Auto Info

What Does the Check Engine Light Signify?

We have all had it happen, and it leaves us with an uneasy feeling. You were driving down the road when the check engine light illuminated on your vehicle’s dash. This light could mean anything from something as simple as a loose gas cap to an expensive problem like a catalytic converter needing to be replaced.

Either way, when that check engine light comes on you should make sure the problem is addressed. Otherwise, you might be setting yourself up to be stranded on the side of the road. Failing to address issues can lead to worse problems and the need for even more expensive repairs.

Getting Your Car’s Problems Diagnosed

The check engine light, which is known in the automotive world as the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL), illuminates when there is a signal from the computer serving your car’s engine indicating that there is something wrong. When this light comes on, you should take your car to an expert auto repair shop for proper diagnosis of the issue.

Since vehicle model year 1996, automakers have used a standardized system that is known as OBD-II, which offers standardized listing of diagnostic trouble codes for vehicles. All vehicles are mandated to provide a universal connector, so this kind of information can be easily accessed. Usually, the connector is located underneath your vehicle’s steering column where the code reader can easily be plugged in for a fast diagnosis.

Don’t Ignore the Check Engine Light

Many automotive experts say that drivers often confuse the “service required” light with the “check engine” light. These are two different lights on the gauge cluster that are not related. The service required light could indicate it is time for an oil change or it is time for routine maintenance. The check engine light, however, is an indicator of a problem. Many people still ignore the light because they are afraid of an expensive repair bill, but sometimes that makes problems worse and does increase the repair bill. Before a vehicle can pass a state vehicle inspection, the check engine light must be off. Usually, if that light is illuminated, the odds are the vehicle is consuming more fuel than usual or it is releasing more pollutants.

Take Your Vehicle To An Auto Repair Shop

You should take your vehicle to your auto repair shop as soon as possible after the check engine light comes on. It is relatively inexpensive to have your car’s problem diagnosed. The repair facility will connect your vehicle to the OBD-II system, which will reveal the codes that will determine what problem has illuminated the check engine light. Your trusted automotive repair technician will then tell you what needs to be repaired on your vehicle, what he or she recommends, and the cost related to fixing the problem. The repair shop technicians can also tell you if this issue could lead to worse problems and how those problems could affect your vehicle and your wallet.

Common Causes of Check Engine Lights Coming On

There are several reasons for check engine lights to come on. Lady Discussing with Mechanic It could be something as simple as a loose gas cap, depending on the vehicle make and model, or it could be something as serious as engine issues or a clogged catalytic converter. Regardless, you will need to know what the problem is if your light is illuminated. This means you should call your auto repair facility right away and schedule a time to bring in your vehicle for an engine diagnostics check. Usually, this process costs around $100 or so, depending on the time involved, the kind of vehicle you drive, and the issues that your vehicle is experiencing.

Sometimes a more in-depth check of the car might be required. Of course, more time involvement could lead to a higher cost. Your auto repair shop will be able to tell you how much the process will cost you when you take your car in for the inspection and diagnosis. When it comes to illuminated check engine lights on European and exotic cars in the Orange County area, including Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Laguna Hills, and Laguna Niguel, CA, you can rely on Mark Douglas Motorworks to diagnose and address the issue. Call us today to schedule service with our family owned and operated auto repair facility.