The “check engine light” is programmed to turn on when your vehicle detects something isn’t working properly. It is a very handy function, but can also lead to stress over worrying about what specific problem it is identifying. Also, if your car appears to be working correctly despite the check engine light being on, it can be easy to simply ignore it. Having a basic knowledge of what might cause your check engine light to turn on will make you more likely to respond properly when it lights up.
Reasons Your Check Engine Light May Be On
While there are many different reasons that your check engine light could turn on, there are several frequent problems that might be the culprit. We’ll address just a handful of these so you’ll have a better idea of what to consider when you see the light come on.
Gas Cap is Loose, Missing, or Damaged
This is a pretty easy thing to look for if your check engine light has turned on. Your car will run fine with a gas cap problem but it can allow gasoline to leak from your gas tank. Depending on the specific gas cap issue, these leaks can be relatively small or rather large. There are also other issues that can be found in your gas tank recirculation system so even if you don’t see a problem with the gas cap, there might be another underlying issue. Ignoring these problems will cause increased gas evaporation which means you’ll need to fill up more regularly. It is in your financial interest to fix these issues as soon as they appear.
Failing Oxygen Sensors
The oxygen sensor in your car measures the unburned oxygen in the exhaust system. The area that houses the oxygen sensor can get to 800 degrees or more which puts a lot of stress on the system. They commonly need to be worked on or replaced. Sometimes the engine code is identifying a problem but does not necessarily mean the oxygen sensors need to be replaced. If you ignore problems with your oxygen sensor, your engine will burn more fuel than necessary and you will lose fuel economy. A faulty oxygen sensor also has the potential to damage your vehicle’s spark plugs or catalytic converter.
Catalytic Converter Failure
Your vehicle’s catalytic converter is a crucial component of the exhaust system that turns carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. It is a very simple but important part of any vehicle and one that you should keep an eye on as failures can easily be avoided. A new catalytic converter can run you several hundred dollars so it’s best to keep your current one in good condition than have to replace it. Regular maintenance such as oil changes and emissions repair are the best time to also make sure your catalytic converter is in working order.
In general this is going to be an obvious problem even without the help of the check engine light. Your vehicle’s ignition system includes the spark plugs, coil packs, and everything else needed to ignite the air/fuel mixture inside the engine. If you are experiencing frequent misfires when attempting to start your vehicle, there is almost certainly an issue with one of these parts that needs to be addressed.
Bradley’s Auto Can Diagnose Check Engine Light Issues
If your check engine light turns on, don’t ignore it. Call or contact Bradley’s Auto Service in Red Bank. New Jersey today to schedule a diagnostic to pinpoint the problem. Our ASE certified mechanics have built a reputation for providing honest, professional auto services.