Your check engine light may only be one light on your dashboard; however, it can represent various issues with your vehicle. It is essential to understand the range of issues your check engine light can represent. When the light is turned on, that means a diagnostic trouble code has been sent to the computer inside of your vehicle. That code will stay there until it is read with a scanner by a mechanic.
#1: Loose Gap Cap
One of the easiest to fix, and easiest to occur, check engine light issues is a loose gas cap. If you just put gas in your car, and you notice the check engine light come on, the next time you stop, open the gas door and tighten up the gas cap and see if the light goes off. If you lost your gas cap, you could easily pick up a generic gas cap for your vehicle at most auto parts stores.
#2: Bad Oxygen Sensor
Your vehicle has multiple oxygen sensors. The oxygen sensor is designed to help regulate your fuel delivery and fuel combustion system. When an oxygen sensor goes bad, it will trigger your check engine light. A bad oxygen sensor will have a negative impact on your fuel efficiency and the operation of your engine. When a bad oxygen sensor warning is read, the mechanic will have to figure out which oxygen sensor or sensors need to be replaced.
#3: Spark Plugs Failings
The spark plugs in your vehicle create the spark that is used to create a small explosion that leads to your engine creating power. When your spark plugs go bad or start to misfire, they will trigger a check engine warning. Misfunctioning spark plugs can make your car harder to start, result in your engine misfiring, cause your engine to run louder, and make it harder to accelerate. Bad spark plugs have an overall negative impact on your engine's performance and vehicle handling.
#4: Catalytic Converter Issues
A catalytic converter allows your vehicle to run much cleaner than it would without one. It takes harmful emissions and changes them into less harmful gasses so that the exhaust that comes out of your car can meet current emission standards. A catalytic converter helps your vehicle perform better.
You can still drive your vehicle if you have a plugged catalytic converter. Eventually, though, it will get clogged entirely, and you will not be able to drive your vehicle.
If you see your check engine light is on, you will want to go to a mechanic and figure out what the code is that is triggering the light on your computer. It could be something as simple as a loose gas cap, a spark plug that failed, a bad oxygen sensor, or a catalytic convertor issue.
For more information on check engine light repair, contact a local auto service.