Why is My Check Engine Light On?

There isn’t much worse of a feeling than starting up your car to see that dreaded check engine light come on. After the general shock, the first thought is What the heck is wrong with my car? and then maybe some general panic sets in -but there are some simple steps to find out exactly what is going on.


Check Your Gas Cap.  One of the most common reasons for your check engine light coming on is forgetting to put your gas cap back on (or back on tightly enough) after getting gas. Usually it’s as simple as making sure it’s on properly and tight – but if your driving abilities change, stop and call for assistance, do not continue to drive, there are other issues that needs to be addressed and you cannot continue to drive.

Double Check the Light. Sometimes it’s hard to read the lights on the dash, but be sure to double check the light to make sure it isn’t something simple like a low fluids light, like your washer fluid or oil. When in doubt, check your manual.

Solid vs. Blinking. A lot of people don’t know this simple trick, but if the check engine light is solid, that usually means it’s drive-able, but when it’s blinking/flashing then it mean’s DO NOT DRIVE and tow it to your dealership’s service center asap.

Check Gauges and Fluids. If you are driving and the light comes on, the best thing to do is find a place to pull over – and do it quickly. Even driving just ‘the rest of the way home’ can cause irreversible damages. Pull over someplace safe and check all gauges and fluids – make sure there are no leaks under your car and listen for odd noises. Checking for odd smells and smoke is also a great idea, if there is any type of fire you want to make sure to get everyone out of your vehicle safely and away from the vehicle.


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