Five Common Reasons the Check Engine Light is Triggered
The check engine light on your vehicle is supposed to alert you to potential problems with the vehicle. The check engine light is part of your vehicle’s onboard diagnostics (OBD) system, and is telling you the car needs attention. While sometimes, check engine lights will come on because there’s a loose wire connected to the sensor, most of the time, it means you need to have a mechanic check your vehicle. In an automotive repair shop, they have an expensive, in-depth reader that will decipher the trouble code from the vehicle. From 1996 forward, car manufacturers use a standardized system of trouble codes for diagnostic purposes.
While you can buy an inexpensive code reader, all it’s going to give you is the code itself. It will not tell you what the diagnostics code means. It doesn’t work while the vehicle is being driven either, which is a function of an expensive reader that mechanics can access. There are a few common diagnostics codes that often pop up when the car is placed on a code reader. You can purchase an inexpensive code reader, but you’ll have to look the numbers up online to find out what they mean. They’re not normally repairs and fixes that a layperson can make themselves either.
Oxygen, Mass Airflow Sensors and Catalytic Converter
Two of the sensors, oxygen and mass airflow, can cause the check engine light to be visible on the dashboard. There are a few oxygen sensors on the vehicle that measure the amount of oxygen in the car’s exhaust. If you ignore the check engine light, it could lead to problems with the catalytic converter later. The mass airflow sensor can cause a problem with increased emissions and stalling. These sensors relate back to the catalytic converter, which is another reason that the check engine light can be triggered.
Spark Plugs and Wires
Check engine lights that are triggered by the spark plugs and wires can be avoided by bringing the car in for a tune up every 20,000 miles. While you can do the tune up yourself on some older cars, if the check engine light is on, you should bring the car to a mechanic. Spark plugs, wires, combustion chamber and ignition coils work together to spark the engine into life. When they’re not working in conjunction, you can experience reduced fuel economy and a clogged catalytic converter.
One of the easiest fixes for check engine lights is to check the gas cap. When the gas cap isn’t secured tightly, it throws off the pressure inside the gas tank. This can set off the diagnostic system because the sensor thinks it might be related to the emissions system. The first thing you can do after the check engine light is triggered is to tighten the cap. If the light is still on after a few days, bring it to the garage to be fixed by a mechanic.
Check engine lights should be diagnosed with the use of an expensive code reader that mechanics have available in their shop. It saves on time and annoyances when the garage can read the code and repair the vehicle immediately. Is your check engine light on? Contact us now to get your car serviced.