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How Do You Know What To Do When The “Check Engine” Light Comes On?

When drivers see the “Check Engine” light start to glow in the instrument panel on their dash, they start to feel anxious and fearful. This is caused by the uncertainty of what is happening to their car and the many reasons that could make this little light illuminate. Their biggest fear is that a major engine repair will be needed, which could cost in the thousands of dollars.

Just remember that the ”check engine” sensor is part of your vehicle’s on-board diagnostic system, constantly monitoring engine performance, such as engine speed (RPMs), air to fuel ratio, and ignition timing. If a “fault” within the system is detected, the “check engine” light will light up.

Some drivers wonder if they can continue to drive with that little light illuminated. You can be at ease! Most mechanics will tell you that the majority of times the “check engine” light comes on is a relatively simple and inexpensive fix. Unless the engine is overheating, you can usually continue on to your destination. But then try to schedule an appointment at your auto shop as soon as possible so that a diagnostic test can be performed to pinpoint the cause.

Here’s what to do when the “check engine” lights comes on:

  • Check the gauges on your dashboard – If one of them has an abnormal reading, pull over and shut off the engine immediately.
  • Try tightening or replacing your gas cap –  A loose gas cap can trigger a sensor causing the “check engine” light to illuminate.
  • Notice a reduction in engine performance – If you notice that your vehicle’s performance has decreased, reduce your speed and avoid towing or transporting heavy cargo.
  • Wait to schedule an emission test – It’s highly likely your vehicle will fail the emissions test. Wait until you have your car checked out and repaired.
  • Schedule an inspection of your vehicle – Is the “check engine” constant or flashing? A solid glow indicates your vehicle should be inspected at your earliest convenience. A blinking light means that your vehicle needs immediate attention.

Need to know what to do when the check engine light comes on? Contact our ASE Certified technicians at Dependable Car Care for more information about engine repair and to schedule an appointment. Our auto shop proudly serves residents in the community of Ventura, CA, and surrounding area.