It may seem like the check engine light deliberately chooses the most inconvenient time possible to turn on. The pesky orange light will never wait until you have some spare time and a little extra cash, rather, it will illuminate when your schedule is packed and have no time for vehicle service. Although the check engine light is so easy to ignore, it is in your best interest to observe it and prioritize getting your vehicle to the shop. The sooner you can get your vehicle in for a diagnostic and service, the better off you will be.
What Makes the Check Engine Light Turn On?
The check engine light illuminates to tell you that part of your vehicle’s engine or exhaust system is not functioning properly. You might not notice any symptoms or changes in performance, but if you delay getting the vehicle serviced, you will start to notice problems and signs of damage. The check engine light must be treated seriously; we see too many people who have ignored their check engine light for far too long, only to have a minor problem snowball into a major one.
However, don’t confuse the check engine light with the service light. The service light is simply telling you that your vehicle is due for a regular service, such as an oil service or coolant flush. While you shouldn’t ignore a service light either, it is a more flexible notification than the check engine light.
There are a range of issues that could trigger your check engine light, but these are the most common:
- Engine problems
- Missing or broken gas cap
- Emission problems
- Faulty oxygen sensor
The engine is the beating heart of your vehicle; ensuring that the engine is functioning properly is auto maintenance 101. The check engine light is your warning system that all is not well under the hood, and that it’s time to diagnose and treat the problem immediately. While most problems that cause the check engine light to illuminate fall into one of the broad categories listed above, here is a more in-depth look into what may be triggering the check engine light.
Common Triggers of the Check Engine Light
Here is a more detailed look at some of the issues that will cause your check engine light to illuminate.
- Mass Air Flow Sensor (MAF): This component measures the flow rate of air into your engine. It plays a critical role in influencing the air-fuel mixture that happens in the combustion cylinders. If the MAF is malfunctioning, and you have an improper air-fuel mixture in the cylinders, your engine will not perform efficiently and your vehicle will lose fuel line pressure. To restore fuel line pressure and engine efficiency, you will need to get your MAF serviced.
- Catalytic Converter: The catalytic converter is part of your exhaust system; it removes pollution from your vehicle’s exhaust fumes and converts them into less toxic gasses. This is typically an inexpensive fix if attended to quickly.
- Oxygen Sensors: The oxygen sensors (O2 sensors) monitor the quantity of unburned oxygen in your exhaust fumes. A malfunctioning O2 sensor will reduce your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and may cause issues with your catalytic converter.
- Wiring Problems: The check engine light may come on to indicate an electrical issue – if it does, it is most likely indicating problems with your wiring harness or spark plugs. Fixing electrical problems usually isn’t a huge job, but finding them can be! That’s why it’s so important to have a licensed technician diagnose the problem. If ignored, a wiring problem could cause detrimental effects to numerous components of your engine.
There is no need to fear the check engine light, it is simply your car trying to tell you that it needs a little attention from a trusted mechanic. Although, as we mentioned earlier, a check engine light never picks a convenient time to illuminate, you will thank yourself for making time to bring your vehicle in as soon as possible. Having your vehicle off the road for a day is much better than letting the problem fester and snowball into a major concern.
Auto Service Made Easy
The Tunerworks Service process is designed to make automotive maintenance simpler, easier, and faster than you’ve ever experienced. We share our findings with you through a Digital Inspection Report that is texted and emailed to you directly, so you can stay informed about what’s going on with your vehicle.
Bring your vehicle to Tunerworks, and will have the cause of that check engine light sorted in no time. Simply text us at 403.398.9833 or send us a message to get your vehicle in right away.