When it comes to vehicle maintenance, things are getting both trickier and easier at the same time. With the advances in auto engines every year, your engine is able to perform better and more smoothly. On the other hand, the engine is also becoming more complex and more computerized where not just anyone can “pop the hood” and take a look. More and more vehicles are requiring specific computers that read the engine and diagnose the engine problem when your check engine light comes on, which can usually be done at your local auto parts store.
With these engine technology advances, the dashboard of your vehicle is also becoming more complicated and harder to immediately understand. Some dashboard lights turn on that you never thought were there before, others come on only periodically. With the complexity of the engine, one light could mean a variety of things. It could be a simple fix or something more complex that requires fixing right away to prevent further engine damage. Check out these top reasons your service engine light will come on:
Loose or Faulty Gas Cap
If your dashboard light comes on because of this issues, the fix is relatively simple. Sometimes, you just didn’t screw on the gas cap tight enough the last time you pumped gas. Other times, your gas cap could be cracked or failing. If this is the case, it’s important to take care of it because you could loose fuel and your fuel filters could be clogged because your gas tank is no longer air tight. When your check engine light comes on, check your gas cap first to make sure it’s not one of the easiest fixes before taking it in to the shop.
Malfunctioning Spark Plugs or Plug Wires
This repair can be significantly more costly than replacing a cracked gas cap if you take it to a mechanic. However, you can replace them yourself and only pay between $2 and $20 for a spark plug. These spark plugs and plug wires are important because they affect the performance, reliability and fuel economy of your vehicle. How can you tell that your spark plugs may be the cause of your check engine light that greets you every time you turn your car on? Lookout and listen for rattling or pinging from your car, if it’s hard to either start or smoothly accelerate your auto or if you realize that you are filling up at the pump more often than usual.
Replace Oxygen Sensors
Your oxygen sensors are a part of your automobiles exhaust and emissions control system. Naturally, if there is a breakdown in a system, the system won’t perform as well as it could. If this is the problem, then your engine burns more fuel than it actually needs and you could experience up to a 40% loss of fuel economy. Moreover, this can affect your spark plugs and catalytic converter (one of the most costly repairs to be done). You may be able to replace your oxygen sensors yourself, however, depending on where your oxygen sensors are located, you may need to take it in to be looked at. Faulty oxygen sensors are probably the most common problem that triggers your check engine light to turn on, but unfortunately, it could cost, on average, around $200.
Problem Catalytic Converters
Catalytic converters are an expensive part to replace. They cost on average about $1100 and can usually point to other problems with your car’s engine. This is important not only for the proper functioning of your car, but it will also not pass an emissions test. Some important indicators that there is something wrong is if your engine backfires, jerks while driving or does not accelerate when you press on the accelerator. This would definitely cause the check engine light to go off and it should be checked right away after you have ruled out the other simpler fixes.
The causes of the illumination of your service engine light varies. Many argue that because the causes vary so widely, the check engine light ought to be changed so that automobile owners stop playing guessing games and know exactly what is wrong. As it stands now, the icon doesn’t seem to be in the process of improvement and so owners should be aware of what some of the top causes are for it to come on. Know as much as you can about your dashboard lights before you hand it off to a mechanic. You could save a lot of money and time by checking for some of the simpler fixes and feel more confident that the right service is performed on your auto.