It’s the one thing that every auto owner dreads seeing when they get into their vehicle and crank the engine over: the check engine light, glowing there in all of its mystery and auspiciousness. Is there a major problem with my engine or is my vehicle’s internal computer just acting up? Have I started ticking down to a major engine issue or is this just something that will go away if I turn the vehicle off and then back on again?
The check engine light is a major automotive mystery and because of this, there’s a lot of tentative attitudes towards it by vehicle owners who just aren’t prepared to make a mountain out of a molehill. But, while keeping your head is a good idea given the situation, doing nothing is certainly not the way to approach your unknown issue.
Narrow it down
Before you jump on the phone with your auto mechanic in Norwalk, OH in a blind panic, take a few seconds to see if you can deduce any problematic symptoms that may give you an idea of what’s going on under your hood. Use as many of your senses as you can and you’ll be able to paint a pretty good picture of what is or isn’t happening to cause the engine light to come on:
- Can you hear any rattle, clunks, rumbles, coughs or any other noises that just don’t belong in the symphony of vehicle operation that you’re used to? If yes, make a note; if no, carry on with your simple inspection.
- Smell anything that’s unusual, such as burning smells, foul odors or chemical scents? If yes, it’s a sign you’ve sprung a leak; if no, continue your inspection.
- See any smoke rising up from under the hood? If you do, turn off the vehicle and get away from it right away!
- Can you feel any unusual vibrations or pulses when sitting in your vehicle? Again, make note of those things if they exist.
Once you’ve done the above things and taken some notes, then it’s time to hop on the phone with an auto mechanic in Norwalk, OH, to give them a quick rundown of what’s going on.
The usual suspects
If nothing seems out of the ordinary with your vehicle, yet for some reason that pesky check engine light won’t leave you alone, it’s best to start thinking about the usual suspects: things that can trip a sensor, but might not have symptoms you’re able to see or do much of anything about. These items include:
- Failing or faulty oxygen sensors
- Loose or open fuel cap
- Catalytic converter problems or failure
- Faulty or burnt out spark plugs
- Obstructed airflow sensor
- Faulty ignition switch
- Dead battery
- Bad vacuum hose
Now, while something like a loose fuel cap or a dead battery is pretty easy to spot and take care of, it’s the other items on this list that could be giving you trouble. As mentioned above, it’s best to take your vehicle in to have it tested for errors, rather than just hoping the light will go off and everything will return to normal.