If Your Check Engine Light On – Don’t Ignore It

The check engine light is part of your vehicle’s onboard diagnostics (OBD) system.  Computers have control and monitor your vehicles performance, regulating such variables as engine speed (RPM), fuel mixture, and ignition timing.

When the electronic-control system finds a problem it cannot adjust, the computer turns on a yellow warning indicator and stores a trouble code in its memory. These diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) help identify the probable source of the problem, such as a malfunctioning sensor or a misfiring engine and can be read with a diagnostic computer. Vehicle manufacturers originally used the OBD system to help technicians pinpoint problems. What the OBD system looks for depends on the make, model and year of manufacture of your vehicle.

Engine Warning Light
The original systems varied widely in their capabilities and some did little more than check whether the various electronic sensors were working correctly. More recent systems required under European law require the regulation of vehicle emissions, vehicle manufacturers were required to install a more sophisticated system that, for all intents and purposes, acts like a built-in emissions monitoring station.

What does it mean?

If the check engine light is on, it will either blink or remain constant, depending on the problem. Either way, you should have the vehicle checked by a Qualified Service Centre such as A1 Clutches as soon as possible.

If the light is steady. The problem is not an emergency, but you should book an appointment as soon as possible.

A blinking light usually indicates a severe engine misfire allowing unburnt fuel to be dumped into the exhaust system. There it can quickly raise the temperature of the catalytic converter to a point where damage is likely, requiring an expensive repair. If this occurs, you should reduce power and have the vehicle checked as soon as possible.

Today’s vehicle computers often try to compensate when there’s a problem: so you may not notice deterioration in performance, even though your fuel mpg is suffering and your vehicle may be emitting unacceptable levels of hydrocarbons and/or other pollutants. If the check engine light comes on:

Look for a serious problem that may require immediate attention

Check your dashboard gauges and lights for indications of low oil pressure or overheating. These conditions mean you should pull over and shut off the engine as soon as you can find a safe place to do so.

Try tightening your fuel filler cap

This often solves the problem. Keep in mind that it may take several trips before the light resets. Some vehicles have a separate indicator that warns of a loose fuel cap before the condition sets off the check engine light.

Reduce speed and load

If the check engine light is blinking or you notice any serious performance problems, such as a loss of power, reduce your speed and try to reduce the load on the engine. For example, it would be a good idea to stop towing a trailer. Have the car checked as soon as possible to prevent expensive damage.

Have the code read and the problem fixed

Take the vehicle to a professional such as A1 Clutches, you should have the vehicle diagnosed by a qualified service technician who will quickly diagnose what’s wrong. This is where the real meaning of codes comes into play. The code will indicate which system or circuit to investigate to resolve the problem.

Don’t confuse the Check Engine light with the maintenance reminder or service interval light. These lights illuminate when a routine service is due. They are usually triggered by mileage, amount of fuel consumed, or some other type of vehicle-use measurement.

The Five most common causes of a check engine light:

1) Oxygen sensor
2) Loose or faulty fuel cap
3) Catalytic converter
4) Airflow sensor
5) Spark plugs and leads