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Check Engine Light - What is Causing it?

The dreaded check engine light, what makes it come on anyway? No it's not that your vehicle hates you and wants to break down at the most inopportune time! What is actually happening is your vehicles electronic control system (or computer) has detected a problem that it cannot adjust. Here are some of the most common reasons the light comes on.

Mass Air Flow Sensor- This is typically fails because it wasn't installed properly, but it can also trip your check engine light because it is dirty. A dirty air filter can also cause your Mass Air Flow sensor to act up so make sure you change your filter every year. What happens if you don't fix it well, there will be a decrease in gas mileage and eventually it will cause your car to stall.

Oxygen Sensors- Over time your oxygen sensors can get covered with dirt, grime and oil. If you don't replace them a dirty oxygen sensor can lead to a decrease in fuel efficiency, an increase in emissions and a failed catalytic converter.

Loose or faulty Gas Cap- If your gas cap is not tightened securely or if it has a crack in it it will cause your light to come on. If you don't fix it fuel vapors will leak out of your vehicle causing a reduction in fuel efficiency

Spark Plugs- Spark plugs fail over time and should be replaced every 25-30 thousand miles for older cars and ever 100,000 miles for newer cars. If you don't replace them your vehicle will jolt upon acceleration and you might notice a decrease in fuel efficiency.

Catalytic Converter- Catalytic converters usually don't fail unless you have not been following a regular maintenance schedule. If you don't replace them when they do fail however, your vehicle will not be able to convert carbon monoxide into emissions. It will also significantly decrease your fuel efficiency. Your Catalytic Converter can also become clogged over time and if it is not replaced it can cause your engine to fail!

Loose or Cracked Hoses or Manifold- Vacuum leaks can occur from deteriorated hoses or a leaky manifold. If left untreated your vehicle will experience poor fuel efficiency and a loss of power to your vehicle which can damage your engine over time.

There are many other issues that can cause your check engine light to come on these are just the most common ones we see. Usually it is safe to drive your vehicle to the shop, however if the check engine light is FLASHING DO NOT DRIVE THE VEHICLE, PULL OVER IMMEDIATELY! A flashing check engine light indicates major failure and your vehicle should be towed to the shop immediately!