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This Is What to Do When Your Check Engine Light Comes On

Over a five-year survey span, Americans spent almost $2,000, on average, for car maintenance and repairs. While most car maintenance costs aren’t high, car repairs can come with a high price tag.

When the check engine light comes on, panic is a common reaction! The check engine light doesn’t always mean costly repairs, so take a deep breath first.

Read our guide for a list of what you should do when the check engine light comes on.

The Emissions System

There are many reasons why the check engine light comes on and not all of them equal major repairs. The check engine light is related to your car’s powertrain system. The powertrain is any component related to the engine and transmission.

The light lets you know that something within the powertrain is causing potential emissions. That’s why your car won’t pass emissions testing if the check engine light is on.

The check engine light varies from car to car but most are in the shape of a small engine on the dash. When the light comes on, it’s yellow, red, or even orange.

The car’s computer stores a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) when the light comes on.

Is the Check Engine Light Flashing?

The first thing to note when the check engine light comes on is whether it’s flashing. A flashing light signals that you’ve got a serious problem.

If the check engine light is flashing, find a safe location, and pull over. Call for a tow truck and take it to the nearest car repair station.

Is the check engine light lit but not flashing? You can drive to where you’re going but be sure and have it checked out soon.

Get a Diagnostic

You can take your car to an auto parts store first where they’ll check the diagnostic code for free. If it’s something minor, you can pick up the part right there at the store. The check engine light can come on for something as simple as a loose gas cap.

If the problem is major, take your car to your car repair shop for a diagnostic check. Most checks are under $100 and most repair shops waive the fee if you let them do the repair.

Get the Problem Fixed by a Professional

If the problem isn’t simple, go to an experienced and trusted professional. Your car could have an engine, transmission, or other problem.

If you let the problem go on for long, you could make it worse and end up with a more expensive car repair.

When the Check Engine Light Comes On

When the check engine light comes on, don’t panic! If the light blinks, pull over as soon as it’s safe and have your car towed to the nearest station.

If the light isn’t blinking, no need to pull over but do get your car checked soon. Regular oil changes and car maintenance keep your car in good working order and reduce your chances of an errant check engine light.

Are you looking for experienced car care professionals in the Los Angeles area? Check us out!