Understanding What the Car Engine Light Means and What to Do

Understanding What the Car Engine Light Means and What to Do

You are happily cruising along in your car, getting back home after having spent a great weekend away. You casually notice the car engine light has come to life and the great feeling of well-being sinks and is replaced by a miserable one!

Expenses ahead?

car engine lightYour car engine check light is part of the electronic on-board diagnostic system telling you that all is not well with the car. The yellow warning light is turned on by the car’s computer when the system cannot rectify a problem it has detected.

Per most manuals, there are five common glitches that usually turn on the car’s check engine light, which could be quite simple for you to fix.

Mobile mechanics inspect check engine light

  1. oxygen sensorFaulty sensor: A faulty oxygen sensor will not provide correct data to the system and can cause a fall in the mileage and also increase emissions. As cars have two to four sensors, the code that the scanner provides you could tell you which one is faulty and needs to be replaced.
    The sensor may have become faulty due to oil ash that has covered it over a period of time. This decreases the sensor’s capability to change the mixture of oil and oxygen. It is quite simple to change an oxygen sensor if you know where to find it- the owner’s manual will come in handy. All you need to do is unclip the old sensor and clip on the new one in its place. A visit to your car mechanic could cost you about $200. Either way, the problem needs immediate attention.
  2. Faulty/loose gas cap: It is difficult to imagine a faulty gas cap as a cause of great worry, but it is! It upsets the whole fuel system due to leak of fuel vapor. What you can do is check if the cap is closed tight. If it is, great, but then check for any cracks on it. You can replace it with a new cap for as low as $3 and you can surely do this yourself. This fault may not be a huge threat, but taking care of it right away will help improve your car’s mileage.
  3. Spark plugSpark plugs/wires: If it is the spark plug that is faulty, and it misfires, you would feel your car jerk in the acceleration. Today’s spark plugs last close to 100,000 miles, but sometimes they fail over a short period of time leaving you frustrated.If this happens, replace the spark plugs right away. The spark plugs are easily accessible under the hood and you can replace them yourself. Just make sure they are not too hot when you use the plug spanner, or you could end up with burnt fingers!
  4. Mass air flow sensor: A faulty mass airflow sensor increases emissions besides decreasing mileage and causing the car to stall. This fault occurs because the mass air sensor is too old or is not installed properly. Depending on the make and model of the car, a new sensor could cost anything between $200 and $300. You could replace this yourself too.
  5. catalytic converterCatalytic converter: The catalytic converter’s function is to reduce the exhaust gasses. If your car engine light code suggests the catalytic converter as the problem, you would probably have noticed that your car does not go faster when you push on the throttle, as well as a reduced mileage.If this happens, it is time to replace the catalytic converter. A new piece could cost you nearly $2000 and it is best for you to let your mechanic replace it- unless of course you are an expert yourself!

These are the commonest of factors triggering the car engine check light to come on, but they are not all. At times it would turn on even when nothing is apparently wrong with the car- it could only be a momentary issue caused by humidity or such other factors.

To have your vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic, contact your local Otobots today!

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