Check engine light is probably the most confusing dashboard light there is. Usually any other light will have a clear meaning as well as a solution to it.
Whereas in check engine light case it can be anything from loose gas cap to failed catalytic converter. No matter what you think it is, it is highly advisable to get your vehicle scanned to find out what codes it shows and what might be the cause of it. You can do that by stopping at any parts stores, near auto service or in case you yourself own a scanner that can do that.
Just get it checked, turned off if needed to see if it comes back but do not drive with it. Otherwise there is no way of telling if there is a bigger problem or it is still on due to the same code.
Make sure to call before stopping by at any facility if you own a vehicle that is older than year 1996. Simply put, only in 1996 car manufacturers started releasing cars that all have universal connectors for scanners. If your car is older than that it probably needs a particular scanner that the place might not necessarily have. It can definitely be diagnosed manually but it will take more time.
Here at Z Auto Service we offer FREE check engine light scanning if you stop by our shop. Just call us before and we will do out best to fit you in to at least see if that is something serious or just an easy fix to give you a peace of mind. If needed, we can also try turning it off to see if it comes back and requires more serious attention. Five minutes of your time might save you tons of headache in the future.
Most common issues that cause check engine light to come on:
Gas cap is loose, damaged or missing. It is easy to check especially if your check engine light came on just right after the last visit to gas station. Inspect it visually for cracks, make sure it is tightened and see if it goes away when proceeding to drive. If that is the case it will make you loose fuel due to evaporation, increase emissions and decrease your gas mileage.
Failed oxygen sensor. It monitors how much fuel is burned by measuring the mount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust system. Eventually it may increase your emissions as well decrease fuel efficiency. If not taken care of it also might lead to spark plug and catalytic converter damage.
Failed mass air flow sensor. It monitors how much fuel is used by measuring the mount of air coming through the engine. Eventually it might lead to reduced performance, increased emissions as low gas mileage. If not taken care of it might cause damage to oxygen sensor, spark plugs as well as catalytic converter.
Failed spark plug/s and/or wires. Spark is delivered from ignition coil to spark plugs through wires and then spark plugs initiate combustion in the engine for it to start. Over time it might cause reduced fuel economy and poor vehicle performance. If not taken care of it might clog catalytic converter and cause damage to ignition coils as well as oxygen sensors.
Failed catalytic converter. It converts harmful exhaust gases to harmless compounds to protect environment. It usually fails due to neglected maintenance of above mentioned things. It will eventually lead to harder acceleration and bad gas mileage. But in this case the replacement of catalytic converter is the most expensive from the whole list and can reach up to 2000$.
Surely, there might be other causes for the check engine light but that is nearly impossible to determine without vehicle diagnostic and scanning. So feel free to stop at Z Auto Service for your complimentary check engine light check. We are always happy to help!