We’ve all been there: you get into your car to leave for work, and the check engine light illuminates. Whether your light is red, orange, or yellow, it usually precedes an episode of worry, anxiety, or impatience.
What Is a Check Engine Light?
The check engine light, often known as the malfunction indicator lamp, is an indication from the engine computer that something is wrong with your vehicle. It’s your car’s way of alerting you when anything is wrong while it’s running.
What Does Your Check Engine Light Mean?
Your engine control unit monitors the functioning of your engine as well as other related components that keep your vehicle operating within specific pollution requirements. When this computer collects data that is not normal, it stores a specific fault code that corresponds to the problem. The check engine light illuminates to notify the driver that this has occurred.
In most cars, an illuminated check engine light suggests that something should be done right away because the condition could be harmful, but a steady light indicates that an issue should be checked shortly.
What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?
There are few things more terrifying and unpleasant than seeing your car’s check engine light on. Many drivers have been perplexed since the introduction of check engine lights in 1996. This is owing to the vast range of problems that the light could be suggesting.
Unfortunately, driving about hoping and praying for the light to turn off will not help you or your vehicle. If your check engine light has recently illuminated, your car could be experiencing one of two types of issues.
Fuel System Issues
Faulty gas cap – Your car is pretty adept at alerting you to potential problems. Something as simple as failing to replace the gas cap could set off your “check engine” light. This is due to the gas cap preventing vapors from escaping the fuel tank. A faulty gas cap can significantly impair fuel efficiency and increase pollutants.
MAF sensor – Mass airflow sensors are a typical component failure in cars. A MAF sensor is located near the engine and measures the amount of oxygen and gasoline that is introduced into the engine. The engine requires a particular amount of oxygen to run efficiently and safely. When the MAF sensor fails, your vehicle no longer reads these critical values. This is an easy remedy that simply necessitates a fast replacement.
Faulty ignition – As the fuel travels through the engine’s cylinders, spark plugs ignite it. Failure to replace a spark plug may result in catalytic converter failure or other catastrophic issues.
Catalytic converter – The catalytic converter reduces the toxicity of poisonous gases produced by your car. If your catalytic converter fails, you and the environment are at risk of high levels of carbon monoxide and other dangerous pollutants.
O2 sensor – The combustion process necessitates a careful balance of chemical gases. The O2 sensor continuously checks these gases to ensure that the proper amount of oxygen is present. When the O2 sensor malfunctions, the vehicle cannot function properly. This substantially affects fuel economy and may result in thousands of dollars in damage. Replacing your O2 sensor as soon as you notice a problem will save you time and money on unnecessary repairs.