What To Do About a Check Engine Light

A check engine light is your first warning sign that there’s an issue with your vehicle. Without proper care, a minor issue could quickly become a major fix. Whether there’s a clog in your catalytic converter, major engine trouble or something as simple as a loose gas cap, here are some easy steps to take when your check engine light illuminates.

Observe Other Warning Lights

First, look at your dashboard for signs of other warning lights. The check engine light is a general warning that could include a wide range of issues. Look for low oil pressure, high temperature, battery alert or other warning lights.

These specific lights assist you in identifying the cause of the warning. A check engine light may mean that your vehicle is experiencing engine troubles, but it could also be a sign of a more minor issue with your battery, electrical system or exhaust system.

Look for Easy Fixes

There are some issues that alert your warning light that aren’t cause for concern. If your check engine light is illuminated, here are some easy fixes to check first before looking for more serious repair procedures:

  • Loose gas cap
  • Failed oxygen sensor
  • Low battery charge
  • Loose wiring

Newer vehicles include a sensor to ensure your fuel system is properly sealed. A loss of pressure in this system could be a sign of a leak in your fuel tank, so it alerts a warning light. A loose gas cap also prevents a sealed system, so be sure to tighten your gas cap and see if this solves the issue.

Oxygen sensors monitor the air intake and emission of your vehicle for signs of improper air/fuel mixture. If the sensor itself or the wiring is damaged, it can trip the warning light. This affordable component and repair service can be performed in your home garage or at a local auto shop.

Be sure to get your battery tested to see if it’s charging properly. A dead battery may not prevent your vehicle from driving, but it will prevent you from starting your vehicle once you turn it off. Have your battery inspected to see if there’s a problem with your alternator or the battery itself.

Drive Carefully

When you first experience an illuminated check engine light, don’t panic. Drive carefully and pull off the road when it is safe to do so. If there aren’t any issues with the performance of your vehicle, particularly if the engine light is yellow rather than red, you probably don’t need to stop your vehicle immediately. Any engine issues, smoke or a red illuminated check engine light require immediate attention.

Check the DTC Code

Use an OBD-II scanner to check the DTC code to learn more about your check engine light. Stop by a local auto shop store to have your DTC code read or pick up an engine code reader. An engine code reader allows you to receive more detailed information about your warning signal. A local auto shop technician can assist you with reading the DTC code and understanding the necessary repair parts to purchase to restore your vehicle.