Common Reasons for a Lit Check Engine Light

Every now and then we each fall victim to that unexpected and “couldn't come at a worse time” check engine light. The on-board diagnostic system and engine control unit in your car is responsible for monitoring many aspects of your cars performance and is extremely sensitive to small, sub-optimal changes and thus becoming illuminated for a variety of issues that range from a loose gas cap to a faulty fuel injector. The safest and most reliable thing to do when the light comes on is to visit an auto repair shop for diagnostic testing.

Typically, a check engine light that is constant and not blinking is an indication of a problem that is not urgent, but should be tended to in a timely fashion. A light that is blinking is an indication of an urgent issue that requires your immediate attention because it is physically damaging the car.

Here are some of the most common issues associated with a lit check engine light:

1. Loose or broken gas cap
This allows fuel vapors to escape, leaving you with less gas mileage, emissions and a fuel system that is out of whack. Check that it is tightly sealed and not broken.

2. Spark plugs and wires that need to be replaced.
The longevity of spark plugs depends on your car and can vary from every 25,000 to 100,000 miles, before they need to be replaced. (Refer to your owner’s manual for the appropriate range and type required for your car). Failing to replace them can cause your car to idle, fail to start, your engine to misfire (causing the car to stop), to consume more fuel, etc. This is a fix that you can attempt on your own.

3. Mass airflow sensor needs to be replaced.
A mass airflow sensor will fail when the air filter is installed poorly, or the air filter was never replaced. If you fail to change the air filter in your car at least once a year, it can result in less gas mileage and a stalling car in the long run.

4.The oxygen sensor needs to be replaced.
Oxygen sensors become covered in oil ash over time, reducing their ability to adjust the fuel mixture that is sent to the engine. This will increase gas emissions, decrease gas mileage and could eventually result in a broken catalytic converter (a much more costly fix). This is also a job that the owner can attempt on their own with the help of the owner’s manual.

5. The catalytic converter needs to be replaced.
As previously noted, other items on this list could cause the eventual need for replacement of your catalytic converter if they are left unchecked. When your catalytic converter stops working, it will stop converting harmful substances into less harmful ones, it will make you unable to accelerate the car and it will decrease your gas mileage. This is a very costly fix (~$2,000) that can be avoided with regular maintenance.

If your check engine light comes on, you can be sure that our experts here at Mighty Discount Automotive in Centereach, 11720 will provide you with quality service for all your auto repair needs. Contact us today or schedule an appointment online!