What Does Your Check Engine Light Mean?

If there’s one thing that can produce a feeling of immediate dread, it’s when the “Check Engine” light comes on in your car. Perhaps the most unsettling thing about the Check Engine light is that it represents a wide range of issues, so you don’t quite know whether the problem is minor (e.g., a loose gas cap) or something major (e.g., an expensive sensor went bad). Whether the problem turns out to be minor or major, you’re going to have to visit a Sterling auto repair shop in order to pinpoint the issue and take whatever steps needed to get the light turned back off.

Also known as the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL), the Check Engine light is basically a signal activated by your car engine’s on-board computer to let you know when something is not quite right under the hood. Most new cars are equipped with a small yet seemingly omniscient computer that carefully monitors hundreds of different areas of your engine to make sure that everything is running smoothly. While your local Sterling check engine light repair shop can definitely diagnose the issue, there are a couple of simple measures you can take to get an initial impression of what the problem might be.

The majority of modern cars (e.g., manufactured after 1996) come equipped with a system known as OBD II (On-Board Diagnostics), which outputs certain information according to a standardized system of codes known as Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC). The connector to this OBD II system is typically found under the steering column of your vehicle, and is fairly easy to access. Your mechanic will use an OBD code reading device to get more information regarding what type of issue your car might be having. Having this system in place means that your car will essentially “tell” you when there’s a problem with your engine.

Depending upon the manufacturer, Check Engine lights can be yellow, orange or amber. If the light stays constant and doesn’t blink on and off, this is an indication that the car needs to be taken in for a diagnosis to determine the exact issue. If the check engine light begins to blink on and off (much like your hazard lights), this is a sign of a more serious problem. Either way it goes, it’s always a good idea to take your car into a professional Sterling auto repair shop and maintenance shop in order to perform a diagnostic test; this can help save you lots of money–and stress–in the long run, as it may prevent a future engine malfunction, or a complete breakdown.

*Always check your owner’s manual for your vehicle model’s specific instructions before attempting any type of repair.

Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto provides automotive safety and auto repair information for the sole purpose of educating the community at large. “We believe an educated customer is a loyal customer.” 8 Locations throughout the Northern Virginia area including locations in Fairfax, Leesburg, Falls Church, Sterling, Herndon, Winchester, Purcellville, and South Riding.

Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto: http://www.hoganandsonsinc.com

Copyright Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto 2015

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