7 Reasons Your Check Engine Light May Be On

Here are the most common problems that trigger a check engine light to go on. While some of them are very basic and can be fixed in a jiffy, others can be serious. This is why you should let a certified mechanic take a look at your car once.

7 Reasons Your Check Engine Light May Be On

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We often don’t worry about what’s wrong with our vehicles. Even when there are minor hiccups, a “works just fine” approach tends to do the job and ignore the problems. 

However, at various times these problems can be very major and might as well affect your engine in the longer run. This is when the role of a Check Engine Light becomes very important. It is also known as a malfunction indicator lamp and became mandatory in 1996 to decrease vehicular emissions.

So, let us understand some of the most common reasons why your vehicle’s check engine light might be acting up.

7 Reasons Your Check Engine Light is On

Here are the most common problems that trigger a check engine light to go on. While some of them are very basic and can be fixed in a jiffy, others can be serious. This is why you should let a certified mechanic take a look at your car.

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1. The gas Cap is Damaged or Loose

A loose, missing, or damaged fuel cap can cause the light of the engine to turn on. Vehicles these days are quite closely monitored for their fuel economy and emissions. In cases, where the gas cap is left off, damaged, or does not maintain a solid seal, it will create a lesser amount of pressure inside the fuel tank.

This activates the sensor about something malfunctioning and the check engine light is turned on.

2. Faulty sensor connection

One of the most common reasons that your car’s check engine light is on can be a loose wire from the engine control unit to the sensor.

Yes, it’s that simple at times. In case the electrical harness is loose, frayed, damaged, or exposed, it can trigger the ECU to mimic a mechanical problem. It’s also quite common for the sensors to wear out after quite some time.

Most common sensor failures are related to fuel and exhaust.

3. Spark plug issues

Spark plugs are something your car depends on to fire it up. These plugs are connected by a complex wire system. When either of the two isn’t functioning well, the performance of your car might deteriorate.

4. Catalytic converter failure

Today’s cars are fitted with catalytic converters to convert the dangerous carbon monoxide released from the engine into carbon dioxide. This is an important part of any vehicle these days, keeping the stricter emission norms in mind.

A damaged or clogged catalytic converted can be a reason that your check engine light might be on.

5. Engine oil related issues

This is a rather tricky one to diagnose. The engine of your vehicle requires oil and lubrication to perform in top shape.

However, as time passes your engine’s oil gets dirty due to dirty oil, engine sludge, or a damaged oil pump which can cause the oil pressure to drop or rise higher than usual. Once this happens, the ECU notices this and tells it to the check engine light.

This, however, is an issue that needs to be taken very seriously considering it directly impacts your car’s engine.

6. Dirty air filter or fuel filter

While many car owners tend to get their engine oil and filter replaced during routine maintenance, the air filter is usually something that tends to get ignored.

It is usually recommended to change your car’s air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. These filters play an integral role in keeping the fuel and the air entering your engine clean, which allows your engine to burn and utilize gas more effectively.

7. Overheating

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Overheating of the engine can be a common reason for a vehicle to experience the check engine light turning on. However, in such a scenario, you might as well notice that other signs and lights of your car might be popping up too, or some smoke might be coming from the hood.

This essentially even be the situation that might occur after a long time of the engine light being on and ignored. As soon as you notice this happening, slow down and pull over on the side of the road. In case, the overheating doesn’t stop, step outside of the vehicle and call roadside assistance.

Conclusion: Contact The Mechanics When Engine Light is On

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It’s in your best interest to never ignore the check engine light on your dashboard. A check engine light is a tell-tale sign that there’s something wrong with the car. However, the catch here is you actually don’t get to know about the intensity of how wrong things might be with your vehicle. But, in case the light starts flashing then the problem might just be more serious than expected.

This is where a routine maintenance check by a skilled mechanic plays a vital role. You see, attending to the check engine light in a timely manner can help overcome potential long-term damage to your vehicle. Even if you feel that the car seems “just fine”, the issue with the car can resurface and lead to costlier repairs than it might save you in the shorter run.

It’s more of a gamble to drive a vehicle with the check engine light on, without getting it diagnosed professionally. Get your car checked regularly for a greater driving experience.

Don’t gamble with your car’s health. Trust Hoffmaster’s Auto Care for professional diagnosis and maintenance. Schedule your check engine light inspection today.

Hoffmaster's Auto Care
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Our mission at Hoffmaster’s Auto Care is to provide our customers with the highest level of car repair service and expertise, delivered with honesty, integrity, and a commitment to excellence. Hoffmaster’s Auto Care in Silver Spring, MD has been in business for more than 40 years. All our technicians are ASE certified. You can rely on our experience and knowledge for high-quality auto repair and maintenance services.

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