What to Do When Your Check Engine Light Comes On:
A Step-by-Step Guide
That glowing check engine light on your dashboard might seem like a sign of impending doom, especially if you're a new driver or unfamiliar with car maintenance. But don't worry! Mint Auto Service is here to guide you on what to do when your check engine light comes on.
Respecting Your Car's Check Engine Light
Your car's check engine light is part of its onboard diagnostic system. When it lights up, it's your vehicle's way of sending the message, "I need some attention!” Neglecting this signal can escalate minor issues into significant problems. So, it's crucial to respect the check engine light and address its warnings promptly.
If Your Check Engine Light Comes on While You're Driving:
When you're cruising down the road, the last thing you want to see is your vehicle's check engine light come on. The mere sight of this indicator can stir up thoughts of expensive repairs or a potential breakdown. This tiny little light can generate a lot of stress, so here's what to do:
1) Stay Calm. Understand that the check engine light is more of an early warning system. It doesn't necessarily indicate a total car disaster. Think of it as an invitation to acknowledge that your car requires attention sooner rather than later.
2) Assess the Light. Not all warning lights are created equal. A solid light typically means the issue isn't immediate or severe but should be checked soon. A flashing light suggests a more severe issue that needs immediate attention. Continuing to drive your vehicle with a flashing check engine light might cause damage to crucial components.
3) Check for Any Noticeable Changes in Performance. If your check engine light comes on while driving, your vehicle is trying to tell you something. Observe any deviations from the norm, like strange noises, smells, a lack of power, irregular handling, or an unexpected change in fuel efficiency.
4) Pull Over Safely if Necessary. If the check engine light is flashing or you notice any of the above symptoms, it's best to find a safe place to pull over. Driving with a severe issue could put you, your vehicle, and others at risk. In less serious situations, you may decide to drive to your destination, but make sure to plan a visit to a reliable auto service center as soon as possible.
5) Contact a Professional. Regardless of the seriousness of the check engine light's warning, it's essential to have your car inspected. DIY tricks and fixes may seem tempting, especially with less severe warnings. Still, they often delay the inevitable - a visit to the pros. If you’re unsure where to take your vehicle for a check-up, we invite you to one of Mint Auto’s three convenient Calgary locations in Bowness, Westbrook, or the Southeast.
If Your Check Engine Light Comes on While You're Not Driving:
If you're not on the road and notice your check engine light illuminate, avoid the temptation to ignore it. This light indicates that your vehicle is in distress, even if you can't see or feel the problem.
1) Check Your Gas Cap. A loose or missing gas cap is one of the most common and easily fixable issues. Before diving into more complex scenarios, ensure your gas cap is on tight. It may seem insignificant, but a loose gas cap allows fuel vapors to escape, potentially leading to decreased fuel efficiency and increased emissions.
2) Assess Any Noticeable Symptoms. If you observed the check engine light while stationary, assess any noticeable symptoms from your last drive. Any changes in your car's performance, strange sounds, or even weird smells can help identify the problem.
3) Use an OBD-II Scanner. If you have one at your disposal, Use an OBD-II Scanner. This tool can read diagnostic trouble codes from your vehicle's computer system. These codes can provide a clearer picture of the issue, which is particularly useful when communicating with your mechanic.
4) Schedule a Professional Inspection. Regardless of what the scanner reveals, you should still schedule a professional inspection. Experts have the right tools and knowledge to understand the problem's full extent and can provide the most suitable solution.
Basic Car Maintenance Can Prevent Warnings
Preventive maintenance is one of the best ways to keep that check engine light off. Regular oil changes, air filter replacements, and keeping up with recommended service intervals all contribute to your vehicle's health. Staying on top of these tasks not only helps prevent issues but also gives professionals a chance to catch and fix minor problems before they become major ones.
Remember - the check engine light isn't there to ruin your day. It's a helpful tool designed to alert you to issues before they become serious problems. Don't panic when you see it. Instead, follow the steps above and remember that regular maintenance can help prevent these warnings.
Mint Auto Service: Your Trusted Shop for Check Engine Light Concerns
Don't let the check engine light spark anxiety! If your check engine light is on,
schedule your diagnostic appointment today. Our certified Automotive Service Technicians
are ready to inspect and service your vehicle, getting you back on course in no time.
Request an appointment at any of our three Calgary locations:
Bowness | Westbrook | Southeast