Every vehicle owner has seen a red or yellow light illuminate on their dash. While it’s not unusual for some dashboard lights to come on to signal the need for regular types of auto services—such as an oil change, brake check or fluid refill—you might have no clue what that light means or what you should do. Of all the dashboard indicator lights, the check engine light is the most commonly misunderstood. This light can mean a number of different things, ranging from a loose gas cap to serious engine trouble, but it does not always require you to pull over to the side of the road and wait for a tow.
Your best course of action is to get your car checked out as soon as possible. Ignore the warning lights and you risk damaging expensive vehicle components. It can also lead to poor gas mileage and extra pollution being emitted from your vehicle. Here’s what your car’s check engine light in Madison, TN is trying to tell you.
The meaning of the check engine light
As a part of your vehicle’s computerized onboard diagnostics system, the check engine light is in place to notify drivers that service is needed soon. Dashboard warning lights are connected to an electronic control system that tells the computer to turn on a yellow warning indicator when a problem is detected. Most check engine lights are visual, meaning a little engine symbol lights up, but some vehicles actually show “check engine” or “check powertrain” as text. Take your car to an auto shop that can scan the trouble code and give you a diagnosis.
What to do when it comes on
When the check engine light comes on, it will either stay solid or blink to catch your attention. This warning light can be yellow, orange or red, but regardless of the color, it’s an indicator of a problem that is best clarified by an experienced mechanic.
In some vehicles, a blinking light usually means a severe engine misfire. Unburned fuel may be getting into the exhaust system, where it is likely going to damage the catalytic converter (which is an expensive car part to replace). A check engine light that is holding steady generally indicates a non-emergency issue. Do schedule an appointment as soon as possible to rule out engine failure.
Tips for dealing with the check engine light
There are a few things you should do if this light comes on:
- Check the gas cap: In some cases, all you need to do is tighten the gas cap. Give it a day or so to reset. Note that some vehicles have a separate indicator light for this.
- Slow down: If a loss of power accompanies a blinking light, reduce your speed and load. This can help take pressure off the engine until you can get the car to the shop.
- Pull over: Is there a blinking red light? Stop as soon as you’re in a safe place and check for signs of overheating or low oil pressure.
Does your check engine light in Madison, TN keep turning on? Call Madison Muffler & Auto Repair today to schedule an auto service appointment!