The Most Ignored Warning Sign

“Oh, it’s just malfunctioning. Nothing’s wrong.”

How often have you heard someone say that—or said it yourself—when the “check engine” light is on? It’s the most commonly dismissed warning sign a car gives. Ignoring it can cost you thousands in repairs or even mean buying a new car. What does the “check engine” light mean? What systems does it cover?

The Details Behind a Little Light

The onboard diagnostics (OBD) system is designed to identify problems with the electronic-control system in your vehicle. Since the advent of OBD II systems, these have been honed to focus on the emissions system of any car. The “check engine” light will only react to problems that affect the vehicle emissions systems.

A steady light usually indicates a non-emergency, such as a loose gas cap. A blinking light usually alerts you to a severe engine misfire. Many of the current automotive computers compensate for things like a loose gas cap, but a “check engine” light should never be ignored. Just because the car is still running all right doesn’t mean it will continue to do so unless checked by a professional.

What Should I Do?

The “check engine” light has come on and you’re not going to ignore it. You’ve done step one! Check for a serious problem that might require immediate attention. Is your car running normally? What do the dashboard gauges say? If your vehicle is overheating or there’s a problem with the oil pressure, find a safe place to pull over immediately. Driving any further than absolutely necessary can cause serious, expensive damages.

If there’s nothing immediately wrong, try tightening your gas cap. One of the features of the current OBD II systems is their registration of an error code in the car’s computer. You can take your vehicle to a qualified service technician like the ones working here at Quanz and have the error code read to determine exactly what went wrong.

While the “check engine” light is rarely an emergency, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Take your vehicle as soon as you can to the nearest Quanz Auto Body and we’ll help you find out what needs to be fixed before a really expensive issue occurs!