Check Engine Light On?
Call it the most misunderstood indicator on your dashboard, the "check engine" light can mean many different things, from a loose gas cap to a seriously misfiring engine. Ignore the warning, and you could end up damaging expensive components. It also can be a sign that your car is getting poor fuel economy and emitting higher levels of pollutants.
If the "check engine" light illuminates, it will either blink or remain constant, depending on the problem. Either way, you should have the vehicle checked by a Brown Motors mechanic, although a blinking light or, on some cars, a red light instead of a yellow/orange light indicates a problem that needs immediate attention. In late-model cars, a blinking light usually indicates an engine misfire so severe that unburned fuel is being dumped into the exhaust system, where it can quickly damage the catalytic converter, requiring an expensive repair. If that happens, you should reduce power and have the car or truck looked at as soon as possible. If the light is steady, the problem is not an emergency, but you should schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Today's automotive computers often try to compensate when there's a problem; so you may not notice deterioration in performance, even though your fuel mileage is suffering and your vehicle is emitting unacceptable levels of hydrocarbons and other pollutants.
"The customer is really, in the long run, potentially hurting their pocket book by leaving that light on and ignoring it," says Jim Collins, a national training team leader for Ford Motor Company. In some extreme cases, the car's computer may reduce power for you, as it tries to limit the risk of damage.
If the check-engine light comes on, here are some tips on what you should do:
- Look for a serious problem that requires immediate attention. Check your dashboard gauges and lights for indications of low oil pressure or overheating. These conditions mean you should pull over and shut off the engine as soon as you can find a safe place to do so. On some cars, a yellow "check engine" means investigate the problem, while a red "check engine" means stop right now.
- Try tightening your gas cap. This often solves the problem. Keep in mind that it may take several trips before the light resets. Some vehicles have a separate indicator that warns of a loose gas cap before the condition sets off the "check engine" light.
- Reduce speed and load. If the "check engine" light is blinking or you notice any serious performance problems, such as a loss of power, reduce your speed and try to reduce the load on the engine. For example, it would be a good idea to stop towing a trailer. Have the car checked as soon as possible to prevent expensive damage.
- Have the code read and the problem fixed by a factory trained technician at Brown Motors.
Call the Service Advisors at Brown Motors who are ready to help you with all your automotive needs!