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What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?


Nobody needs to be a master mechanic to know that a problem with a car’s engine could result in expensive repair bills. That’s why people need to be concerned when their automobile tells them something could be wrong with the powerplant. So, what does the Check Engine light mean? Actually, there are a lot of reasons the warning light could be activated. Some of them aren’t a big deal, while others are far more serious and may require immediate attention from the experts at the Southside Dodge Service Department. Let’s take a look at some information that might be helpful.


READ MORE: Can You Use Aftermarket Parts For Repairs?


Reasons For a Check Engine Light to Come On


Automakers have become very adept at developing onboard diagnostic systems for cars, trucks, and SUVs. Modern dashboards are filled with all kinds of warning lights, if not actual systems that will send an alert to the driver letting them know something is wrong. Most of these warning lights are pretty straightforward. However, the Check Engine Light is kind of a catch-all for anything that isn’t related to the battery, engine oil or brakes, which often have their own warning lights. The primary reasons a Check Engine Light comes on include:


  • Loose/Broken Gas Cap – The gas cap on your vehicle’s gas tank needs to create a tight seal to work properly. If the cap isn’t screwed properly or the o-rings have deteriorated, the fuel could evaporate and activate the Check Engine Light.
  • Bad Spark Plugs – Gasoline needs to be ignited to create the power to move the vehicle. If the spark plugs are fouled or failing, the increase in dirty emissions can trigger the warning light.
  • Faulty Catalytic Converter – A catalytic converter scrubs the exhaust gases of carbon monoxide before it’s released into the atmosphere. If it starts to fail and emissions are too dirty, the check engine light will be among the first clues.
  • Failed Sensors – An internal combustion engine uses a very specific fuel-to-air ratio to create the necessary combustion. That mixture is monitored by the mass airflow sensor, which is prone to getting dirty. This is another common cause of a check engine activating.


How Serious is a Check Engine Light?


As you can see, there are several issues that can trigger a Check Engine Light. So, there is no accurate way to estimate the potential cost of a repair. The best advice we can give owners is to heed the warning and make an appointment with our service department right away. Every vehicle comes with a data port located below the dashboard for the OBD-II diagnostic system. These devices are inexpensive and easy to use to help people get an idea of the problem and an approximate cost of probable repairs.


Make an appointment with the Southside Dodge Service Department, today, if it’s time for a seasonal inspection or just time for some regularly scheduled maintenance.


Categories: Service