Why Did My Check Engine Light Turn On?
Your Monday morning starts out pretty uneventful as you walk out to your car to leave for work. You start the car and as though in a trance you back the car out of the driveway and start down the street. About half way to work you notice the dreaded check engine light is on. How long has it been that way? Did it just turn on? Why is it turning on now?
Check engine lights may indicate any number of issues, and they're not all scary. Don't let it ruin your Monday just yet, here are a few causes for the engine light turning on, some of which you can check yourself.
Sometimes when we're in a hurry we don't always tighten the gas cap all the way down and this can allow fuel vapors to seep out of the tank, causing the light to turn on. If your car isn't smoking or driving strangely and you've pulled over in a safe spot, check to see if your gas cap is lose or cracked, then see if your light turned off. If your gas cap is cracked or is in need of replacement you can pick one up at your local auto parts store around $5.
The oxygen sensor observes how much fuel is burned and reports back to the computer. A faulty sensor will cause a noticeable drop in gas mileage and will increase emissions. If it's time to take your car in for emission testing you may have a difficult time passing. This isn't a problem that you want to wait to fix. While replacing an oxygen sensor will put you back about $200, not replacing it will eventually cause your catalytic convertor to break, and that's a hefty price tag. Refer to your owner's manual to see if it's something you feel comfortable fixing on your own.
Mass Airflow Sensor
The mass airflow sensor calculates the amount of air that comes in through the engine and tells the computer to add fuel accordingly. The air filter should be replaced once a year to prevent the MAF sensor from failing. Your gas mileage will be negatively affected, but won't cause any major damage for a week or two. Depending on the car, the cost to replace the mass air filter sensor is about $250 (not including labor). It isn't too difficult to do on your own, but a shop could turn it around quickly and potentially have you back on the road same day.
Cars that are over 15 years old need to have their spark plugs replaced every 25k miles. Younger cars' spark plugs don't need to be replaced until closer to 100k. This is something that you should replace right away, and it's easy to do yourself or have done when you're getting your regularly scheduled maintenance performed at your local auto shop.
Has your check engine light been on for a while? Or did you have it turned off thinking you would have the problem fixed soon? Catalytic converters don't usually fail when the engine is taken care of with regular maintenance, and when they do it's often because of the oxygen sensors or spark plugs. The cost to replace your catalytic converter is closer to $2,000, and isn't something you can fix on your own. Preventative maintenance is key to keeping your car running and your wallet happy.
There's a huge list of reasons your check engine light may have blinked on, but these are a few of the most common for you to check. Enjoy your Monday and take your car into your local Auto Repair Services shop where they can diagnose your vehicle. If you're in the Centralia area and your check engine light is telling you there's something wrong, bring your car to Transmissions Unlimited for engine diagnostics by ASE certified auto mechanics. Visit our website for a valuable coupon or call (360) 529-5589 to schedule an appointment today. Come See Us for Check Engine Light Diagnostics Call 360-736-2548 Today to Learn More!
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Written and Published By MORBiZ