If you are in your car and notice the check engine light is illuminated, you may start to worry. You likely start to wonder whether it will be an expensive problem. Fortunately, you can easily get a free check engine light reading at stores such as AutoZone. Plus, you can fix many of the most common causes with a few basic tools and parts.
What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?
The check engine light illuminates when there is a problem detected by the vehicle’s computer. Specifically, it is for the issues that relate to emissions and the powertrain. Therefore, your check engine light isn’t going to turn on because you need new wiper blades. Instead, the issue could be with the fuel/air mixture in the engine or with one of many mechanical components in the vehicle.
This may leave you scratching your head wondering how a single light can indicate all of this. The only way to determine which component is causing a problem is to check for diagnostic trouble codes. These are set by a system called Onboard Diagnostics II. ODB-II is in all vehicles built after 1996. Using a code reader, you or your mechanic can check for codes using a simple scanner.
Once you have the code readout, you will have a much clearer picture of where the problem is. Although, it may still require some additional troubleshooting.
What Is the Most Common Reason for Check Engine Light?
There are many reasons why the check engine light could be set. Many of them related to the air intake or fuel system. For example, one common reason is that the mass air flow sensor is faulty. This device determines how much air is coming into the engine through the intake.
A simpler but surprisingly common problem is that the fuel cap is faulty or loose. The fuel cap is important for maintaining a seal in the fuel system and reducing emissions. Simply replacing the cap is enough to fix the problem.
Some issues may also be with the exhaust system. For example, you may need to replace the oxygen sensor. This measures the amount of oxygen in the exhaust to tell the engine whether it is running rich (too much fuel), lean (too little fuel) or just right.
Is Your Check Light On?
There are three states for many check engine lights: off, on and blinking. If it is off, there is no problem. If it is on and steady, there is a problem, but it isn’t critically urgent. Just run the codes as soon as you get home and address the problem promptly. If it is blinking, there is a critical problem. Pull over and call a tow to take your car or truck to a mechanic.
Start Working on Your Vehicle
Working on your vehicle can be a lot of fun and a great way to save some money. If you take full advantage of your local auto parts store, you can answer every question from “why is my check engine light on?” to “what size windshield wipers do I need? Get started working on your car or truck today.