You’re almost certainly aware of the engine check light on your car. It’s the orange engine shaped light which, when lit, sparks fear in the hearts of many drivers.
The check engine light was originally a signal of the death of the vehicle. The idea was to pull over quick and panic. But, with the massive increase in electronics in vehicles this is no longer the case. A check engine light which stays on indicates a minor fault and is not something you need to react to immediately.
A flashing engine check light indicates a severe fault, this is when you should get your vehicle looked at as soon as possible.
It is probably tempting to try and diagnose it yourself; you’ll need a scanning tool as the engine check light will store a fault code in your onboard computer. However, it is advisable to visit a professional in car repair services. Many of the cheaper scanners you can buy will not read all the codes, a professional will have the right equipment to diagnose and quickly treat the issue.
It is worth noting there are several very simple causes of a check engine light coming on, but you’ll need to get a professional to read the codes before you can fix it yourself.
Why The Engine Check Light Comes On
All modern cars have computers fitted to them. They monitor the state of the engine through an array of sensors and then control the running of the engine, specifically fuel injection speed and the burn mix.
When one of these elements goes out of line the computer will attempt to adjust the others to fix the issue. If it can’t the engine check light will come on. The code for the fault is stored and you’re in need of a fault code reader!
Action You Need To Take
The important thing to remember is that your vehicle is very sophisticated. If it detects a severe problem it will usually put your vehicle into ‘limp home’ mode. This is when the car has limited power. You should head straight home or to your local garage for fault diagnosis.
When the light is steady and there is no apparent issue with the engine and drivability of the vehicle then you should be safe to continue your journey. However, it is still important to have your vehicle looked at as soon as possible.
If your light is steady, indicating a minor fault, then you might decide to continue driving for days or even weeks. After all, the vehicle might seem no different.
However, doing this could result in a much bigger bill. A steady engine check light could simply indicate a failed oxygen sensor. If you don’t replace it then the fuel will not be burnt completely. Your miles per gallon will reduce and there will be an increase in carbon build up inside your engine.
Unfortunately this can lead to carbon in your catalytic convertor which will dramatically reduce its life, leaving you with an expensive repair bill!
In short, get your vehicle checked and fixed as soon as possible but don’t panic when the light comes on, it doesn’t have to cost the earth.