The check engine light, or the service engine soon light, has caused pain and panic in many car owners. When this light comes on, there is no need to panic. Now that the spring season is upon America, more people are venturing out onto the open road to shake off the winter doldrums. The illumination of the check engine light should not be a deterrent, nor should it be a source of fear or a reason to postpone spring plans. Once you learn the duties of the light and how to read it, you will be better able to gauge the type of repairs that may be necessary.

General Information about the Check Engine Light

The check engine light is a part of the onboard diagnostics system in your car. Cars are built with computers that monitor and control the performance of your engine, the mixture of fuel used, and the speed of the engine. It also monitors ignition timing and the shifting of the automatic transmission. Every problem that can possibly occur with the car has its own series of codes that are programmed in the computer. When a problem occurs, the check engine light will come on and the computer generates a code for the problem. Your mechanic can connect your car to their computer and read the error code message, which tells them which car repair to make. The confusion over this light arises over this light because it will illuminate for things as minor as a loose gas cap to something as major and serious as a blown gasket head.

Why Do I Need to Read the Light?

Learning how to read the light will help you determine if the problem is minor or major. If the check engine light comes on, check to see if the light is blinking or remaining steady. The difference will tell you if your problem is minor or serious. If the light is steady, then your problem is minor. It could mean something as simple as your rear side door is ajar or the gas cap is loose or missing. A loose or missing gas cap will cause you to lose fuel and expel gasoline vapors in the air. If the light is blinking, then it means that you have a serious problem and you should take care of it immediately. A blinking light could mean that you have an urgent problem such as low oil pressure, which could cause overheating. If that happens, you should pull over as soon as it is safe to do so and shut off your engine. If you have AAA, you can call a tow truck free to transport the car to a place where it is safe to perform car repair.

To Avoid Seeing the Light

If you want to avoid seeing the check engine light, you should make sure that regularly perform general car maintenance and regularly inspect your car each time you use it. The maintenance will ensure that your car is adequately lubricated and that all parts are cleaned and operable. A wheel alignment, tire inspection, and steering and suspension inspection will ensure that your car remains securely and safely on the road. Make sure that your gas cap is secured and your headlights and taillights are operating. Make sure your windshield wipers are working and that you have adequate windshield wiper fluid. Attention to detail will help you to keep your car in good shape to transport to all of your springtime destinations.