What Could Cause the Check Engine Light to Come On?

Have you found yourself driving serenely driving down the road when all of a sudden you see the “Check Engine” light illuminate on your dashboard? This little warning light can mean various things, from a loose gas cap to a seriously misfiring engine, indicating that your vehicle is experiencing poor fuel economy and emitting higher than normal levels of toxic pollutants. The important issue is 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.

Here’s how that little light works–when the electronic-control system finds a problem it cannot adjust, the computer turns on a yellow warning indicator and stores a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) in its memory. With the use of a specialized computer, your mechanic can pinpoint the source of a potential problem by “reading” the codes that are generated. It may be that it’s only a sensor that is malfunctioning, or a more serious problem, such as low oil pressure or overheating.

What Should You Do if the “Check Engine” light Starts to Flash?

  1. Tighten the gas cap. If it’s loose or cracked, fuel vapors leak out and can throw the whole fuel system off, reduce gas mileage and increase toxic emissions.
  2. Reduce speed.
  3. Lighten your load.
  4. Drive to an auto shop for a diagnostic test.

A word to the wise: Don’t ignore this warning light as it could mean that components of the engine are being damaged, resulting in a major and costly engine repair.

Wondering what could cause the “Check Engine” light to come on? Contact our ASE Certified technicians at Dependable Car Care for more information about engine service and to schedule an appointment. Our auto shop proudly serves residents in the community of Ventura, CA, and surrounding area.