We’ve all had it happen to us. You’re driving along and all of a sudden your check engine light turns on. Some may ignore it and keep driving, some may pull over and immediately call their mechanic, and most drivers are somewhere in between. Here’s the truth: your check engine light comes on because your car is trying to tell you something. It’s your job – and really your mechanic’s job — to figure it out. If you’ve been trying to figure out what that check engine light is telling you, we’ve got 9 questions to ask to try and figure it out.
Is my gas cap loose?
That’s right, it could just be a loose gas cap. Your gas cap and valves in the gas tank re-circulate gas and keep it from escaping. If your gas cap is loose, it may cause you to lose fuel due to evaporation or cause your fuel system to circulate improperly.
Check engine light & Are your spark plugs worn out?
Your spark plugs ignite a mixture of fuel and air to create combustion which powers your engine’s cylinders. If your spark plugs aren’t firing right, it can cause an engine misfire which increases hydrocarbon emissions and can create weaker engine performance.
Is there a problem with your catalytic converter?
Your catalytic converter changes carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide which helps protect the environment. When your catalytic converter is faulty it can lead to reduced fuel economy and increase emissions which are harmful for the environment. Replacing your catalytic converter may not be the answer as this is usually caused by something else, for example, a blown head gasket which can force burnt coolant vapor into your exhaust.
Is your MAS airflow sensor dirty?
Your MAS airflow sensor determines how much fuel is needed to run the engine, and measures the amount of air entering the engine. This sensor can be susceptible to oil and dirt buildup so it may just need a cleaning when your check engine light goes on. If ignored, the air to fuel ratio can get off which can cause failures in other areas of the engine.
Do you have an oxygen sensor failure?
Your oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburnt oxygen in your car’s exhaust, and sends data back to the car’s computer which regulates the mixture of air and fuel that enters the cylinders. Your car can keep running with an oxygen sensor failure, but it will burn more fuel – and over time can damage spark plugs and your catalytic converter.
Is there a vacuum leak?
Your vacuum system helps lower emissions by routing fumes as gas evaporates through the engine. The vacuum system hoses can crack or dry out especially if exposed to intense heat or cold which can also cause cracked fittings and loose connections.
Are your ignition coils working properly?
Your ignition coils deliver electrical pulses to each spark plug. When the engine’s computer sends a signal, the coil releases pent up energy to the spark plugs where it ignites air + fuel mixture. Ignition coils can be prone to failure after several years and signs of failing coils include poor fuel economy, and decreased engine power.
Is your fuel injector okay?
Your fuel injector is a small, electronically activated value that regulates how much fuel is sprayed into a cylinder during an intake cycle. Your fuel has some impurities, and when combined with carbon from the combustion process can cause the miniscule holes in the injector tip to clog. If your fuel injector is completely clogged, then your injector can get stuck open and continuously leak fuel into the cylinder causing the engine to run roughly.
Is there something wrong with your engine thermostat?
Your engine typically runs between 195 – 220 degrees fahrenheit. Your engine thermostat regulates coolant temperatures. As temperatures reach the right zone, your thermostat opens to allow coolant to flow to the radiator. When you have a problem with your thermostat, it can cause overheating in your engine.
When your check engine light goes on, it’s a sign that something more serious could be wrong with your engine including the 9 components in the questions above. If your check engine light is on, we’d love to help. Simply call for an appointment, and our technicians will take a look and get you back on the road in no time.