Ownership What Does the Check Engine Light Really Mean?

04:00  11 april  2018
04:00  11 april  2018 Source:   Consumer Reports

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Consumer Reports tells you what the check engine light means and what you should do when you see it. “The customer is really , in the long run, potentially hurting their pocketbook by leaving that light on and ignoring it,” says Jim Collins, a national training team leader for Ford Motor Co. In some

There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing that check engine light come on — or experiencing some other intermittant automotive issue — and having to drop the car off for a day or two at the dealer just so they can hook it up, read the code, and charge you 0 for it.

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You’re driving along in your car or truck and suddenly a yellow light illuminates on your dash telling you to check or service your engine. If you’re like most car owners, you have little idea about what that light is trying to tell you or how you should react.

Call it the most misunderstood indicator on your dashboard: The check engine light can mean many different things, from a loose gas cap to a seriously misfiring engine.

“It doesn’t mean you have to pull the car over to the side of the road and call a tow truck,” says Dave Cappert of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, an organization that tests and certifies auto technicians and is based in Virginia. “It does mean you should get the car checked out as soon as possible.”

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What does your check engine light mean ? The real problem could be any number of things depending on the make, age, and condition of your vehicle, but in most cases you shouldn’t need to panic.

But do you know what it means when your vehicles check engine light comes on? Also, if you hate check engine lights , just click one of the share buttons below, it will eliminate them forever~well, not really but it is worth a shot right 😉.

Ignore that warning and you could end up damaging expensive components. It can also be a sign that your car is getting poor fuel economy and emitting higher levels of pollutants.

What the Light Means

The check engine light is part of your car’s so-called onboard diagnostics system. Since the 1980s, computers increasingly have controlled and monitored vehicle performance, regulating such variables as engine speed, fuel mixture, and ignition timing. In modern cars, a computer also tells the automatic transmission when to shift.

When it finds a problem in the electronic-control system that it can’t correct, a computer turns on a yellow warning indicator labeled “check engine,” “service engine soon,” or “check powertrain.” Or the light may be nothing more than a picture of an engine, perhaps with the word “check.”

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What Does the Check Engine Light Really Mean ? Many of us are guilty of driving with our check engine light on. If nothing seems to be wrong with the vehicle, we might assume that there’s no real reason to get it checked .

When you see your check engine light come on do you instantly fill with fear? Or do you ignore it and decide to keep driving until the car won’t move any further? The check engine light is really quite helpful.

In addition to turning on the light—known as the International Check Engine Symbol—the computer stores a “trouble code” in its memory that identifies the source of the problem, such as a malfunctioning sensor or a misfiring engine. The code can be read with an electronic scan tool or a diagnostic computer—standard equipment in auto repair shops. There are also a number of relatively inexpensive code readers that are designed for do-it-yourselfers.

The code will typically just point you in the direction of the problem, and still requires an experienced professional to fully diagnose and repair the issue. With the cost of a shop performing a diagnosis costing around $90, many car owners are turning to the internet to find the cause and remedy. This can work in some instances, but when in doubt, seek professional help.

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What to Do About the Check Engine Light

If the check engine light illuminates, it will either blink or remain constantly illuminated, depending on the problem. A blinking light, or in some cars a red light instead of a yellow or orange light, indicates a problem that needs immediate attention. Either way, you should have the vehicle checked by a mechanic.

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What Does the Check Engine Light Really Mean ? By Andre Zayas. When a car's check engine light comes on, it is a mystery to most drivers. It instills panic in many for good reason. There are times when that light can mean drastic problems in a car's engine system or other operating parts.

When a car's check engine light comes on, it is a mystery to most drivers. It instills panic in many for good reason. There are times when that light can mean drastic problems in a car's engine system or other operating parts.

In late-model cars, a blinking light usually indicates an engine misfire so severe that unburned fuel is being dumped into the exhaust system, where it can quickly damage the catalytic converter, leading to an expensive repair. If that happens, you should reduce power and have the car or truck looked at as soon as possible.

If the light is steady, the problem is not an emergency, but you should schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Today’s automotive computers often try to compensate when there’s a problem, so you might not notice deterioration in performance, even though your fuel mileage might be suffering and your vehicle emitting unacceptable levels of hydrocarbons and other pollutants.

“The customer is really, in the long run, potentially hurting their pocketbook by leaving that light on and ignoring it,” says Jim Collins, a national training team leader for Ford Motor Co. In some extreme cases, the car’s computer may reduce power for you as it tries to limit the risk of damage.

If the check engine light comes on, here are some tips on what you should do:

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If the check engine light blinks constantly, you need to have your car checked ASAP as it has experienced a major malfunction. This means that it's easy and cheap for mechanics and do -it-yourselfers to buy what's called a "scan tool" or download the fault code from the OBD-II system to a

Image Gallery: Car Safety An active check engine light can mean trouble. What does this mean ? Well, for starters probably a pretty annoying day. If your check engine light is illuminated, it's best to take it in for diagnostic testing, which can feel like a hassle.

  • Look for a serious problem that requires immediate attention. Check your dashboard gauges and lights for indications of low oil pressure or overheating. These conditions mean you should pull over and shut off the engine as soon as you can find a safe place to do so. On some cars, a yellow check engine light means investigate the problem and a red one means stop right now.
  • Try tightening your gas cap. This can often solve the problem. Keep in mind that it may take several trips before the light resets. Some vehicles have a separate indicator that warns of a loose gas cap.
  • Reduce speed and load. If the check engine light is blinking or you notice any serious performance problems, such as a loss of power, reduce your speed and try to reduce the demands on the engine. For example, it would be a good idea to stop towing a trailer. Have the car checked as soon as possible to prevent expensive damage.
  • Use built-in diagnostic services, if available. Many modern cars have integrated remote diagnostic capabilities, with the ability to report on trouble codes and schedule a service appointment. Today, many automakers—including Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, and Volvo—support remote diagnostics and the ability to schedule a service appointment.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2018, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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