My “Check Engine” Or “Service Engine Soon” Has Light Come On. What Does This Mean?

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If your “check engine” or “service engine soon” light illuminates while you are driving or refuses to turn off when you first start your vehicle do not panic. While these lights are an indicator of trouble, the issue might be minor. Either way, it’s best to drive your automobile to a mechanic right away rather than ignore the warning. We here at Benton Road Auto Repair can hook up your vehicle to diagnostic equipment to isolate the reason for the light.

Dashboard Warning Light Function

The 1980s ushered in the computer age and automobile technology jumped on the bandwagon. Engineers designed onboard vehicle computer systems to control and monitor automobile performance from the moment you ignite the engine to the second you turn it off. These computers regulate numerous variables, including engine speed and ignition timing. Today’s onboard computers are so advanced, they even tell your automatic transmission to shift gears.

The computer has another job and that is to correct anything in the electronic control system. When it can’t correct something, such as the fuel mixture, your check engine or service engine soon light will illuminate on the dashboard to alert you something is wrong. On some dashboards, the light might say “check powertrain” instead, or it will be the word “check” with an engine picture. Once the light is illuminated, the onboard computer stores an error code.

Diagnostic Check

This is where the mechanic comes in. A mechanic has diagnostic equipment that hooks up to your vehicle’s onboard computer to read the error codes. This enables the technician to isolate the reason why your dashboard warning light illuminated and what will be required to fix the problem. If the light turned on and remained steady, the issue shouldn’t be too bad. If the light turned on and blinks, your engine could be misfiring and pumping fuel into the exhaust system.

Aside from that scary scenario above, common problems that trigger a check engine or service engine soon light to come on include

  • Catalytic converter problems
  • Failing oxygen sensor
  • Loose gas gap
  • Mass air flow sensor failure
  • Worn spark plugs or wires

If you just filled up your fuel tank and your check engine light comes on, pull over when it’s safe to do so, put on your hazard lights, and check to make certain you secured the gas cap. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, bring your vehicle in for a diagnostic check.

Don’t Take Chances

The longer you wait to resolve the check engine or service engine soon light issue the more damage you may cause to your vehicle. Don’t wait. Call Benton Road Auto Repair in Bossier City, LA, today at 318-746-9142.

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