The check engine light is one of the least understood warning lights that is on the dashboard of your car. Seeing it come on could mean anything from a small issue to a major technical problem.
If you see your check engine light come on as you start your car, and immediately go off, your system is working exactly as it should. The light you see is your assurance that your check engine system is working properly and it going off means there are no potential problems.
The check engine system checks hundreds of different parts of your car every second. A problem with any of these parts can cause the light to come on.
If you jumped back in the car too quickly after pumping gas, it’s possible your gas cap didn’t close properly. Without that seal in place, vapors released while driving can damage your entire system.
Your car is equipped with multiple oxygen or O2 sensors that monitor the amount of fuel you car is using. A block to these sensors can lead to inaccurate information relayed from the sensors to your computer.
Your mass air flow filter measures the amount of air traveling through your engine. If this filter gets clogged you could do some damage to your catalytic converter or O2 sensors.
Spark plugs initiate the combustion in your engine. Faulty spark plugs can cause your engine to misfire and lead to your engine not starting.
Ignoring some of the aforementioned issues can cause major damage to your catalytic converter. If it stops functioning correctly, your car will have reduced performance and will not be able to pass an emissions test.
If while you’re driving your check engine light starts blinking, pull over as quickly and as safely as you can. This is usually a sign of a major failure in your engine and your car will not continue under it’s own power for very long.
If your check engine light stays on after you start your car, there is a problem that you need to get checked as soon as possible. Drive cautiously to a service center so that you can figure out exactly what is going wrong.
Regardless of if it’s blinking or solid, bring it in to your local auto repair shop for diagnosis and repair.