Tunerworks Service

“Service Engine” VS “Check Engine” Light

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Whether you want to know exactly which component is misbehaving and what is wrong with it, or you just want a head’s up to visit the shop, it is important to understand how to respond to both the Check Engine and Service Engine lights.

Check engine square

It’s easy to confuse the Check Engine light and the Service Engine Soon light. Each are small orange or yellow lights that illuminate on our dashboard and are often met with feelings of panic or dread. While there is no reason to fear either light, it is important to recognize the differences between the two.

Modern vehicles are equipped with sophisticated computer systems that monitor the operation of nearly every mechanical and electrical component in your vehicle. When these systems get a reading that is outside of normal parameters, they illuminate the appropriate light on your dashboard so you can get the vehicle to a service centre.

The limited space of our dashboards restricts how much detail our computer diagnostic systems can communicate. In addition to that, there are many drivers who simply don’t care what is wrong, they just want their vehicle to tell them when it’s time to go for a service. Whether you want to know exactly which component is misbehaving and what is wrong with it, or you just want a head’s up to visit the shop, it is important to understand how to respond to both the Check Engine and Service Engine lights.

The simplest way to describe the difference is that the Service Engine light informs us of upcoming expected maintenance. On the other hand, the Check Engine light informs you of an unexpected problem occurring in your engine or exhaust system.

The Service Engine Soon Light

This light should be easy to distinguish, as it usually contains the word “service” in addition to whatever symbols your vehicle displays. The light will display something like “Service Soon”, “Service Due”, or “Service Engine Soon”. Some vehicles, such as Mercedes-Benz, may also indicate the type of service with some sort of code (“Service A” or “Service B”).

Examples of the type of maintenance signaled by your Service Engine light include:

  • Oil service
  • Air filter
  • Transmission fluid service

The operative word in the “Service Engine Soon” light is “soon”. Your vehicle isn’t warning you of imminent catastrophic failure, it’s just telling you that it needs a routine service – there’s no need to panic. That being said, ignoring this light for an extended period would result in unnecessary damage to your engine.

When this light illuminates, get in touch with your trusted automotive service centre and schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience. To get in touch with Tunerworks, just send us a text at 403.398.9833 or send us an email. Our expert technicians will quickly identify the cause of the light and provide your vehicle with the necessary service.

The Check Engine Light

While there is no reason to fear the Check Engine light, it should be treated with more urgency than the Service Engine Soon light. As mentioned earlier, this light only illuminates when your onboard diagnostic system detects a problem with your engine or exhaust system. It could be as simple as a loose gas filler cap or something more serious.

There are a huge range of problems that can trigger the Check Engine light, examples of such problems include:

  • Malfunctioning mass airflow sensor (MAF)
  • Malfunctioning catalytic converter
  • Improper engine timing
  • Problems with the spark plugs
  • and several more

The problem with the Check Engine light is that it’s so easy to ignore. Often, the cause of the Check Engine light won’t immediately affect your driving, but that doesn’t mean that there is no damage occurring. Check Engine lights don’t arbitrarily illuminate, so you’re better off getting the problem attended to as soon as possible.

We speak to many drivers who have delayed visiting the shop because they feared the repair bills. The problem with this line of thinking is that ignoring the Check Engine light will only increase the severity of the underlying condition – you are much better off bringing your vehicle to us as soon as you notice the Check Engine light so we can deal with the problem immediately before it snowballs.

The expert technicians at Tunerworks will quickly diagnose the problem and recommend a service to correct the issue. By dealing with the cause of the Check Engine light as soon as possible, we will be able to minimize complications (and your repair bill).

The Tunerworks service team has been taking care of Calgary’s vehicles for over 40 years.  All you need to do is send us a text to 403.398.9833 or email at service@tunerworks.com and our knowledgeable staff will ensure that you and your vehicle experience the best service around.