If you find yourself in a situation where you notice your check engine icon illuminating on your dashboard, there’s something potentially wrong going on with your car’s engine. When the check engine is illuminated, it doesn’t always mean that there’s bad news waiting for you. However, there isn’t a sure way to find out yourself unless it’s just a loose gas cap.
What Is a Check Engine Light?
A check engine light is a little icon on your dash that illuminates when something is wrong in the engine. This check engine light is a way for your vehicle to communicate with the driver that something in its system is amiss. However, a downside to it is that there are multiple possible reasons why the light is on. There’s no sure way of knowing what’s wrong with the car, that’s why it’s crucial to have it serviced as soon as possible. This way, your vehicle can be professionally diagnosed and fixed the right way.
Even if the check engine light doesn’t directly communicate the problem, it has its own mechanism of communicating the gravity of the situation. In most cars, a blinking light means that the issue needs to be looked at immediately. Otherwise, it’s just constantly on. If it is, that means there’s a problem, but it’s not as urgent. Regardless, it’s best to have your car serviced immediately.
Is It Safe to Keep Driving Even With the Check Engine Light On?
If you notice your check engine light on but don’t smell, hear, or sense anything amiss with your car, then it’s most likely safe to keep driving. But even then, be sure to have it inspected by a mechanic as soon as possible. Additionally, your trusted technicians can rotate, align, and balance your car’s tires during regular inspections.
In the case where you notice the exhaust smelling different or hear strange sounds from the engine, drive at a slow and steady pace until you reach the nearest gas station or any other place where you can safely pull over. Call your trusted mechanic or your local auto service provider for immediate help.
Possible Reasons Why It’s On
As mentioned, there are many reasons why your check engine light could be on. Being left in the dark is a feeling nobody likes. Knowing some of the most common reasons gives you insight into what could be wrong with your engine. Although it takes a professional to know the official cause, it’s less nerve-wracking when you know the possibilities.
- Loose Gas Cap
When your check engine light turns on, hope that it’s just your loose gas cap. A simple fix is to tighten it. But it could be broken or cracked, too. Either way, the first thing you should do is check your gas cap when the check engine light is on.
- Ignition System
An ignition system includes the battery, rotor, coil packs, spark plugs, and more. Typically, when something is wrong with a car’s ignition system, the check engine light turns on, too. Whether it’s old spark plugs or a faulty condenser, it’s enough for the check engine light to light illuminate.
- Catalytic Converter
If you see your check engine light on and notice a rotten egg smell, the problem might be coming from the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter is part of the exhaust system. It’s an integral part of the system because it turns carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide in the combustion chamber. It’s a fairly manageable part of the engine, as long as the car owner performs regular inspections and maintenance. The downside to a broken, irreparable catalytic converter is that it’s expensive to replace. Without it, your car won’t be able to run.
- Oxygen Sensor
Speaking of your car’s exhaust system, the oxygen sensor detects how much unburnt oxygen is present in the system. If the sensor becomes faulty, your car might burn more fuel than it usually does. Overall, a vehicle may still be able to work without repairing the oxygen sensor. But it has adverse outcomes for your car. It may put other engine parts, such as the catalytic converter, at risk if left alone.
- Mass Airflow Sensor
The mass airflow sensor monitors the quantity of air entering the engine to ensure that the proper amount of fuel is mixed in. Some signs of failure in our mass airflow sensor include a noisy idle, problems starting, and decreased gas mileage. Your engine may stall or fail to start if you don’t have the proper air and fuel combination.
The Bottom Line
There are other possible reasons why your check engine light turns on. Knowing some possible causes can help ease the ambiguity of what’s going on with your vehicle. But to be sure, have a professional diagnose the problem so that it can be addressed accordingly.