Ask an Experienced Auto Mechanic in Gary, IN: What Does the Check Engine Light Mean? And What Should You Do About It?

April 7, 2017 8:21 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

As a driver, you have many responsibilities both on and off the road. You must pay attention to your surroundings when driving down the road, and at least twice a year you should take your car or truck in for fluid changes and checkups. Another thing you are responsible for is not ignoring the “check engine” light when it comes on. Maybe you’ve encountered this light before, and maybe you haven’t. But if you want your vehicle to continue running, then it’s important that you know what this light means and what you should do when it comes on.

Let’s talk to an experienced auto mechanic in Gary, IN about what your check engine light might be trying to tell you:

  • Your gas cap is loose: You’re either someone who twists the gas cap only one click or several to tighten it after a gas fill. A loose cap allows fuel vapors to leak out, as does a cracked cap. A leak can throw the entire fuel system off, causing poor gas mileage and increased emissions. If the check engine light comes on shortly after you’ve gassed up, stop and tighten the gas cap. Replace a cracked cap as soon as possible.
  • The catalytic converter needs to be replaced: Your catalytic converter (or “cat”) is in place to reduce air pollution caused by exhaust gases. It converts hazardous gases, like carbon monoxide, into less harmful materials. Even with regular maintenance, your catalytic converter can still fail—especially if you have an aftermarket cat. This means harmful emissions are getting into the air every time you drive, because a failing cat will not be able to convert the carbon dioxide. You need to replace your converter, otherwise you’ll have terrible gas mileage and likely won’t pass your smog inspection.
  • You might need new spark plugs and wires: The results of failing spark plugs are misfires. Since a spark plug is in place to seal the combustion chamber and provide the needed spark to initiate the engine, you may jolt a little when accelerating—this is the misfire making itself known. You need to remove the old spark plugs and wires and replace with new ones to end the misfires.
  • You need to replace the oxygen sensor: Unburned oxygen from the exhaust system is monitored by an oxygen sensor. If your sensor is faulty—covered in oil, for example—then it will not give the right information to your car’s computer and you might notice you’re getting lower gas mileage, while your emissions increase. Also, not replacing the sensor can cause problems with the catalytic converter.

While there are many possible causes of engine troubles, there’s only one light designated to pop on and warn you. And remember, your vehicle does not have to be old for the check engine light to make an appearance. When you are in need of a professional auto mechanic in Gary, IN, bring your vehicle to Miller Brakes and Mufflers, Inc. Call us today to schedule an appointment!

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