Anyone who has been driving for a while knows the importance of regular car maintenance in Madison, TN. The investment you make in time and money to ensure your car is in good working order is so worth it to avoid problems down the road, as well as having to pay for expensive repairs and replacement parts. That being said, it is not wise to ignore the check engine light when it lights up. This light is plugged into your car’s onboard diagnostic system, which is designed to blink or shine yellow, orange or red when it senses something wrong.
If your check engine light comes on, can you still drive the car? Here’s what you need to know.
Why the check engine light is on
A broken gas cap, sensor problems, old spark plugs—there are many reasons why this light might be illuminated. Here are a few:
- Gas cap issues: The gas cap closes up the fuel system to prevent fuel evaporation. If it’s missing, broken or not securely in place, the check engine light will come on, but you might also notice you’re having to go to the gas station more often to refuel.
- Oxygen sensor busted: A working oxygen sensor is needed to track the amount of unburned oxygen in the fuel system. If you don’t fix a faulty sensor, you could end up with poor fuel economy, a damaged catalytic converter or broken spark plugs.
- Catalytic converter failure: The catalytic converter is the part of the vehicle that transforms carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. A failing catalytic converter leads to issues like poor engine performance, low fuel efficiency and the inability to pass an emissions test.
- Spark plugs need replacing: Spark plugs and wires work together to ignite the air-fuel mixture in the combustion system. When a plug or wire is bad, the check engine light will come on to notify you of poor engine and fuel performance, or possibly damaged oxygen sensors, ignition coils or a clogged catalytic converter.
Know when it’s okay to drive with the check engine light on
Some drivers panic and become overwhelmed with anxiety the moment they see their check engine light come on, especially while they’re driving. The best thing you can do in this situation is not panic. Instead, take a breath and focus on how the car feels. Is it driving any differently than normal? Do you hear any strange sounds? Continue driving as normal if everything seems the same, but pull over if the car is lunging, smoking or making an awful noise. The check engine light means there’s a problem somewhere in the emissions system, but the car is safe to drive for the time being as long as it’s not otherwise acting out of character.
The check engine light won’t go off until the problem is fixed. Neglecting car maintenance in Madison, TN for too long can create more serious and expensive damage later on. Is your check engine light or another dashboard indicator light illuminated? Book a service appointment with a mechanic at Madison Muffler & Auto Repair today to get the problem handled quickly!