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What to do when Car Engine Light Signal Comes On?
You are driving your car, minding your beeswax, and suddenly you see a light popping up in your vehicle's dashboard. There is a symbol that indicates a car engine, and 'check' or 'check engine' might be visible next to the symbol. This is the check engine light.
If you are a vehicle owner and have ever come across such a situation, this article will surely help you gain knowledge on your car’s check engine light.
What Does a Check Engine Light Mean and Where Is It Located?
Check engine light belongs to a vehicle's commonly-named diagnostics system. With technological innovation, computers can now monitor the performance of a vehicle, regulating engine speed, ignition timing and fuel mixture.
However, when it encounters an issue in the electronic-control system that it cannot correct, it switches on a yellow warning light labelled 'service engine soon' or ‘check engine’ or ‘check powertrain’. If not, the indicator can be an image of the engine with ‘check’ written below it. This is known as a check engine light or Malfunction Indicator Light in a modern vehicle.
This engine light symbol shows up on every modern four-wheeler's dashboard or instrumental panel.
What Are the Reasons for the Check Engine Light to Turn On?
Following reasons cause the engine light symbol to flash–
- Malfunction in the catalytic converter – A catalytic converter converts the toxic gases and harmful hydrocarbons into less toxic gases. A malfunction can lead to power loss to wheels and bad mileage as well.
- Sensor fault due to mass airflow – This happens when someone does not change the air filter, which causes the airflow in the engine to choke. It results in bad mileage, poor idling and car stalling.
- Open or loose fuel cap – As frivolous as it sounds, an open or loose fuel cap affects the vehicle’s performance and maintains the pressure throughout the system and line. This increases emissions and reduces the mileage of the vehicle.
- Old or damaged spark plugs – The spark plugs ignite fuel mixture and air in the combustion chamber of the engine.
- Fault in oxygen sensor – Faulty readings in the oxygen sensor can lead to poor performance of the vehicle and can cause damage to the catalytic converter.
What Does Solid and Flashing Check Engine Light Mean?
A solid CEL means that there is a problem in the vehicle’s engine. However, the issue does not need immediate attention. But keep in mind that waiting too long to get the issue solved might result in further problems.
A flashing engine light indicates an issue with the engine that requires immediate attention. In such circumstances, the vehicle owner must take his car to a professional automobile workshop immediately. However, it might be unsafe for a driver to drive the vehicle themselves in such cases. They should get their vehicle towed to the nearest automobile garage if such a circumstance arises.
A flashing engine light means that there is an issue in these areas –
- Fuel injector
- Oxygen sensor
- Airflow sensor
- Ignition coil
- Spark plugs or plug wires
- Catalytic converter
- Engine valves
Is It Safe to Drive With the Check Engine Light On?
The CEL coming on while driving can be frightening. However, there is no need to panic, you can drive your vehicle for a few miles. Check if there is an unusual sound or if the vehicle is performing strangely. Ensure to fix an appointment for engine inspection as soon as possible to avoid severe and expensive on-road discrepancies.
What to Do If Your Check Engine Light Is On?
Do these things if your car’s check engine light is on –
- Ensure that there is no serious issue that needs immediate attention. Check for low oil, overheating and pressure indication on the dashboard gauges. Take care of these problems immediately.
- Try to tighten your fuel or gas cap.
- If you encounter a flashing CEL or any severe performance issues like power loss, try reducing the vehicle’s speed and load on the engine. Get the engine check as soon as possible to avoid the hefty expenses.
- Try using the built-in diagnostics facilities that many modern vehicles have.
How to Turn Off the Check Engine Light?
There are several methods to turn off the check engine light. Some of which are –
- Drive your vehicle and see if the light goes off by itself. If you see the engine light is on after three days, visit your nearest garage or try the methods mentioned below.
- Sometimes the trouble codes automatically reset when the car is turned on and turned off thrice in succession. For doing this, insert the key in the ignition, turn the car on for a second and turn it off for a second. Continue doing this two more times, then drive your car normally and check if the light is reset.
- Open the bonnet of your car, and using a wrench, try disconnecting the positive power wire to the car battery. Leave it disconnected for a minimum of fifteen minutes. After this, insert the key in the ignition and turn it three times to 'ON' position. Then check if the car’s check engine light has been reset.
- Make use of an OBD code reader. These code readers analyse and then clear the trouble codes in the vehicle’s engine.
These methods help an individual to reset the car’s check engine light. However, if the problem persists, consider visiting a professional automobile workshop and getting the engine check as soon as possible. This will help you save a lot of money, you have to pay otherwise, in case of any on-road trouble.