My Check Engine Light Is On : Now What?

When the check engine light illuminates, here's what you should do.
Posted On May 25, 2023
By Integra Tire Canada

Amidst the cluster of lights on your car’s dashboard, there’s one that grabs attention like no other: the notorious check engine light. It may lay dormant, but when it comes alive, it’s time to take action. The check engine light is a mysterious indicator that can be triggered by a multitude of causes. Its purpose is to alert you that something is amiss, but beyond its illumination, it provides little insight into the specific issue at hand. Disregarding this warning can potentially jeopardize your vehicle’s well-being or even your own safety. While there are numerous potential causes for the illumination of your check engine light, it is prudent to investigate and confirm that it does not signify a more substantial or urgent issue.

Is A Check Engine Light Always A Major Problem?

When the dreaded check engine light illuminates on your dashboard, it’s natural to assume the worst. However, it’s important to remember that the presence of this warning signal doesn’t always indicate a major problem with your vehicle.

In fact, it could be as trivial as a loose gas cap. Before jumping to conclusions, it’s advisable to start by checking the gas cap, which is a simple task that doesn’t require any technical expertise (Hint: if you just filled up with gas and your check engine light illuminates, this is strong sign the two are related). Ensuring that the gas cap is securely fastened and in good condition may resolve the issue. If the cap appears to be defective, replacing it is a cost-effective solution that can be easily performed at your local Integra Tire, or at home.

After confirming that the gas cap is not the issue, it is crucial to have your vehicle diagnosed by a qualified Integra Tire technician. Ignoring a persistent check engine light can lead to potential damage to your vehicle’s components.

Diagnostic Codes and Scanners

Vehicles produced since 1996 have an onboard diagnostic system (OBD-II). This port, typically located under the steering wheel (although older models may have it on the passenger side), serves as a gateway to valuable information. By connecting a compatible scanner to the port, diagnostic or trouble codes provide insights into the underlying issues. While your local Integra Tire possess specialized computers for this task, OBD-II scanners are now easily accessible through retailers.

While codes point you in the right direction, a skilled mechanic goes beyond the digits. Visual inspections, road tests, and your vehicle’s history are all part of their detective work to uncover the exact issue.

Common Causes

Although there could be a multitude of reasons for your check engine light illuminating, there are a few common culprits. These include:

  1. Oxygen sensor (or O2 sensor)
    The oxygen sensor monitors fuel consumption in the car. A faulty sensor can reduce mileage, increase emissions, and potentially damage the expensive catalytic converter.
  2. Catalytic converter failure
    The catalytic converter converts harmful gases in the exhaust system. Proper maintenance, such as regular oil changes, is essential to prevent expensive repairs. Issues with other components like oxygen sensors or spark plugs can also affect the converter.
  3. Spark plug or ignition coil failure
    Faulty spark plugs or ignition coils can lead to engine misfires, triggering the engine light. This applies to gasoline-powered vehicles, as diesel engines operate differently.
  4. Airflow sensor failure
    The mass airflow sensor measures air intake and fuel requirements for the engine. Malfunctioning sensors can cause increased emissions and potential stalling. Properly maintaining the air filter can prevent sensor failure.

Don’t Let It Spiral Out Of Control

Failing to address the check engine light can result in various consequences, which include:

  • Aggravation of the issue: Small problems can snowball into expensive repairs if neglected.
  • Reduced fuel efficiency: A struggling engine means more trips to the pump, costing you extra.
  • Emission complications: That light could be warning you about your vehicle’s emission control system. Ignoring it may lead to environmental trouble and potential fines.
  • Damage to other components: Issues with one engine part can have a domino effect. Ignoring the check engine light may lead to additional and costly repairs.
  • Safety risks: In certain cases, the check engine light can indicate safety concerns, such as problems with airbags or the emissions system. Ignoring this warning could jeopardize your safety and the safety of others.

What Should You Do?

To avoid escalating issues, it is highly recommended to promptly visit your local Integra Tire and address the check engine light. During your visit, your service advisor will inquire about the circumstances surrounding the light’s illumination, other potential vehicle symptoms, and more. Based on this information, a suitable plan can be devised to resolve the problem, potentially involving further inspection if necessary.

Questions? Our Advisors are Happy to Help!

If you have questions about anything you've read in this resource page, contact your nearest Integra Tire dealer for more information. We are passionate in assisting our customers make the best choices to keep their vehicles in tip-top shape and keep their families safe.
Resource Tags: check engine , engine , warning lights
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