It has happened to every car owner time and again. You are driving down the highway, and you hear the ever-cringing ‘Bing’ followed by a check engine light. Although some check engine warnings are serious in nature, many of the problems can be diagnosed by the owner, and sometimes fixed on the spot. If the check engine light comes on, it is imperative that you act quickly, ultimately helping avoid catastrophic damage to your vehicle.
Visiting various websites and gathering information about the causes of check engine warning lights will help educate you on the potential problems associated with your vehicle. Most major vehicle repairs occur around 80,000 miles, but differ based on product quality and driving habits.
Below are some of the most common reasons for check engine warnings, whether they are real problems or just sensor malfunctions.
Top 5 Check Engine Light Problems
Gas Cap Issue
You may never think a loose or faulty gas cap could trigger engine warnings, but when the gas cap is disengaged, fuel vapors leak out and throw off the sensor system. When your check engine light comes on, and there isn’t a jerking nature to the vehicle, your first step should be to check the gas cap. If you cap is loose, you’ll see the light disappear after tightening – replacing a gas cap is very affordable and goes for about $5 at most auto stores. If you do not tighten or replace the cap when fractured, you’ll see a reduction in gas mileage and increase in emission creation.
Spark Plugs or Wires
The spark plugs in your vehicle ignite the fuel mixture, ultimately driving power to the engine through the combustion chamber. Additionally, the spark plug wires help move the spark to the plugs from the coils. Without replacing the spark plugs or wires, you’ll create additional problems with the catalytic converter or damage the O2 sensors, lowering fuel economy in the process.
Is your vehicle running hot? With a bad converter, you’ll experience a car running at higher temperatures than normal and is an advanced stage of neglect on spark plugs and wires. This will lead to poor performance, and emissions testing will be a failure. The catalytic converter helps protect car owners, other drivers, and the environment from carbon monoxide by converting it into CO2. Although CO2 emissions are harmful to the environment as well, they are bearable in comparison to carbon monoxide, which is deadly in heavy doses.
Probably the most common check engine light problem is the O2 regulator. Most vehicles have two O2 sensors – one in the front of the car and one in the back near the exhaust. The sensor essentially measures the amount of unburned oxygen in your car’s exhaust system then regulates the gas flow to the engine. Without a properly working oxygen sensor, your car is subject to future problems with spark plug and converter damage, as well as a huge loss of fuel economy. Your engine will burn more fuel than required and may decrease fuel efficiency by 40% if ignored.
Airflow Sensor (MAF)
Your mass airflow sensor is similar to the oxygen sensor because both measure and regulate necessary components to the engine. The MAF measures the amount of air entering the engine to determine the needed fuel for maximum efficiency. With a bad MAF, your oxygen sensor will not work properly and can ultimately create damage to the converter and spark plugs.
If none of these components are damaged, loose, or malfunctioning you may want to take the next step and call a local auto repair shop for advice. All of the previous components help the engine run more effectively, but if they all clear inspection, you may have an issue with internal engine parts or combustion components.
Matthew Hall is himself an amateur mechanic, doing everything he can to fix up his car and make sure it is running perfectly at all times. However, he cannot do everything on his own: for those tasks he cannot complete by himself he turns to experts such as those at Creech Import Repair. You can learn more about Matthew on Google+.