Check engine lightYou’re driving down the road when your check engine light suddenly comes on. You get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. While you know it could be something simple, this warning light could mean something a lot more serious. Either way, you know it’s time to schedule an appointment with your preferred auto repair shop.

Check engine light basics

Your check engine light is also known as the malfunction indicator lamp. In layman’s terms, when your vehicle’s computer system detects something amiss, it triggers a fault code. This then causes the light to come on as a warning.

When it does come on, the light will either be steady or flashing. Ideally, you want that light to be steady. When continuously illuminated, this indicates there is no immediate need for repairs. Additionally, it gives you some time to check for DIY things before taking your vehicle in for diagnostic testing. For example, you can see if the light has turned on simply because the gas cap was not tightly closed.

However, if the check engine warning light is flashing, this indicates an immediate and very serious concern. If this happens, you should pull over safely and quickly, turn off the car, and call for assistance right away.

Most common problems

Here is a list of the most common vehicle parts that could cause the check engine light to turn on:

  • Ignition coils
  • Spark plugs and wires
  • Oxygen sensor
  • Catalytic converter
  • Mass airflow sensor
  • Fuel injector
  • Thermostat
  • Vacuum leak

While these are the most likely culprits, keep in mind that there are other possible causes. Your mechanic will review these with you at the time of service. These issues range in price and should all be handled by a certified technician.

What should you do now?

Since the check engine light can mean a range of issues without much to go on, it is best to reduce your speed and get your car into your trusted auto repair shop as soon as possible. Experts say that while many people take a non-flashing light as a sign it’s okay to keep driving, it isn’t safe and could lead to greater damage. Also, since there is no statistical data about how many miles it’s okay to keep driving once this light comes on, taking your car in sooner rather than later is your best option. Use our NARPRO shop finder to connect with an auto shop near you. We guarantee they will give you the quality service and care you deserve.

Don’t let your check engine light ruin your day … we are here to help so you can keep on driving safely!