Check Engine Light
When you’re driving down the road and your check engine light suddenly illuminates your dashboard, a sense of panic tends to occur. But don’t let this little glow get under your skin! Your check engine light is actually there to help you, and the friendly, expert mechanics at Ulmer’s Auto Care Center are here to show you how.
What does it mean when the “Check Engine Light” or “Service Engine Soon” light turns on?
Your car’s check engine light is a warning light that indicates that something is wrong – or that something is about to be wrong – with your vehicle. Cars have become increasingly dependent on their computer systems, or on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems, to keep them running at the optimal efficiency. As you drive, your car’s OBD system is constantly checking the various computers that control a majority of your vehicle’s systems, including engine idle speeds, fuel mixtures, emissions and engine performance.
Whenever the computer controls cannot adjust to automatically correct a problem, the OBD system records a trouble code and illuminates the check engine light on your dashboard. Your automobile can detect both major malfunctions and small issues, triggering the warning light to alert you before more serious damage or performance issues occur. That’s why it’s always important to pay attention to your service engine soon light – this is your car is trying to tell you something and keep your vehicle from breaking down completely!
My check engine light is on, when do I need to get my car checked?
As with most car maintenance issues, failing to get the problem resolved in a timely manner will result in more major complications. Ideally, as soon as your check engine light turns on you should make an appointment with your trusted auto repair shop in Milford or Anderson, OH to get it looked at – even if you don’t notice any other car issues or symptoms. Try to have a professional mechanic take a look at your vehicle within a couple of days. If your check engine light is flashing, however, you need to stop driving, pull over in a safe location and call a tow truck immediately. In most late-model vehicles, if your OBD system finds an issue that requires immediate attention, your check engine light will flash or turn from yellow to red. Do not keep driving if this occurs!
My mechanic turned it off, but it came back on a week later. Why?
Your car’s OBD system is continuously performing a variety of “self-tests” to ensure that your automobile is working as efficiently and cleanly as possible. When a potential problem or failure is identified, the system will try to correct it on its own, so many of these tests are then delayed or turned off. This is especially true if you have continued driving around with your car’s check engine light illuminated for several days. While your mechanic may have corrected one of the issues, your OBD system could find another problem a week later for something that it was delaying testing for previously.
After you bring your car in for check engine light repair services, the OBD system resumes its self-testing process. Some of these tests require specific conditions to provide thorough and accurate results; for example, one test requires an 8 hour delay before starting the engine, while another test requires that the vehicle be driven above 50 mph for several minutes to complete accurately. Because these tests have to be delayed until the proper conditions, your check engine light may not indicate there is any error when you bring your car in for service, but the check engine light may come on a few days later. If this does happen, simply bring your car back to the shop and your technician will be able to read the trouble codes again and help you out.
The check engine light has caused a lot of confusion among drivers. If you ever have any questions or concerns about your car’s check engine or service engine lights, please don’t hesitate to ask any of the friendly auto repair specialists at Ulmer’s Auto Care Center! Simply stop by, give us a call or easily schedule your appointment online with us today and we’ll get you and your vehicle safely back on the road in no time.