What To Do if Your Check Engine Light Comes On

maintminderModern cars are equipped with a range of diagnostic monitors to check the safety and mechanical soundness of the vehicle. Whenever those monitors discover a problem, they turn on a warning light to alert the driver.

One of the most important warning lights on your car is the check engine light. This light is designed to alert drivers to a number of potential problems, from issues with the emission system to problems with the engine itself.

Seeing your check engine light come on does not automatically mean your engine is in trouble or you are facing a big repair bill. The monitoring system responsible for this warning light is sensitive, and sometimes even a minor problem can set it off. If you are driving and see your check engine light come on, you should take the following steps.

#1. Pull Off the Road and Turn the Car Off

Wait until you are in a safe location with a wide shoulder, then slowly pull the car off the road and shut it off. Restart the vehicle and watch the warning lights closely. If the check engine light does not come on, you should be able to continue driving while checking the dashboard periodically.

Sometimes a temporary glitch or issue with the fuel will turn the check engine light on. Shutting the engine off and turning it back on can reset the system and turn the light off.

#2. Consult Your Owner’s Manual

If the check engine light is still on, turn the engine off and consult the owner’s manual for your vehicle. The manual should provide additional information and instructions on what to do.

Many cars will illuminate the check engine light and cause it to blink if a serious engine problem has been detected. If the light is blinking, your best bet is to call for roadside assistance and have the vehicle towed to the dealership or authorized repair facility.

#3. Think About the Last Time You Got Gas

check-engineOne of the things the check engine light monitors is the health of the emission and fuel system. If you fueled up just before the light went on, there could be a problem with the gas.

Even a small amount of moisture in the fuel could be enough to illuminate the check engine light. If you suspect the fuel is to blame, contact the gas station where you fueled up to see if any other problems have been reported. If the car appears to be running fine, you can continue to drive it. Sometimes running some of the fuel out and refilling the tank will restore proper emissions and turn the check engine light off.

#4. Make an Appointment with Your Mechanic

If the check engine light is still on after refilling the tank, you will want to make an appointment with your mechanic. The mechanic can run diagnostic tests and check the car’s computer to pinpoint the problem and fix the issue.

Even if your car is running fine, it will probably not pass the annual emissions test if the check engine light is on. Fixing the problem now will give you peace of mind and help ensure the emissions system is running properly.

Your car includes a number of safety feature and diagnostic checks designed to make sure your vehicle is running properly and your safety is not compromised. If any of your warning lights are illuminated, it is important to consult your manual and get to the root of the problem as soon as possible.