Last week we briefly covered a few causes for a flashing “check engine or service engine soon light”. Next up, what about the check engine light that stays on after engine start up.
What makes this light so difficult to generalize, is the many reasons for it to illuminate. Depending on the year, make, and model, the trouble indicator can come on for transmission issues, practically anything related to exhaust emissions, and almost anything in between. The list seems endless even to the well trained.
Now that I have made this seem like an impossible task to take on; the on board computer (systems) are constantly monitoring sensors and “reactions to them ” as you drive to down the road. The system adapts to the lead foot driver in your family and Granny as she putts down the road as well. This is all in an attempt to keep the car running at the ideal ( read low emissions and performance ) output . Many older cars turned the check engine light on only when a sensor failed. The newer cars are now comparing ( according to programming ) expected results from what your car is literally doing, up and down hills, passing etc. This involves a lot if you stop and think for a moment. To name a few of the needed inputs for your engine to perform efficiently – air temperature, coolant temperature, elevation, where #1 cylinder is, engine load etc.. Of course, this all changes as the car starts, you accelerate down the road, warms up etc.. We wanted clean air and now even better gas mileage (we as in government) thus the “check engine light” to let you know something is amiss with your car. What would the point of having – more efficient transportation – if it is was not maintained.
We all panic a little when the “little engine” lights up. Before the computer system, we would drive the car completely unaware the car had an issue developing. Yes, the little light and the cost to “make it go out”, can be expensive as technology advances. Our cars would still be getting much less than 20 miles per gallon without the little amber check engine light, computer system engine diagnostic information, and the ‘stored digital service codes” to help resolve the issue…
Our most common check engine light to date is the ” I ran my car as I filled up and/or the gas cap seal was dirty or not on tight.” If you do not notice your car running poorly, check the gas cap for contamination and wipe off the seal and the sealing surface. For crying out loud, don’t smoke and be sure to “discharge the static from your body” by touching a metal surface before you perform this simple task. The system will continue to “test” as you drive your car. If the light does not go out after at least 2 re-starts, this most likely is not the problem.
The quick tip again – check your mileage if the check engine light comes on. If the problem is severe, you most likely will know it before or at the moment the light comes on.
As Always ” Great Service with a Smile”