Four rea­sons for a check en­gine light

The Calvert Recorder - Southern Maryland Automotive Trends - - News -

Ve­hi­cles rely on many com­po­nents work­ing har­mo­niously to func­tion at op­ti­mal ca­pac­ity. Any num­ber of sys­tems can go wrong, and of­ten­times the first in­di­ca­tion that some­thing has gone awry is an il­lu­mi­nated dash­board sig­nal.

One such sig­nal is the “check en­gine” light. Many driv­ers have lit­tle idea what to do when this in­di­ca­tor lights up, and this light can cause some anx­i­ety. Ac­cord­ing to Con­sumer Re­ports, a check en­gine light turn­ing on does not usu­ally re­quire im­me­di­ate ac­tion. How­ever, it does mean that you should make an ap­point­ment to have the ve­hi­cle in­spected for po­ten­tial prob­lems.

Check en­gine lights are part of a car’s on­board di­ag­nos­tics. The light turn­ing on may in­di­cate some­thing mi­nor, such as a loose fuel cap, or some­thing more se­ri­ous like a mis­fir­ing en­gine. When the light turns on, driv­ers won­der­ing why may want to see if the an­swer is re­lated to one of the fol­low­ing is­sues.

1. Loose gas cap: Fuel va­pors can leak out and air can get in when the fuel cap isn’t se­cured cor­rectly. This can com­pro­mise the fuel sys­tem and make the check en­gine light come on. Take off the cap and then re­seal it to see if that al­le­vi­ates the prob­lem. Cracked caps will need to be re­placed.

2. Dirty oxy­gen sen­sor: A faulty or clogged sen­sor may not pro­vide the right in­for­ma­tion about un­burned oxy­gen from the ve­hi­cle’s ex­haust. This sen­sor mon­i­tors how much fuel is burned. Com­pro­mised data can cause a de­crease in fuel ef­fi­ciency. Some do-it-your­selfers can re­place an oxy­gen sen­sor on their own, but those who can’t should have the is­sue ad­dressed im­me­di­ately by a pro­fes­sional.

3. Too much speed or load: Tow­ing a trailer or an­other heavy item may put strain on the ve­hi­cle and cause the light to come on be­cause of loss of power. Light­en­ing the load and re­duc­ing speed can help fix the prob­lem. Al­ways con­sult with the owner’s man­ual to de­ter­mine the tow­ing ca­pac­ity of your ve­hi­cle.

4. Short or faulty code: Com­put­ers aren’t al­ways fool­proof, and some­times an elec­tri­cal short or an­other sim­i­lar prob­lem can cause a light to come on. Bring the ve­hi­cle to an au­to­mo­tive sup­ply store. Such stores typ­i­cally have di­ag­nos­tics tools that can be hooked into the car’s com­puter and pro­vide a more de­tailed un­der­stand­ing of what is trig­ger­ing the check en­gine in­di­ca­tor.

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