Check Engine Light : The most misunderstood indicator on your dashboard! - Cowichan Auto Repair
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Check Engine Light : The most misunderstood indicator on your dashboard!

Engine malfunction warning light

Engine malfunction warning lightHello everyone. Say you’re driving along in your car and out of nowhere, a yellow light flicks on your dashboard and it says CHECK ENGINE LIGHT. You are immediately shocked and worried and you have no idea why this light has suddenly come on. You are not alone, my friend. If you are like most car owners, you have very little knowledge of why this light has come on and what you should do about it.

The check engine light is part of your vehicle’s on board diagnostics (OBD) system. Computers have control and monitor vehicle performance, regulating such variables as engine speed (RPM), fuel mixture, and ignition timing, and may even tell the automatic transmission when to shift. The check engine light is reserved only for problems that may have an effect on the vehicle emissions systems.

The check engine light can mean lots of different things, from a loose gas cap to a misfiring engine. If this light comes on, you should get your car checked out as soon as possible. Please do not ignore this warning light. You could end up doing a lot of damage to your vehicle.

What does it mean?

Check Engine Light OnIf the check engine light comes on, it will either blink or remain constant, depending on the problem. Either way, you should have your vehicle checked by a qualified Service Technician as soon as possible.

If the light is steady. The problem is not an emergency, but you should schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Cowichan Auto Repair offers a FREE “Engine Light On Scan”. If your Check Engine Light is blinking or lighting up, bring your vehicle into Cowichan Auto Repair as soon as possible and we will scan your vehicle for free.

A blinking light usually indicates a severe engine misfire allowing unburned fuel to be dumped into the exhaust system. There it can quickly raise the temperature of the catalytic converter to a point where damage is likely, requiring an expensive repair. If this occurs, you should reduce power and have the vehicle checked as soon as possible.

If the check engine light comes on:

Look for a serious problem that requires immediate attention.

Check your dashboard gauges and lights for signs of low oil pressure or overheating. If you see these signs, you should pull over and turn off the engine as soon as you can find a safe place to do so.

Tighten your gas cap.
Tightening your gas cap often solves the problem. Know that it may take several trips before the light resets. Some vehicles have a separate indicator that warns you of a loose gas cap before setting off the check engine light.

Reduce speed and load.
If the check engine light is blinking or you notice any serious performance problems, such as a loss of power, reduce your speed and try to reduce the load on the engine.

Have the code read and the problem fixed.
Take the vehicle to a professional. Some automotive stores will read and interpret the code for you. However, unless there is an easy solution to the problem, you should have the vehicle diagnosed by a qualified service technician.

Don’t confuse the Check Engine light with the maintenance reminder or service interval light. These things light up when a routine service is due. They are usually triggered by mileage, amount of fuel consumed, or some other type of vehicle-use measurement.

Important things to watch for:

  • The conditions of the battery and charging system are critical to the proper operation of the electronic control system. Both should be routinely checked by measuring cranking and engine running battery voltage

  • Make sure the battery rating meets at least the minimum cranking amperage (CA or CCA) requirement for your vehicle

  • The fan/alternator or serpentine belt on your vehicle is an integral part of the charging system. Belts should be examined for signs of wear and proper adjustment

  • Loose or corroded cable ends may stop your battery from having a full charge

Remember, here at Cowichan Auto Repair, we offer a free “Check Engine Light Scan.” If you see your check engine light come on, do not hesitate to bring your vehicle into our shop for a free scan.


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