Check Engine” Light, and How Can I Figure Out What’s Wrong?
Its formal name is the MIL, or malfunction indicator lamp. The light comes on when the car’s ECU (electronic control unit) senses a problem. Your service center will diagnose the trouble for less than $100 in most cases, but you can get an idea of the possible problem for much less.
If your car was made in 1996 or later, look under its steering column for an OBD-II dock connector. Buy a code reader, or find an auto parts store that offers free testing. With the results of the diagnostic test, you can figure out what is wrong with your vehicle. Your car’s malfunction indicator light may be amber, yellow or orange—if it starts flashing, the problem may be more serious.
Don’t Ignore the “Check Engine” Light….
Whether your car’s indicator light is flashing or steady, you should not ignore it. However, many people do. If you live in a state requiring periodic inspections, that’s a good reason to take your car to a State College auto service shop. If your light is turned on, it’s probably using too much fuel or releasing too much pollution into the air.
….But Don’t Rely on it, Either
Even if you run a successful diagnostic test, the interpretation can be tricky. Occasionally, an indicator light can come on even if there is no problem with the vehicle. The most common reasons for a “Check Engine” light are:
* A faulty oxygen sensor
* A failing catalytic converter
* Worn or brittle spark plug wires
* A failing mass air flow sensor
There are many reasons why your car’s “Check Engine” light may come on, and some are more serious than others are. If you are not mechanically inclined, or cannot access an OBD code reader, take your vehicle to a State College auto service shop for further diagnostic tests.