What to Do When Your Check Engine Light Comes On

What to Do When Your Check Engine Light Comes On

At Martino’s Auto Center we diagnose and repair check engine lights using the most up to date diagnostic scan tools. In fact, we’re so good, we have it down to a science! The first thing you want to do if your light comes on is DO NOT IGNORE it. Schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Delaying just for a few days, or weeks could make the situation much worse. The majority of check engine light issues start out small, but will grow into larger, more costly problems over time. Here are a few examples, starting with the worst case scenario.

  • Failed Catalytic Converter: A failed catalytic converter will most likely only occur if the check engine light has been on for some time and has been ignored. This part convert’s hazardous exhaust fumes into less harmful emissions, but can fail over time if easier to fix parts fail first, which would most likely have triggered the check engine light to come on a while ago.
  • Bad O2 (oxygen) Sensor: This is one of the easier to fix parts before a catalytic converter will go bad. Your O2 sensor is located in the exhaust system, and monitors how much fuel needs to be burned. If the sensor fails you will probably notice a drop in your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
  • Failed MAF (mass air flow) Sensor: This is another sensor related to the catalytic converter. This one measures incoming air and calculates how much needs to be mixed with the fuel to ensure a proper running engine. A failed O2 sensor can lead to the engine running rich, which will also lower fuel efficiency and damage the catalytic converter.
  • Dirty Spark Plugs: One often overlooked maintenance item is spark plugs. You should check your owner’s manual as each vehicle will vary. Dirty or corroded spark plugs will most likely lead to misfiring, which will then cause the engine to run poorly, also resulting in poor idling and the possibility of stalling.
  • Loose/Broken Gas Cap: If you are lucky, the best case scenario is that you simply need to tighten your gas cap. Or, it could be broken or cracked, which will cause fuel vapors to evaporate from the gas tank, and trigger the check engine light. If that is the case, a quick trip to your local parts store for a replacement is in order.