Check Engine Light

Lithia Motors, Check Engine Light
Help! My Check Engine Light is On, What do I do?
A few things can fill a modern motorist with dread and chill your bones right down to the narrow, like the feeling you get in the gut of your stomach when the dreaded "Check Engine Light" comes on. What does it really mean and why do we have that darned thing? Sometimes, the light just appears mysteriously, and you think, 'My check engine light is flashing' or 'My check engine light is blinking' or worse yet, 'My check engine light is staying on and glaring at me and it won't go off!' But what does it mean when the check engine light comes on, and more importantly, what should you do? What are the reasons for the check engine light? Can you still drive when the check engine light is on? Well, we're here to help to answer these perplexing questions.  

The annoying thing about your check engine light is that there's no way to know if the problem is minor or major until your mechanic hooks up a scan tool and reads the codes that caused it to come on. In any event, once your check engine light comes on, you should find out what is wrong as soon as possible. If the engine seems to be running normally (not running rough or misfiring) you can probably continue driving so that you can take the car in for service. Know that if you live in an area that requires vehicle emissions testing, your car will not pass an emissions test if the check engine light is on or there are any live trouble codes in the OBD memory. Remember that ignoring the check engine light can lead to more costly repairs later. 

Common Reasons for a Check Engine Light to come on

Generally, when the check engine light comes on it is because a problem occurred in the engine control system that affects emissions. Depending on the problem, the lamp may come on and go off, it might remain on continuously, or flash. Some types of intermittent problems will make the lamp come on only while the fault is occurring. When the problem goes away, the lamp goes off. Other types of problems will turn the lamp on and keep it on until the fault is diagnosed and repaired.  

The most common reasons for the check engine light to come on include:
  • Tripping sensors for the gas cap
  • Oxygen sensor
  • Catalytic converter
  • Ignition coil
  • Purge control valve
  • Mass airflow sensor
  • Fuel injector
  • Thermostat
But whatever the problem turns out to be, don't ignore that little amber light and don't place a piece of black tape over it. 
Today's cars are pretty smart. For many emissions problems that could cause the check engine light to come on, the car's onboard computer will often try to compensate by reducing power to the engine in order to reduce the risk of damage. You might not notice any difference in performance. However, you could be dumping unnecessary pollutants into the air by ignoring that little light.  

Sure, the little amber light with the engine icon could be something really simple such as a bad sensor or a faulty or loose gas cap. But it could also be something far worse. Either way, when your check engine light comes on, it means a trip to your local Lithia Auto Service Center to take care of the issue and get that little light turned off! Lithia Motors has your back. Our trained technicians will get that check engine light sorted and get you back on the road. 

Find a Lithia Auto Service Center and schedule a service appointment today.