What do I do when my check engine light turns on?

Imagine yourself driving along, and suddenly, your vehicle’s check engine light turns on. What does this mean and what should you do next?

To put it simply, your check engine light monitors your car’s performance. When the light illuminates, your car’s internal system is flagging a problem it is unable to repair it.

The check engine light means different things for different vehicles, so unfortunately, the light does not mean the same thing across the board. Just because the check engine light has turned on, doesn’t always mean the problem is severe. It could be something small or in some cases something more serious. At Saddleback Automotive Repair we stress the importance of taking care of the problem as quickly as possible.

Ignoring your check engine light can lead to a significant financial burden.

When your car’s check engine light starts to flash, don’t let it go unnoticed. Your car is trying to tell you something, and it would be wise not to ignore it.

When your check engine light comes on, it usually signifies one of the following reasons:

  • Oxygen sensor damage: This affects your vehicle’s fuel consumption as well.
  • Gas cap error: This is one of the most common reasons the check engine light comes on.
  • Catalytic converter damage: A broken catalytic converter means your vehicle will run at a higher temperature. (this can lead to more damage)
  • Mass air flow sensor needs replacing: Affects how the vehicle runs and gas mileage.
  • Spark plugs or plug wires damage: Affects your vehicle’s overall performance.

Gas Cap

A loose, cracked, or damaged gas cap can cause fuel to evaporate, resulting in the check engine light.

We Recommend:

Your best bet is to take your car to a certified mechanic and let them diagnose the problem. You don’t want to miss something serious.

Oxygen Sensor Damage

Your oxygen sensor monitors the unburned oxygen from the exhaust; It helps monitor how much fuel is burned. An error with your oxygen sensor means a decrease in gas mileage. Over time, the sensor can get covered in grime thus reducing the sensors ability to change the oxygen and fuel mixture.

We Recommend:

Bringing it in. Not replacing a broken oxygen sensor can lead to a busted catalytic converter which is expensive to replace. Luckily, an oxygen sensor is easy to replace on many vehicles and is usually detailed in the vehicle’s manual.

Catalytic Converter Damge

Your catalytic converter reduces exhaust gases. It converts carbon monoxide and other harmful emissions into harmless compounds. If your catalytic converter is damaged, you’ll notice a decrease in gas mileage.

We Recommend:

Regular check-ups and maintenance. Catalytic converters, with regular check-ups, should continue to run efficiently.

Spark Plugs Damaged

Common signs of faulty spark plugs include loss of power, inefficient fuel economy, slow acceleration, engine misfires, and difficulty starting your car.

In vehicles pre-2000, it’s safe to say your spark plugs should be replaced every 20,000-30,000 miles. In newer vehicles, they should be checked every 100,000 miles or so.

We Recommend:

Getting them replaced right away. Spark plug maintenance is fairly straight forward and they are easy to work on.

Southern Orange County Vehicle Maintenance

So when you see that light flickering in the corner of your dash, know that while you will need to see a mechanic in the near future, there’s absolutely no need to panic. It’s ok to keep going, just make sure you have it checked out as soon as you can.

At Saddleback Automotive Service Center, we strive to provide you with an alternative to dealerships by providing the vehicles, and you, with excellent service and the best possible repairs.

We are continually updating and upgrading all of our diagnostic equipment in order to serve our clients confidently, knowing that despite all the changes in technology, we are prepared for any automotive challenges that come our way.

Proudly Serving the Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, and the Orange County community for over 30 years!

Contact Saddleback Automotive Repair Today