If you’re like most people, your heart sinks when your check engine light comes on. This ominous warning can mean something as simple as a loose gas cap, or as serious as a failed catalytic converter.
The check engine light is part of a vehicle’s onboard diagnostics system, or the OBD. The OBD monitors and regulates vehicle performance, and when it finds a problem that your engine’s computers can’t fix, a warning light comes on.
Here are the top five reasons :
Catalytic Converter Issues. The catalytic converter reduces emissions from your vehicle’s exhaust, helping to reduce pollution. Its failure can make your engine stall, perform poorly, or not start at all. You also may fail an emissions test during your annual inspection.
Faulty Spark Plugs. Your spark plugs literally provide the spark that makes your engine go. When the spark plugs or the spark plug wires are faulty, you can end up with damage to your catalytic converter, ignition coils, or your oxygen sensor.
Timing Solenoid Failure. A variable valve timing solenoid is part of the timing system on your vehicle. As it goes bad, your engine’s performance and fuel efficiency will be markedly worse.
Evaporative System Leaks. The Evaporative Emission Control System (EVAP) captures gasoline fumes as they evaporate, and turns them back into usable fuel. The most common leak in this system is a loose gas cap. Other problems could be a leak in a hose, valve, or a even a leak in your fuel tank.
Fuel Mixture is Lean or Rich. To work at maximum efficiency, your vehicle needs a ratio of 14.7:1. That means that for every gram of fuel, there should be 14.7 grams of air. If there is too much fuel in the ratio, the engine is said to be running rich. On the other hand, an engine that is running lean has a mixture with too much air. Either of these will trigger the check engine light.
Here’s the most important part: If your light is on, it’s time to troubleshoot a bit. First, tighten your gas cap. Second, look at your gauges to see if your engine is overheating or you have low oil pressure. If either of these are true, you need to stop as soon as it’s safe and have your car towed to us.
If your check engine light is blinking, you need to pull over safely, and arrange to have your car brought to us. Especially in newer vehicles, driving a car with a blinking check engine light can lead to very costly repairs.
Whatever the reason for your check engine light being on, we can help diagnose the issue, and then repair it. Especially at the holiday season, we want you and your family to be safe, and for your vehicle to get you over the river and through the woods in time for pumpkin pie!