What You Should Do When The “Check Engine” Light Illuminates
Imagine you are driving down the road when you notice that your check engine light has come on. Now what? Nearly everyone has been there at one point or another. What you do next can often mean the difference between major car repairs and a dependable, smooth ride. To ensure you know what to do before this scenario happens, we would like to offer the following advice.
Is it Really a Check Engine Warning?
Many drivers confuse the “service engine soon” light with their check engine warning. A service engine soon light is a lettered warning that illuminates when you are due for service. Although it can let you know that repairs are needed, this is rarely the case.
A check engine warning on the other hand is a yellow or amber light shaped somewhat like a car. This light is designed to tell you when there are problems with your vehicle’s engine or related components. Rather than reminding you to do maintenance, it is often an early indicator that other repairs could be needed soon.
Pay Attention to Gauges
An illuminated check engine warning is often accompanied by other telltale signs that something is wrong. As such, you should immediately check the other gauges on your dashboard. Look for lights that indicate your oil pressure is low or that your vehicle is overheating. Either of these could indicate a more serious problem that requires immediate attention.
The same thing is true if your light is flashing rather than remaining solid. Most vehicles these days are equipped with warning lights that are designed to blink on and off rapidly when there is a serious problem. If you see a flashing engine light, it’s time to start searching for “car maintenance near me” or better yet a “Jiffy Lube® Near Me”.
Check your Gas Cap
Perhaps all your gauges are normal, and your engine light is only solid rather than flashing. It can still be worthwhile to pull over and check your gas cap. Often, a missing, broken, or ill-fitting gas cap will trigger a warning light. It could take something as simple as replacing the cap to make it go off again.
Take some Precautionary Measures
You’ve checked your gauges and gas cap and everything seems fine. Your vehicle isn’t making any unusual noises or emitting smoke from the tailpipe. In fact, it seems to be operating just fine. Is it okay to ignore the warning?
Not necessarily as there could be more than 200 things that would trigger a check engine warning. Some of them are serious, while others can be rather minor. You won’t know which one applies until you have had your automobile inspected. It only makes sense to play it on the safe side by doing the following:
- Reduce your speed. There is no need to put any more strain on your vehicle than necessary. By driving a bit slower than usual, you reduce the odds that your car will overheat or develop any further problems.
- Drop any towed loads. Towing puts an additional strain on your engine and transmission, which is something you do not want if you already have a check engine warning.
- Get rid of excess baggage. Travel as lightly as possible until you can get to your neighborhood Jiffy Lube® center to have your light checked.
- Continue to monitor your gauges. Pull over right away if you notice any of them going haywire or your auto starts acting funny.
- Listen for unusual noises coming from underneath your hood. If you hear anything out of the ordinary do not continue driving. Proceed to your closest Jiffy Lube® center instead.
- Watch for signs of smoke coming from your radiator or unusually heavy exhaust. Stop the car immediately if you notice smoke or it smells like something is burning.
Get your Vehicle Inspected
You’ll need to have your vehicle inspected at the first available opportunity. Don’t put this off as some lights will come on sporadically and then go right back off again. Unless the indicator is lit up, our technicians cannot scan your engine to determine a code. As a result, you may notice your light goes off, only to come right back on only a short time later. This can be frustrating and nerve wracking to say the least.
There may be times when it is better to have your vehicle towed in rather than continue driving. For example, you may already suspect you have an engine problem and having your light come on has just confirmed your worst fears. If you feel that something is not quite right, it’s better to play it on the safe side and call a tow truck. It’s easier to pay for an unnecessary tow bill than it is to fork over the money for expensive repair bills.
Visit Jiffy Lube® for Check Engine Warnings
Here at Jiffy Lube®, we perform diagnostic exams on all makes and models of vehicles. We’ll let you know what is causing your light to come on in the first place. Some common problems that may trigger a check engine light include:
- Faulty spark plugs and/or wires
- Oxygen sensor failure
- Vacuum leaks
- Catalytic converter issues
- Bad ignition coil
- Defective airflow sensor
- Dead battery
After finding the code, we will recommend a course of action and give you an estimate for repairs. Fortunately, we are able to take care of many problems while you wait, allowing you to continue your travels. Our goal is to get you back on the road as safely and quickly as possible. Our knowledgeable technicians will provide expert service to ensure your job is performed just right.
Do not Ignore a Check Engine Light
A check engine warning does not necessarily mean there is something seriously wrong with your car. That doesn’t mean it is okay to ignore the light and continue driving. Just because you have successfully ignored such a light in the past does not mean you will be lucky this time.
By having your car checked out as soon as possible, you can often avoid more expensive repairs. Some of those repairs could even force you to scrap your vehicle. Use your smart phone to look for car maintenance near me so you can find your nearest Jiffy Lube® shop as soon as possible.