Category Archives: car check engine light

What should I do about a check engine light? (& Why it might be on)


check engine light on dashYikes!  When the check engine light glows on your car dashboard, it’s natural to feel a little (or a lot) panic.  Why is the check engine light coming on?  How much is this car repair going to cost?  What’s the cost to find out what the problem is?

Don’t hesitate if the light is red.

For most warning dashboard lights, there are two colors: red and yellow. If your check engine light (or any warning light) is red, get your car to a local repair shop IMMEDIATELY.  The fact that the light is red means that the issue is significant and needs to be looked at immediately.  A yellow light is not as urgent; if your car has a yellow check engine light, make an appointment to get your car diagnosed by a technician.

Get your car in to find out the cause.

There are lots of reasons your check engine light could be on, but there are five very common reasons for a check engine light, such as:

  • Catalytic converter
  • Mass airflow sensor
  • Oxygen sensor
  • Spark plugs (or connecting wire issues-here are more signs of failing spark plugs)
  • Gas cap issue

These are the most common causes, but there are other issues that can cause your check engine light to come on.  If you want to find out the cause of your check engine light—what’s really the cause, not just conjecture—schedule an appointment so your mechanic can hook up your car to a computer and get the answer.

Talk to your mechanic.

If you need to wait to get the cause of your check engine light fixed, make sure you ask your mechanic how long before you should schedule an appointment.  Remember, they can’t see into the future, so they can only give you an estimation of how long you have—or before the issue causes other problems.  We know of one family that waited so long to replace their spark plugs that the catalytic converter failed, significantly increasing the cost of the repair.

Don’t procrastinate.

Don’t procrastinate and don’t ignore the check engine light. Schedule an appointment. Yes, we’ve all heard stories of drivers who went thousands of miles with a check engine light with no problem. However, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be one of them. You don’t want to end up stranded and waiting for a tow truck.