What Does The Check Engine Light Mean In A Car
Posted in: Engine & Drivetrain

What Does The Check Engine Light Mean In A Car?

When you are driving your car & truck, suddenly a yellow light comes from an engine icon. This light is tied to your car dashboard’s cluster, called a check engine light. It is programmed to turn on when OBD(an Onboard diagnostic system) has detected some problems in the vehicle. Maybe your vehicle was caused by some simple issue such as a loose gas cap, faulty oxygen sensor, spark plug, or something severe as the faulty catalytic converter. Sometimes, the triggered problems of checking engine lights are basic & easy to fix. But in most cases, this light blinks due to major engine problems that you shouldn’t ignore. This light has an important function is to alert motorists to potentially serious problems under the hood. Here, we are going to discuss some of the reasons for blinking the light & what to do when it turns on.

What is a check engine light?


This check engine light is a part of your onboard diagnostics system. In today’s scenario, all vehicles are manufactured with computer programming. Thus computers have fully controlled & monitored vehicle performance, regulating the engine speed, fuel mixture ignition timing. When this programmed unit detects any kind of issue occurred in your vehicle. Then the computer generates electrical signals to turn on the engine light. In addition to turning on the light- the computer stores a trouble code in its storage, this unique code identifies the problem such as a malfunctioning sensor or misfiring engine. The unique code just points you to the occurrence of vehicle issues that you should fix.

What can cause the check engine light to come on?

The check engine light alerts you that your vehicle needs attention. It may be triggered by some factors that affect your monitored system. Let us discuss the reasons or the factors that are responsible for turning on the yellow light.

  1. Engine problem: Sometimes the engine problem leads to turning on the engine light. The vehicle comprises some control module that helps in monitoring the engine operation via a collection of sensors. When these sensors detected some issues, it triggered the light.
  2. Spark Plugs: Worn spark plugs leads to the engine light warning. On occurring the issues in the spark plug, then the vehicle’s ignition system leads to the turn on the engine light. At that time, you should replace the plugs with new ones. The spark plugs should be changed after 100,000 miles. stalls are another warning single of spark plug trouble.
  3. Catalytic converter failure: Catalytic converter is the main part of your vehicle exhaust system. It helps in transforming carbon monoxide (CO) which is a dangerous combustion byproduct into carbon dioxide(CO2). Carbon dioxide is also dangerous but it does not have the same immediate health risks as CO. However if your catalytic converter fails, then the car generates humidity & heating over the components. Also, this overheating has a bad impact on vehicle performance & fuel economy.
  4. Oxygen sensors: Oxygen sensors are the crucial parts that measure how much-unburned oxygen is in your automobile exhaust. If the amount of unburned oxygen presented in your vehicle is very low, then it could damage the engine parts. The faulty oxygen sensor returns a check engine light warning every time. It is one of the most common reasons for turning on the engine light.
  5. Transmission problems: Transmission plays a vital role in transferring & manipulating the engine power to drive wheels. It offers different speed ratios to regulate the speed & power transmitted. As the two assemblies work together closely, then it is natural for any transmission issue to occur. Thus, if the control module detects any kind of transmission issue, it leads to turning on the engine light. If there is any issue comes with transmission, then try to fix it immediately. If the transmission problems can’t resolve through repair, then you should choose the transmission replacement. Choose used transmission as transmission replacement for your vehicle. As these transmissions available at affordable prices.
  6. Ignition system problems: The ignition system comprises spark plugs, coil packs every component that needs to ignite the air-fuel mixture inside the engine. The control module monitors the ignition system operation through various sensors. And if they detect any kind of issue with igniting components, then it will show a check engine light warning.
  7. Misfires: The ignition system ignites the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. If the mixture of fuel & compression of air isn’t perfect then it may lead to a misfire. Several issues leads to the misfire, some of these are listed below:
  • Defective ignition oil: for identifying the defective ignition coil, simply move the coil & swap with another on the engine. If you have a misfire then replace that coil.
  • Vacuum Leak: Sometimes vacuum leak creates multiple cylinder misfires or lean running conditions.

How can I get my check engine light to go off?

When the check engine light illuminates, it may blink or remain constantly illuminated. The check engine light is of two types one is red & another is yellow. The yellow light indicates that you should check the problem & the red light indicates that you should stop the car immediately. This light may be turned on due to several reasons, possibly no matter what specific color indicator you are seeing. If the light turns on when your vehicle breaks down, then it is important you assess the situation carefully. You have to avoid on-the-spot repairs. Below we are going to discuss how you can get the check light in the car to go off.

  1. Inspect the serious problem that immediately needs repair: Check your dashboard cluster lights for low oil pressure & overheating. In that case, you should pull over & shut off the engine. If the light blinks yellow, then it means you need to investigate the problem. But if the light is red, then you should stop right now.
  2. Avoid Emission testing: If the engine light is on, then may your state’s vehicle fail the emission test. At that moment, your vehicle receives an immediate failure event for a loose gas cap.
  3. Reduce the speed & load: While blinking the engine light, if you notice any serious performance issue such as loss of power, then you should reduce the demands on the engine. It is also a good idea to stop towing trailers. It is a good idea to check to prevent expensive damage.
  4. Tighten the cap: If the light illuminates after the refueling, then you should check the gas capis tight or not. May the sensor detects a leak in the evaporative emission system.Thus to rest the light, you may take te several restarts of the engine.

Is it safe to drive your car with the check engine light on?


If the check engine light turns on while driving, don’t panic at that time. Just pay close attention to your vehicle’s performance. Do you hear any strange sounds or may your vehicle stop & surge while driving? If yes, then it’s not likely safe to drive with the check engine light on. Sometimes, the engine light disappeared with no other symptoms. But it is important to pay attention to your vehicle when the light illuminates. the check engine light illuminating means there is any problem in your emission system. Ans it is safe to drive for as long your car is not behaving strangely. Thus firstly you should repair the problem, otherwise, it may lead to the serious& expansive damage.

Which is worse flashing or solid check engine light?


The check engine light illuminates in two types i.e, solid & flashing light. Both lights indicate a serious issue in your vehicle. When you see a flashing light, then it shows that your vehicle needs immediate attention. At that time, you should contact the best mechanic as soon as possible to prevent serious damage. And in some vehicles, solid lights indicate an urgent situation. In such a case, the light appears red & orange in color instead of appearing yellow. It mainly concludes that you should always diagnose your vehicle & repair it when the check light is on, whether it is solid or flashing.

Can Low Oil Cause the Check Engine Light to Come On?

Some people think that the engine light indicates that your vehicle is running on low oil. But it is not true, check engine light blinks for different reasons & typically low oil level is not one of them. We know that the low oil level is one of the serious problems, but it doesn’t trigger the blinking of the engine light. Another light blinks for low-oil levels. If it blinks, then it means your vehicle needs more oil.

Last Words

We have given a little bit of information about the check engine light & its warning signs. This article is quite more helpful to know what to do when the light is turned on, it also gives a lot of peace of mind. Now if you are currently experiencing the engine light problem, then visit a professional auto repair service center & fix the problems immediately.

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