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.
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
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.
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.