The check engine light can be one of the most frustrating warning lights on your dashboard. It can come on for a variety of reasons and sometimes it’s hard to know what the problem is. In this article, we’ll demystify the check engine light by discussing some common problems and fixes.
What is the check engine light?
The check engine light is a warning light that indicates there is a problem with your vehicle’s engine or emissions system. It’s often represented by an icon of an engine or the words “check engine” on your dashboard.
Common problems that trigger the check engine light
- Faulty oxygen sensor
- Loose or damaged gas cap
- Faulty catalytic converter
- Mass airflow sensor malfunction
- Spark plug or ignition coil problems
- Excessive carbon buildup in the engine
What to do when the check engine light comes on
If the check engine light comes on in your vehicle, the first thing you should do is check your owner’s manual. It may have specific instructions for your make and model. If not, here are some general steps to follow:
- Check your gas cap – make sure it’s tight and not damaged
- Check your dashboard gauges – if any are showing unusual readings, take note
- Look and listen for any other symptoms – such as strange noises or smells
- Check for diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) – you can purchase a code reader or take your vehicle to a mechanic to have it checked
Fixes for common check engine light problems
Once you have identified the problem, you can take steps to fix it. Here are some common fixes for check engine light problems:
Faulty oxygen sensor
The oxygen sensor measures how much oxygen is in the exhaust gases leaving the engine. If it’s faulty, it can cause your vehicle to run poorly and reduce fuel efficiency. The fix is to replace the oxygen sensor.
Loose or damaged gas cap
A loose or damaged gas cap can cause fuel vapors to leak out of your vehicle, which can trigger the check engine light. The fix is to tighten or replace the gas cap.
Faulty catalytic converter
The catalytic converter is responsible for reducing emissions from your vehicle. If it’s faulty, it can cause the check engine light to come on. The fix is to replace the catalytic converter.
Mass airflow sensor malfunction
The mass airflow sensor measures the amount of air entering the engine. If it’s malfunctioning, it can cause your vehicle to run poorly and reduce fuel efficiency. The fix is to clean or replace the mass airflow sensor.
Spark plug or ignition coil problems
Spark plugs and ignition coils are responsible for igniting the fuel in your engine. If they’re faulty, it can cause your vehicle to misfire and reduce fuel efficiency. The fix is to replace the spark plugs or ignition coils.
Excessive carbon buildup in the engine
Over time, carbon can build up in your engine, causing it to run poorly and trigger the check engine light. The fix is to have your engine cleaned by a professional.
The check engine light can be a frustrating warning light, but it’s important to take it seriously. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can identify and fix common problems that trigger the check engine light. If you’re unsure about any of the steps, it’s always best to take your vehicle to a mechanic for a professional diagnosis.