How to Find Out What the “Check Engine” Light Means!

You are driving along and all of a sudden you notice a dashboard light come on.  It is the dreaded “Check Engine” light!  What should you do?  It is important to understand what the check engine light means and what to do about it. You want to make sure that long-term damage isn’t taking place in the engine and that you aren’t compromising the safety of your vehicle.

So, just what does the “Check Engine” light mean?

The “check engine” light is the most misunderstood indicator on your dashboard. It can mean various things, from a loose gas cap to a seriously misfiring engine.  Don’t ignore it because it could mean that expensive components of the engine are being damaged. It is also an indicator that your vehicle is experiencing poor fuel economy and emitting higher levels of toxic pollutants.

Here’s how it works–when the electronic-control system finds a problem it cannot adjust, the computer turns on a yellow warning indicator and stores a trouble code in its memory. These diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) help identify the probable source of the problem.  It could be a sensor that is malfunctioning or a more serious problem such as low oil pressure or overheating.  As soon as possible, get your car into your auto shop for a diagnostic test.  With the use of a specialized computer, your mechanic can read these codes and then recommend the appropriate engine repair.

What should you do when the “Check Engine” light comes on?

  • Try tightening your gas cap. If it’s loose or cracked, fuel vapors leak out and can throw the whole fuel system off. This causes a reduction in gas mileage and increases emissions.
  • Reduce speed and lighten your load.
  • Drive to an auto shop for a diagnostic test to read the code and get the problem fixed. It may mean that a sensor has gone bad and needs to be replaced.     

Wondering what does the “check engine” light mean? Contact our ASE Certified technicians at Dependable Car Care today for more information about our engine repair services and to schedule an appointment. Our auto shop proudly serves residents in the community of Ventura, CA, and surrounding area.