Is Your Check Engine Light a Serious Problem? Don’t Panic!

Is check engine light serious?

Is a check engine light serious? This is a question that many drivers often ask due to the fact a check engine light may cause vehicle owners a huge number of stress. No one desires to be stuck with a pricey repair bill or worse an accident because of ignorance. However, there are certainly a few drivers often bury their heads in the sand preferring to ignore the situation altogether.

Is check engine light serious?

What is a check engine light?

Table of Contents

Just like the majority of car warning lights, the check engine light which is often a yellow, red or orange symbol that appears in your car’s dashboard indicating that your vehicle’s system has malfunctioned. This light can either flash or remain steady. If your engine light is steady this means that there’s no reason for immediate alarm. However, if the check engine light is flashing this can be an indication of a crisis and you may want to pull over when possible.

How it works

Cars that were manufactured in 1996 and beyond are equipped having an On-Board Diagnostic II system (OBD-II). It’s sensors which can be found within your engine system that monitor each operation in your vehicle and sends messages to its computer. Whenever one code is sent for the area of the engine that has malfunctioned, the check engine light of your vehicle switches onto alert you.

With regards to the type of your vehicle, the warning light can be red, orange or yellow. This symbol is always in the outline of an automobile engine and most times is combined with what “check engine&rdquo ;.

Is it safe to drive with a check engine light on?

The question of whether it is safe to operate a vehicle with the check engine light on entirely depends on the kind of warning light you get. Listed below are the 2 forms of check engine lights and what they indicate.

1. The check engine light is on but blinking or flashing

As stated above, this is normally an indication of an issue that’s much more serious. If your check engine light is blinking or flashing, the safest choice for you is always to safely pull over and the shut down the engine. The next thing you should take is always to tow your vehicle to the nearest auto repair look for diagnosis and repair.

2. The check engine light is on but steady

This means that there’s an issue along with your engine and though it must be investigated, it’s not that serious at the moment. Despite it not being as serious, you shouldn’t ignore a steady engine light. Instead, book an appointment along with your mechanic when possible to prevent potentially worse damage in the future.

Service light vs engine light

Some individuals often confuse the service light with the engine light thus why we felt the nee do assist you to differentiate the two.  The service light usually in the outline of a wrench and is combined with what “service now” or service soon&rdquo ;.This is just a reminder that you might want to take your vehicle for its routine scheduled maintenance and doesn’t indicate any mechanical issues.

What could cause the check engine light to come on?

Your check engine light glows or blinks depending on what’s wrong with your vehicle. This may be due to a quantity of things. Maybe it’s indicating a critical problem or perhaps a less urgent issue. Regardless, it’s simple to find out what’s up with your car. Bear in mind that the quicker you get it done the more cash you could be potentially saving and also prevent more damage down the road. Here are normal reasons as to why your engine light may be on.

1. Your gas cap is missing, loose or damaged

The big event of gas caps is to seal the fuel system in addition to help to keep pressure within the fuel tank. Along with this, in addition they prevent gasoline fumes also known as hydrocarbons from hitting theaters to the atmosphere when you’re not driving your vehicle.

This is what may happen if that you do not replace your gas cap:

  • You may find yourself taking more trips to the service station
  • You can lose lots of fuel through evaporation

2. It’s about time you replaced your Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF)

This is what measures the amount of air that enters your car’s engine. Its main job is to determine just how much fuel your car or truck needs to run the engine efficiently.

This is what may happen if your MAF is not replaced:

  • You will in all probability experience reduces performance in addition to fuel economy
  • Faulty sensors might cause harm to your car’s spark plugs, catalytic converter or oxygen sensors

3. Your Oxygen Sensors need replacing

The purpose of oxygen sensors is to measure t6he amount of unconsumed oxygen in the exhaust system of one’s vehicle.

This is what may occur to your car or truck if that you do not replace your Oxygen Sensor

  • You can get fewer miles per gallon and lose fuel economy
  • The faulty oxygen sensors could cause harm to your car’s catalytic converter and spark plugs
  • Your engine is likely to be burning more fuel than needed

4. Your car needs new plug wires or spark plugs

While your car’s plug wires deliver the spark to the spark plugs from the ignition coil, the spark plugs ignite the fuel/air mixture in the combustion chamber.

This is what might happen if that you do not replace the spark plugs or spark wire:

  • Worn out plug wires and plugs could damage your car’s ignition coils and oxygen sensors or cause clogged catalytic converter
  • You might experience poor performance such as for instance reduced power or missing engine and also reduced fuel economy

5. Your catalytic converter is spoilt

The catalytic converter of a car helps in protecting or environment through the conversion of harmful carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide.  A broken or spoilt catalytic converter is normally because of neglected maintenance.

Failure to displace a spoilt or damaged catalytic converter might cause the following:

  • Your vehicle running at a higher temperature
  • Your automobile won’t pass an emissions test
  • Experiencing reduced performance and fuel economy

Common things to do when your check turns on

In the case your check engine happens, below are a few tips about that which you must do:

1. Reduce speed and load

If you notice your check engine light is blinking or any other serious performance problem such as for instance loss in power, the first thing you must do is reduce your speed and then try to lessen the demands of one’s car’s engine. It would be a good idea to prevent a towing track and take your car or truck to the nearest mechanic shop to possess it checked. This could prevent expensive damage as time goes by

2. Check to see if there is a serious problem that may require immediate attention

Check the gauges in your dashboard in addition to the lights to see if there any indications for overheating or low pressure.  Some of these conditions signify you’ve to pull over and turn your engine off the moment possible. However, always make sure that you discover a safe spot to pull over. On some cars, the red light means stop today whilst the yellow one means to investigate the situation.

3. Use your car’s built-in diagnostic services if you have

Plenty of modern cars are designed with integrated remote diagnostic capabilities. This allows them to report on trouble codes and also schedule a site appointment. At present, many automakers including Land Rover, Fiat Chrysler, Volvo, Jaguar, Hyundai, and Ford support remote diagnostics in addition to the capability to schedule a site appointment.

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4. Try to tighten your gas cap

Tighten your gas cap can without difficulty solve the problem. However, it may take time before the lights reset. Additionally, there are vehicles that warn when your gas cap is loose.

Other things you should watch out for:

If your cable ends are loose or corroded as they may prevent your car’s battery from maintaining the full state of charge
ensure that the battery rating meets at the very least the minimum, cranking amperage (CCA or CA) requirement for your car or truck

Ensure that you routinely check the condition of one’s car’s charging system and battery as both are critical to the correct operation of the electronic control system

The alternator/fan or serpentine belt on your car or truck is inspected for signs of wear or tear along with proper adjustment. That is since they’re a built-in part of one’s car’s charging system.

Can check engine light turn itself on?

The answer is no. naturally, once the check engine light turns on it means that the car is talking to you. The severity of the issue will depend on the type of light along with the type of error code the computer scanner has identified. As stated earlier, this may be as a result of faulty catalytic converter or failing oxygen sensor which is more severe and costly to correct or it may be something minor like a loose gas cap.

If you discover your face racing at the sight of an always check engine light, decrease, have a breath and analyze the situation.

Check engine light error codes and what they mean

Once you’ve gotten your check engine light error code, it is important that you try and uncover what it means. You will find an array of websites that explain such error codes in simple English that you can easily understand. Similarly, you are able to just type the error code on Google or another search engine. While doing so, you might want to range from the make and type of your car or truck and the entire year it had been manufactured.

More frequently than not, you are certain to get results pertaining to the issue your car or truck may be facing along with repair suggestions. However, one downside for looking up for code errors online is that they cannot accurately diagnose the issue that the car is facing. Having the code might still show that it is a general area defect thus requiring further diagnosis.

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1. Error Code P0440

This is a very common error code meaning the vapor from your fuel tank is escaping to the atmosphere. The key reason for this can be quite a loose gas cap. The logical solution here is to prevent your car or truck and tighten the cap or contain it replaced altogether. Once that is fixed the check engine light will automatically stop after driving for approximately 50 to 100 miles.

Should the light still stick to, this could show that the leak is brought on by another underlying issue which must be determined by an avowed mechanic.

Your options after reading the codes

Once you’ve read the check engine light error codes you are able to do either one of the three things:

1. Purchase an inexpensive code scanner and read it for yourself

If you are driving an older model then this may be described as a good option for you. The reason being the occasional check engine light might you need to be due to minor issues. These scanners cost less than $15, there are even some that send information to your phone using a wireless connection.

2. Take your car to a mechanic and pay to have it diagnosed

Most mechanics consent to waive this fee in the event that you agree to have the necessary repair services done at their garage.

3. Take your car to an auto spare shop and have the error code read for free

Obtaining a free check engine light diagnosis may be best for you especially when the error turns out to be something minor meaning you are able to fix it by yourself.

Will check engine light reset itself?

Once you’ve fixed the issue, your check engine light is designed to automatically come off after a few minutes of driving. If you have a code reader then resetting your car’s computer error codes is possible. This will allow you to turn fully off the check engine light on your own own. However, bear in mind that when you have not fixed the core problem with your car or truck, this light should come back on after some time. Avoid this especially as soon as your car up for an emissions test as this will outrightly make you fail the inspection test. Since sometimes the check engine light error code is stored in your computer system, it might neglect to illuminate on the dash.

A possible snowball effect is another disadvantage of ignoring your car’s check engine light warning. When a simple inexpensive part malfunctions but is left unattended, this might little by little damage the rest as well that could again be costly to repair.

When not to panic if your check engine light comes on

How urgent may be the check engine light? As it pertains on should I pull over or go straight home? Should I check for something or begin to panic? This are just a number of the questions that pop in the minds of all drivers each time they consider an always check engine light warning. While there are lots of explanations why this may happen for you, there are a few situations where you do not have to panic and here are some of them.

1. It may not be an emergency

Your check engine light rarely singles anything disastrous especially if it’s steady, unlike several other lights that’ll think about it in your car or truck including the oil light that could mean a serious problem if you do not address it right away.

Sometimes, if the light is steady it might show that you’re probably okay to operate a vehicle a few more days or even a few more miles. However, the smart move to make in this situation is always to take your car or truck for diagnosis and repair if needed.

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2. It may just be a minor issue such as a loose, damaged or missing gas cap

Many car owners are not aware a faulty, loose or cracked gas cap could cause fuel in your car or truck to evaporate thus turning your check engine warning light on. When this occurs, the first thing you have to do is pull over in a secure place to be sure of your gas cap. Secondly, ensure that the cap is on tightly. Lastly, your check engine light should stop in about 10 to 20 minutes once you’re back traveling if this indeed was the problem.

A certified mechanic should be able to diagnose the issue quite easily

As a result of advancement in technology, we will be able to determine what the core issue is whenever our car’s check engine light goes on. For now, however, we still have to depend on the services of certified mechanics which is your only best bet of knowing what the issue is.

Consider other reasons why the check engine light might be on

Apart from a faulty, cracked or loose gas cap, there are a dozen other explanations why your check engine light is on. Some of those reasons might be more difficult than you think thus requiring an avowed mechanic to diagnose. In addition, several of those issues may not be fixed privately of the road. The triggers can be anything from the faulty catalytic converter or worn out spark plugs to damaged ignition coils or vacuum hose.

The next time your check engine light comes on, just know as you will demand the service of a mechanic in the longer term, you do not have to panic. It might be okay to help keep going so long as you ensure you will get the issue diagnosed and fixed when possible.

How many more miles can you drive if the check engine light is on

Typically, so long as your car or truck is running smoothly you are able to still drive even if the check engine light is on provided to take your car or truck to the mechanic for diagnosis when possible. Once the check engine light is steady and not blinking, you are able to drive your car or truck for a huge selection of miles without encountering any grave issue. However, this, of course, depends on the error code that is stored on your own computer.

The most common check engine light repair costs

Costs for repairing whatever issue your car or truck has that is causing the check engine light in the future on vary greatly. According to CarMD’s 2016 analysis of millions of repairs, the cost of repair for the most frequent forms of check engine light problems can range between $20 to almost $1,200. Guidelines the most frequent forms of check engine light issues and the typical amount of cash it will cost you to repair.

  • Problem: Faulty oxygen sensor. Repair: replacement of the oxygen sensor. Cost: $259
  • Problem: Loose fuel cap. Repair: Inspect tip check if replacement is essential or simply needs tightening. Cost: $17
  • Problem: Mass venting sensor. Repair: Replacement of the mass airflow sensor. Cost: $378
  • Problem: Ignition coil and spark plug. Repair: Replacement of the ignition coil and spark plug. Cost: $401
  • Problem: Catalytic converter. Repair: Replacement of new OEM catalytic converter. Cost: $1,190

Why checking your check engine light is important

Whilst the check engine light doesn’t necessarily show that you have an emergency, it’s important that you don’t ignore it. All of the times, it’s an indication that you have to see your mechanic for proper diagnosis. You would be surprised to learn there are lots of drivers traveling who just choose to ignore this warning sign. Making time for what your car or truck is trying to express for you by answering the check engine light is very important because it could help you save from incurring more expenses in regards to repairs along with stop your car or truck from getting more damages consequently of a snowball effect.


It’s paramount that each driver whether old, new or potential know just what a check engine light means, how urgent it’s and why they should not ignore it. Now that you have all the information you will need what’s stopping you from being truly a better driver.