Why You Shouldn't Ignore the Check Engine Light

It sure can be annoying when your vehicle's "check engine" light comes on while driving. It may not feel like there is anything wrong with your car, and there may not be any serious issues to worry about. However, there are many reasons why a check engine light can be illuminated. It's not worth the risk to just ignore it and hope it goes away. Your best bet is to get your vehicle looked at by a trusted mechanic, who can perform a physical vehicle inspection and run diagnostic tests.

Why is the Check Engine Light Illuminated?

The check engine light is an extension of your car's computer system. The more modern your vehicle, the more advanced its internal computer, sensors and other components will be. Many of today's vehicles will offer a more specific warning message beyond just the check engine light illuminating. This can help you narrow down the problem before you even take your car to the shop.

Older vehicles may just have the check engine light that can come on for any number of reasons. It is essentially a "catch-all" warning that lets you know something might be wrong with the car. It could literally be an engine problem, but it can also be the transmission, cooling system, fuel system or exhaust/emissions system. It may just be a faulty/damaged sensor or simple electrical problem that is tripping the light. Perhaps you are just a little low on engine oil. 

What Are Computer Diagnostics?

The tricky thing is you generally won't know exactly why the check engine light is on until you have your vehicle checked out. Computer diagnostic equipment can connect directly to your car's computer and look for specific fault codes. These often identify the source of the problem (and thus the reason why the light is on), so that further inspections and tests can be run to determine the specific issue at hand. 

The check engine light is often a very helpful pre-warning system. It may pick up on a very minor issue that you can get fixed easily before it develops into something much worse. Simply ignoring the check engine light and hoping it goes away is usually a bad plan. You may end up waiting too long and having to deal with a much more expensive repair when things get worse.

What if My Check Engine Light is Red or Flashing?

If your check engine light is flashing or red, or if it is accompanied by a more specific and urgent warning message from your car's computer system, you definitely do not want to wait. This means there is a very serious problem that requires immediate attention. Your vehicle may not even be safe to drive in this situation, so be extremely careful if your car is trying to give you an emergency warning like this!

If your check engine light is on in Northern Delaware or if you think you might have some automotive issues worth addressing, count on the local auto care pros at Fox Run Auto. Call us today at (302) 597-9205 or schedule your service appointment online.


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