The check engine light is perhaps one of the most confusing notifications your car can give you. This is because it can be triggered by a variety of problems, from a loose gas cap to faulty spark plugs. Here are some reasons why your check engine light might be on.
Your check engine light may be notifying you of faulty sensors. For example, your car’s oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburned oxygen in your vehicle’s exhaust system. Your mass airflow sensor measures the amount of air entering the engine to determine how much fuel is needed to run your engine efficiently. So if either of these sensors fail, they can:
- reduce the performance of your vehicle
- cause your vehicle to burn too much fuel (which is money down the drain!)
- damage your spark plugs or catalytic converter
Loose or missing gas cap
As crazy as it sounds, your engine light may be telling you your gas cap is loose or missing! This is an important problem to resolve, but it doesn’t take much time or money to fix. Just check that the gas cap is still there and secured properly.
Other potential issues
Other issues your check engine light could be notifying you of are:
- a problem with the catalytic converter
- engine overheating
- worn out spark plugs/plug wires
- low oil pressure
If your engine light comes on and you are unable to troubleshoot the problem yourself, take it to an auto parts store to have the car’s diagnostics checked. Resolving the underlying issue is the only way to get that check engine light to turn off.
A costly issue to ignore
Seeing your check engine light come on can be annoying, but it’s a valuable warning signal that should not be ignored. Some problems need to be resolved immediately, others may just need your attention soon. Whatever is causing the check engine light to illuminate may not be serious or urgent, but you should still figure out why it came on. Ignoring your check engine light can cause expensive problems long term.