Home Automotive How Concerned Should You Be When Your Check Engine Light Turns On

How Concerned Should You Be When Your Check Engine Light Turns On

It’s always a little disconcerting when one of the lights on your car’s dashboard panel comes on. The check engine light refers to the car’s electronics. Can you drive with the check engine light on? The quick answer is, probably it’s okay to drive. However, you shouldn’t ignore the light. You will need to take your car to your mechanic or get a diagnostic to figure out what is going on with your car.

What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?

The check engine light can indicate many different problems, which can make it difficult to know exactly what is wrong. Some are quick fixes while others are more serious. It can be frustrating, since the list is so wide. One of the easiest problems is that the fuel cap is loose. If the check engine light comes on right after you get gas, stop when it’s convenient and tight it up. When you restart the engine, if the light goes off, no worries. If not, then you may have one of these issues:

  • Worn out spark plugs
  • Bad oxygen sensor
  • Loose hoses
  • Cracked manifold
  • Faulty fuel injector
  • Blown head gasket

All of these issues relate to the efficiency of the engine, such as how much gas and air the engine is using during combustion. When the mix is off, you don’t get good gas mileage. More importantly, you could stall out eventually, which means you’ll have an expensive towing bill and potentially some downtime while you wait for a repair.

Ignoring the Check Engine Light

The check engine light isn’t as anxiety-concerning as the oil light or brake light, but it does relate to the performance of your car. You may not notice any performance issues right away, which is why it’s so easy to ignore the check engine light. In most cases, you can drive without any noticeable problems. The concern is that some problems are small things at first. Bad spark plugs are a relatively simple fix and are not that expensive. When ignored, that simple fix can become more costly as other parts break down. The check engine light means that your engine isn’t operating right, which means you aren’t getting good gas mileage and you’re emitting more pollution into the air.

Regular Maintenance Keeps Your Car Operating Well

Oil changes, replacing windshield wiper blades and general inspections can keep your car running better to give you more performance and to maintain the car’s value. It’s economically sound to make sure that you’re taking care of your car’s engine, not to mention environmentally sound. Spending time keeping your car well-maintained may be inconvenient in the moment, but it will be less inconvenient than breaking down on the highway when you’re a long way from home. Having a mechanic perform a regular inspection with your oil change can help you spot issues that could be a problem in the future.

Keep driving safely. Get parts online to maintain your car and to save money. If you need help finding the right part, such as the wiper blade size, use our online tools for your make and model.


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