There comes a time in every motorist life when you’re cruising down the road, wind blowing in your hair, music cranked up singing at the top of your lungs to your favorite track. Upon checking your speed, you realize the check engine light has just appeared on your instrument cluster. Panic sets in and we all fear for the worst. Fear not! Just because your check engine light came on does not mean your car is going to break down immediately. At the very minimum it could be a faulty sensor, loose gas cap, loose wire connector, or many other items. At the other end of the spectrum it could be a sign of a major repairs are needed. With that spectrum, so large it is not a light you want to ignore even if your vehicle seems to be running good at the time.
When the check engine light (CEL) is on you will want to observe it to see if it is steady or continually flashing? If your CEL is on steady then the chances are the computer on your vehicle has lost communication with one or some of the sensors that it uses to operate your vehicle. Your vehicle uses data from its many sensors to make changes continually to keep your vehicle operating at maximum efficiency. If your vehicle seems to be running as it always has don’t ignore the light. Ignoring the CEL can lead to more costly repairs down the road. What once was could’ve been an inexpensive solution can compound quickly if not handled in a reasonable amount of time. If your CEL is continually flashing you will want to handle it different. On some models the CEL light will be red instead of the normal orange or yellow color it normally is. You will want to get this checked out as soon as possible. This is typically caused by an engine misfire so severe that you could be damaging the catalytic converter which can be a very expensive repair. If this happens to you while driving slow down and get to your vehicle checked out as soon as you can. If you are concerned about damaging the engine you can always pull over when safe and have your vehicle towed to a repair facility of your choice.
You have 3 basic options to be able to read/scan the engine control module. The first option, go by and see your local auto repair shop you work with. They will have the ability to scan/read the code and give you a good idea what is going on with your vehicle. The auto repair shop has the training and knowledge to help you determine what needs repaired on the vehicle.
Second option you can purchase a scan tool that you can hook up to the ECM. There are many options for these on the market. They can be priced anywhere from $19.99-$7,000. In that price range you will find many different options with various different bells and whistles. You can pick them up at your local auto part store or you can order them from many different vendors online.
The third and last option if purchasing is not your preference you can always barrow one. Most auto part chains offer a free service that will allow them to scan/read your CEL. They will give you what the codes are and then it is up to you to know where to go from there. Word to the wise. The code is just a starting place to look for the problem it is not always the solution to why the vehicle CEL is on.
Many motorist make the decision to ignore the CEL because it is believed to be not a problem if the engine is still running good. That is a faulty assumption. Ignoring your CEL is the wrong decision. Do not cover it with a post it note or electrical tape. What once could’ve been a small easy repair can grow over time if this light is ignored.
If you find yourself in the Grass Valley/ Nevada City area and your CEL comes on stop by one of our locations and we would be more than happy to assist you.