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It can be quite alarming if you’ve had your car for a while and never experienced any issues, and then suddenly, Your Service Engine Soon Light or Check Engine Light Comes On. Nothing feels inherently wrong, but seeing the light causes some discomfort.
It might not be a severe issue, but leaving the light on without getting your vehicle checked out by a mechanic could lead to severe damage and high repair costs.
- The difference between check engine and service engine light
- What is a check engine light?
- Should I take the vehicle to a mechanic or do it myself?
- More Suggestions for DIY Troubleshooting and Engine Care
- Now You Know What to Do When Your Service Engine Soon Light or Check Engine Light Comes On
The difference between check engine and service engine light
It should be noted that the check engine light is not the same as the service engine light. Some car manufacturers have a special light that works on miles driven, counting down until the vehicle needs another service.
This light is not serious at all and is just a friendly reminder to take your vehicle for its next scheduled service.
What is a check engine light?
The check engine light can be found on the console near the speedometer. There are usually a few different indicators. The engine temperature light, check engine light, and brake light. Depending on your vehicle, there might be other indicators as well.
Yellow or red…
If the light is orange or yellow and not blinking, it usually indicates a mild issue that might be repaired easily. If it is blinking or red, it is vital to get the vehicle to a service center immediately since this signals a more significant issue that could overheat the engine and cause severe damage.
That said, most of the time, it isn’t too serious of an issue, and the mechanic will get it fixed relatively quickly. Here are some examples of common issues found when the check engine light comes on.
Faulty Spark Plugs
Your car might still be starting correctly for now, but faulty spark plugs could cause the car to struggle to start, especially in colder mornings. Replacing the spark plugs will help you avoid being late to work or being stranded in the parking lot of the local convenience store.
Loose Gas Cap
If the gas cap is worn out or is not screwed in correctly, it will trigger the check engine light. In my experience, the first thing to do is to check the gas cap before anything else.
The O2 sensor detects the emissions that come out of the exhaust. It then controls the amount of air that is mixed in with the fuel.
If this sensor is malfunctioning, it can cause the check engine light to come on. But if it is not working correctly, you might also experience acceleration issues. If a check engine light is paired with bad acceleration, checking the oxygen sensor first is a good idea.
A vacuum leak is when air enters the intake manifold from somewhere other than the throttle body. This means that somewhere there is a crack in the intake manifold. Or, one of the many seals connecting the intake manifold and tubes is worn out.
This is usually a cheap fix but isn’t as easy as, say, replacing a filter. Therefore, getting this done by a mechanic is a better idea.
What triggers the light?
The check engine light comes on because of the mismatched information that is given to the ECU. For example, if the oxygen sensor tells the ECU a certain amount of air needs to be fed in, but the amount of air read at the mass airflow sensor is different, this could make your check engine light come on.
Catalytic Converter Malfunction
The catalytic converter is the bridge between the exhaust and the engine. It is used to lower the number of harmful gasses emitted from the combustion chamber.
Not only will a faulty catalytic converter cause the check engine light to come on, but it could get you in trouble. If the vehicle is over the legal amount of carbon emissions, you could get fined.
Should I take the vehicle to a mechanic or do it myself?
Your check engine light coming on should never be ignored. But finding the problem is sometimes a simple thing to do.
There are a couple of things you can do if the check engine light comes on before taking it to the mechanic.
- Check the filters. This includes the air filter and fuel filter.
- Check the gas cap.
- Look for other issues like poor acceleration.
- Make sure it is not the service soon light by checking the vehicle’s manual.
If these suggestions do not resolve the issue, you are better off going to a professional to fix the problem. A lit check engine light should never be taken lightly since a simple problem could turn into an expensive one very quickly.
More Suggestions for DIY Troubleshooting and Engine Care
Want to avoid that sinking feeling when Your Service Engine Soon Light or Check Engine Light Comes On? Often, simply better maintaining your engine is all that’s required. I recommend investing in one of these Best Car Health Monitors to keep your finger on the pulse of your vehicle’s condition.
If you have a turbo engine, check out my Best Blow Off Valves Reviews and then read about the Best Engine Filters, the Best Engine Degreaser, and my Best Engine Flush Reviews for all your engine maintenance needs.
For rust and corrosion, these Rust Prevention Products, Best Rust Converters, and Best Rustproofing Paints are well worth checking out. You can also use a Best Automotive Multimeter to keep your battery under check and these Best Battery Desulfators if you see any corrosion developing.
You may also be interested in my Best Oil Additives Reviews, the Best Oil Additives to Stop Leaks, the Best Oil Additives for Older Engines, or the Best Oil Additives for Noisy Lifters you can buy in 2021?
OK, back to what to do when your engine light comes on…
Now You Know What to Do When Your Service Engine Soon Light or Check Engine Light Comes On
The service soon light should not cause you any concerns and is just a reminder; however, the check engine light needs to be taken seriously.
Whenever you see the check engine light coming on, finding the root of the issue is of the utmost importance. Checking yourself for minor problems or getting it to a mechanic quickly is the best practice.
Enjoy your vehicle and enjoy your rides.