What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?

Did your "check engine" light come on recently? It's something that no driver ever wants to see. Sometimes, it can be the sign of bad news. In other cases, it's really no big deal. So, how do you know what the check engine light represents and what should you do about it? Those are the key questions we will answer in this article.

What Trips the Check Engine Light?

The check engine light can actually illumination for a number of different reasons. It is kind of a "catch all" warning attached to various sensors throughout the vehicle. It can be letting you know you have low oil, a dying battery, a failing oxygen sensor, a transmission issue, an exhaust/emissions system issue, a cooling system issue, a fuel system issue or, of course, an engine problem. In some cases, it may just be that your fuel tank cap or cover isn't closed properly.

Computer Warning Messages

Most modern vehicles with more advanced computer systems may display a more specific warning message in conjunction with the warning light. The vehicle may at least give you a better idea of where the problem is located. Older vehicles and less-sensitive computer systems may not tell you a whole lot. However, if the check engine light comes on along with another dashboard warning light like the oil light or battery light, you can probably narrow down the issue.

How to Deal With the Check Engine Light

No matter what trips the check engine light or any other warning light, you shouldn't wait too long to get the vehicle inspected by a knowledgeable mechanic. They can run diagnostic tests and connect directly to the vehicle's computer system to determine the source of the problem. They can physically inspect systems and equipment to find out exactly what's wrong and recommend the necessary maintenance or repairs.

What if the Check Engine Light is Flashing or Red?

If your check engine light is flashing or illuminated bright red in color, that is usually a more urgent warning sign. This is telling you there is something significantly wrong with the vehicle and it may be unsafe to drive. If this should happen, it may be best to pull over, turn off the vehicle for awhile and let it cool down. If the light continues to flash after restarting the engine, it's a smart idea to call for roadside assistance. Driving it any further could be risky.

If you are in Northern Delaware and your check engine light (or any other warning light) is on, call Fox Run Auto today at (302) 597-9205 or schedule an appointment online to get your vehicle inspected by our expert automotive technicians.


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