What Does A Check Engine Light Mean On My Dashboard



What Does A Check Engine Light Mean On My Dashboard

There are several reasons why a Check Engine Light, or Service Engine Soon light might come on, some are a very simple fix, but others are very serious.

[adtoappearhere]Depending on the make of your vehicle, you may see a Check Engine icon or SERVICE ENGINE SOON light on your dashboard so what does it mean when it comes on.

Why Does A Check Engine Light Come on?

The official name of a check engine light is The Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL).  The MIL is part of an onboard diagnostic (OBDII) system which monitors the emissions and engine control system. If the vehicle is ready for emissions testing, the light will come on when the ignition is first turned on and remain on, as a bulb check, until the engine is started. If the vehicle is not ready for emissions testing the light will come on when the ignition is first turned on and remain on for 15 seconds, then blink for 5 seconds, and remain on until the vehicle is started.

There are two conditions when the MIL comes on, the first condition is that the light will remain on while driving and the other is the MIL will flash when driving, in the first condition, MIL stays on, it suggests a potential engine control problem and the need for system service.  Although your vehicle will usually be drivable and not need towing, see your authorized dealer for service as soon as possible.

The other condition is more serious, if the MIL light comes on and flashes when driving, then the vehicle should not be driven and should be towed to a dealership and investigated promptly.

What Are Some Reasons why a Check Engine or Service Engine Soon Light to



    1. Oxygen Sensor Needs Replacing. This part of your vehicle monitors the unburned oxygen from the exhaust. It also monitors how much fuel is burned, and when it fails, it will cause a decrease in gas mileage. The sensors get covered in dirt and oil ash over time and will reduce the functionality of the sensor. Avoid a busted catalytic convertor down the line which can cost $2,000, and pay an auto repair shop around $200 to fix it.
    2. Loose Gas Cap. This is the most common reason for an MIL to be on.  When a gas cap is loose, fuel vapors escape and throw your car’s system for a loop. Before taking your car in, make sure the cap you have is tightened securely, and that there are no cracks. If your gas cap is missing or broken, replace it right away, a gas caps run about $5 at an auto parts shop – an easy and inexpensive fix.
    3. Catalytic Converter Failure. This carbon monoxide converter is important to run your car efficiently. Most of the time this will need to be replaced, which can cost up to $2,000 – so be sure to get your vehicle into an experienced mechanic ASAP.
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    5. Mass Airflow Sensor Failure. This handy device tells your car’s computer to add the correct amount of fuel by gauging the amount of air coming through the engine. Your car will likely fail emissions, stall out, and have a significant decrease in gas mileage. To avoid this problem, keep your air filter fresh by replacing it once a year. The replacement cost at a mechanic can be anywhere between $200-$400, so be sure to keep your air filter fresh and clean to avoid this cost.
    6. Spark Plugs and Wires Need Replacing.  Failing spark plugs mean misfiring, and a resulting jolt in your car’s acceleration. If your car is newer and has fewer than 100,000 miles, your spark plugs should be fine. If they do fail, get them fixed immediately. It’s a cheap fix and will help avoid a ton of other costly repairs down the line.


    Prolonged driving with the Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) on could cause damage to the engine control system. It also could affect fuel economy and drivability. If the MIL is flashing, severe catalytic converter damage and power loss will soon occur. Immediate service is required.


    [adtoappearhere]A malfunctioning catalytic converter, as referenced above, can reach higher temperatures than in normal operating conditions. This can cause a fire if you drive slowly or park over flammable substances such as dry plants, wood, cardboard, etc. This could result in death or serious injury to the driver, occupants or others.

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