Why Is My Check Engine Light On?

When your check engine light comes on it’s easy to assume the worst. Thoughts of expensive repairs and the hassle of life without your vehicle pop into your head. There are many potential issues that can cause the light to come on, so it’s important to get your car looked at by a technician as soon as possible even if it seems to be running normally. Taking care of the issue causing a check engine light quickly can save your car and wallet by preventing more serious damage occurring from an unaddressed problem.  At Matson Point S Tire and Auto, we can diagnose your check engine light and address the underlying issue, getting you back on the road.

check-engine-light-on-dash

What is the purpose of a check engine light?

The check engine light is a warning light on your dash that comes on when there is a problem with your vehicle. The light is triggered when your vehicle’s ECU (engine control unit) detects a malfunction within the various systems it oversees. There are a wide variety of reasons why the light can come on, ranging from something as simple as a loose gas cap to more serious issues like engine misfires and emissions problems.

How is a check engine light used to find an issue?

In order to determine the exact cause of the problem, the code causing the check engine light needs to be read from the ECU by a technician. Each code corresponds with a specific fault in the system that can be used to determine the exact issue. Based on the code, your technician will be able to tell you the likely reason the light came on. Read on to learn about some of the most common issues that trigger a check engine light.

Common causes of a check engine light

There are many different reasons a check engine light can come on, but the circumstances in this list are fairly common issues that may be causing it.

  • Catalytic converter and oxygen sensors

One common cause of a check engine light can be related to your vehicle’s catalytic converter and oxygen sensors. The catalytic converter is a device in the exhaust which is responsible for reducing the amount of toxic emissions from the engine. When the catalytic converter is not functioning properly (which could be caused by a clog), you can experience a check engine light

Failed oxygen sensors before and after the catalytic converter can also cause trigger a fault

dual-catalytic-converters-on-car
Damaged or faulty catalytic converters can cause a check engine light.
  • Fuel cap

A loose, damaged, or missing fuel cap can cause a fault by triggering an evaporative emissions control code. The EVAP system in your car is designed to prevent gasoline fumes from escaping, which are harmful to the environment. If the check engine light comes on in your car, checking the tightness of the gas cap and look checking the seal is a quick way to determine if this is the problem.

vehicle-gas-cap-CEL
A loose gas cap can cause a check engine light.
  • Mass airflow sensor

Another potential cause of a check engine light is a faulty or failed mass airflow sensor. The mass airflow sensor is responsible for monitoring the intake of air into the engine, which the ECU uses to determine the correct amount of fuel. When the mass airflow sensor is not functioning correctly, the engine will not run as it should, and the light may come on.

Blinking check engine light

If your check engine light is blinking, this is an indicator an active malfunction which is a much more serious issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. A blinking light could indicate a misfire, which can cause severe damage to your vehicle’s engine. If you encounter a blinking check engine light, pull over and do not continue driving until a technician look at it.

Addressing a check engine light

While these are some of the more common causes of a check engine light, there is no way to know for certain without a service technician interpreting the fault codes. Remember, ignoring the light and continuing to drive has the potential to damage your vehicle, leading to much more costly repairs.

Come visit Matson Point S Auto and Tire or schedule an appointment to let us diagnose your check engine light. Our skilled and friendly technicians will ensure your car is running as it should.

When Is It Time for an Alignment

 

When you’re driving, there is nothing more annoying than having to fight against a steering wheel that is pulling you out of your lane.  Alignment of your vehicle can take care of this problem, but how do you know when it is time for an adjustment before your issue gets dangerous or costs you money? Follow the guidelines in this article, and you will know when it is time for alignment and what an alignment does for you.

When Is It Time for an Alignment?

There are several times when you should consider alignment.  This includes when suspension parts are replaced, when excessive tire wear is noticed, new tires are installed, after you have driven over excessive rough conditions, after an accident or impact with a curb at speed and as part of an annual maintenance plan.

Why Should You Care About the Alignment of Your Car?

The proper alignment of the car does several things. First of all, it is easier to drive a vehicle that you are not struggling to steer and control. Steering can get so bad that driving a car out of alignment can even become dangerous.  A properly aligned vehicle can also save you money by prolonging the life of your tires and reduced fuel consumption.  Studies have shown up to a 10% reduction in fuel economy with a vehicle that is out of alignment.

Should I Get My Car Aligned Every Year?

The recommended timeframe to get tires aligned is once per year.  Owner’s manuals on most cars recommend at least aligning your vehicle every year.  However, there are times when you should align your vehicle regardless of if it has been a year or not since your last alignment. You might think about getting an alignment if you have been in an accident or if you are consistently driving in harsh or rough road conditions. You may also want to consider getting an alignment if you get new tires or suspension parts installed, or if you drive harshly (hit a curb, a pothole, or other severe road condition). The following sections of the article will give you details to use about when are smart times to align your car. We will also give you the reasons why you should think about aligning your vehicle and how to look for the signs that your vehicle might need an alignment.

Should You Align Your Tires After New Suspension Is Installed?

Yes, alignment is vital after getting new suspension parts installed on your car.  In the process of installing new suspension parts, your alignment can become outside of specification due to the removal of various components.  If you do not align your vehicle after a new part in your suspension is installed, it may cause quicker wear and tear on the newly replaced parts and your tires.

Should You Align Your Tires After New Tires Are Installed?

Although it is not necessarily required for you to have your car aligned when you install new tires, it is recommended. It is recommended after new tires are installed because it ensures that your vehicle is within manufacturers specifications to ensure the longest life possible on your new tires.  Tires are a significant investment in your vehicle and anything we can due to extend their life will keep more money in your pocket.

Irregular Tire Wear and Getting an Alignment

If you notice irregular tire wear, especially if you are seeing inner tire edge wear that may be an indication that your car is due for an alignment.  Irregular tire wear can be caused due to lack of tire rotations, improper tire pressure, out of balance tires, or worn suspension components.  It is usually best if you notice irregular wear to schedule a time where we can perform an alignment check and inspection.  This will help us determine the root cause of the tire wear and help you address it before you completely wear through your tires.

Should You Align Your Car After Driving in Rough Road Conditions?

Rough road conditions including washed-out roads, potholes, roads under construction, or other harsh and jarring conditions wreak havoc on your suspension. These conditions can result in the adjustment bolts to move over time and cause your vehicle to become out of alignment.  Consistent driving on poor road surfaces, such as gravel roads, can also put your vehicle out of alignment.  If you notice the steering wheel off-center or the vehicle pulling to one side or the other that is a good indication it is time to get your vehicle scheduled in for an alignment.

Should You Align Your Car After Being in An Accident?

Any car in an accident should consider an alignment. This is especially true if there is damage to the front end of the vehicle or any wheel impacts.  After an accident, come in to Matson Point S Tire & Auto Repair and we can do an alignment check for you.  At this time we would also inspect all of your suspension components to ensure that there is no damage that may make the vehicle unsafe to drive.  If you are not able to drive your car directly following the accident, we are more than happy to arrange a tow for you.

Wheel Alignment Terminology

When you go in for an alignment you might hear some different terms used to describe the direction that the wheels are pointing.  The primary terms to understand are camber, caster and toe.  There are variations of these terms that help your alignment technician describe what is going on with your car.

alignment terminology

Toe-In Vs. Toe-Out Alignment

When looking down the front of your tires, toe position determines how much the tire front is angled in or out. Toe-in means that the front of the tires when looking down the front of the car are facing each other. Toe-out means that the alignment of the tires when looking at them straight on is pointed away from each other.  Typically, when your steering wheel is off-center it is a result of the vehicle toe.

Negative Vs. Positive Camber

The tilt of the wheels can help with handling and speed around turns. Positive camber is when the wheels when looking at the car head-on are tilted out. Negative camber is when the tilt of the wheels when looking at the car head-on is titled in towards the body of the car.  The most common thing you will feel with a vehicle with out of spec camber is a pulling of the vehicle to one side or the other.

Negative Vs. Positive Caster

The caster angle and determines the wheels pivot point. Caster angle determines where the front of the wheel will come in contact with the road. Positive-caster means that the front of the tire is coming in contact with the road first. Negative-caster is further back on the wheel where contact with the road is made. A Neutral-caster is directly in the center of the wheel where the road meets the rubber.  An out of adjustment caster can make the car either feel too twitchy with too much negative caster and floaty with too much positive caster.

Conclusion

Alignment of your vehicle can not only save you from dangerous driving dynamics that make it more difficult to keep you in control of your car, but it can also save you money in the long run. Hopefully this article provided some information to help you understand what an alignment is, why you need one and when you should get one performed.  Our highly trained technicians at Matson Point S will be able to diagnose whether or not the vehicle is in need of alignment. If you suspect you may have an alignment issue don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule an appointment to have your car looked at.

Our COVID-19 Safety Precautions

 

As we head into these uncertain times, the staff at Matson Point S Tire & Auto Repair is taking extra precautions to ensure that our client’s health and well being is our primary concern.

Our shop has always been one of the cleanest in the industry and until the the threat of the virus diminishes, we are taking new measures to ensure our customers and employees safety.

We are adopting new procedures that start with screening employees each morning prior to work to ensure they are healthy, anyone with symptoms will be sent home immediately and are to contact their physician.

We have sanitized our shop and will sanitize any touch points we may have on a client’s vehicle, this includes keys, steering wheels, switches, controls and handles. Our technicians and advisor staff will follow CDC Guidelines and will wear gloves not only to protect their hands but your vehicle as well, and have been instructed to sanitize their work areas, the shop restrooms, shop door handles, service counters, credit card equipment and of course their hands throughout the day.

Although we are confident our waiting area is clean, we would like to encourage our clients to leave their vehicles and not wait for them. Please take advantage of our free shuttle service in the Salt Lake area, as well as our loaner cars. If needed we can also pick-up and deliver your vehicle from your home or workplace.

As essential supplies in supermarkets dwindle, there is also growing concern in the auto industry that parts sourced from China and other areas may be in short supply as well. If you are contemplating essential repairs on your vehicle it might make sense to schedule them sooner than later. Or have us order the required parts for you and we will hold them until you are ready to come in.

Exclusive $75 Nokian Tires Rebate

We are excited to announce an exclusive tire rebate for our customers.  Save up to $75 on a set of four Nokian tires including the workhorse Nokian Rotiiva truck tires, the fuel saving Nokian eNtyre 2.0 and the sporty Nokian zLine.  Contact us today to save some serious cash on your next tire purchase at service@matsonauto.com or (801) 566-6115.

Or you can research your tire options for your vehicle here.