When there is a problem with your car, we normally notice this due to obvious symptoms of a mechanical problem, such as loss of power, jerking or strange noises. Sometimes however, the only sign that anything is wrong is a warning light on our dashboard. If your car engine light has come on, it is very difficult to know what the problem might be without more information.
However there are a few common reasons why your car engine light is on, and with the right diagnostic equipment, a modern vehicle will tell you exactly what has gone wrong. So if you want to know how to diagnose why your car engine light is on, and solve the problem, keep reading and let OneHowTo explain exactly what to do when your engine warning light comes on.
So, why is my car engine light on? The Engine Warning Light in you car is an indicator for a system that functions in a similar way to an emissions testing kit. Therefore, if the engine light comes on in your car you can be fairly certain that the problem relates to fuel consumption and/or exhaust emissions.
A steady light generally indicates a less severe issue while a blinking light can indicate a severe problem, but check your owner manual to be sure. Even less serious issues can seriously reduce fuel economy and often lead to bigger issues over time. If the light indicates it is serious, take your car to a mechanic right away and help them diagnose the problem.
Diagnosing the problem is dead easy if you have the right kit (or know somebody who has). The device you need is called a Car Diagnostic Tool or Code Reader. Most good auto-shops should have one to test your vehicle, or you can buy one yourself fairly cheaply if you would prefer. Just make sure the model you get is compatible with the make, model and year of your vehicle.
To diagnose the problem, all you need to do is connect the diagnostic tool up to the cars engine (the location of the connection should be in the vehicle's owner manual). Once you hook it up, the car's computer will tell the diagnostic tool exactly what the problem is using a code. Whilst it is irritating to have your car engine light come on, taking the right action at an early stage can save you serious cash by preventing damage to your catalytic converter.
Now you know how to diagnose the problem - below we go into more detail about the most common problems and how to fix them.
The first action you should take when your car engine light comes on is also the easiest. Check your fuel cap is securely attached and that there are no cracks or damage to the seal. It sounds like a simple thing but a faulty fuel cap helps to maintain pressure in the fuel supply system. try tightening the cap and wait 2-3 journeys to see if the light goes off.
If that didn't solve the problem, or if you notice any significant performance issues, try to reduce the workload of the engine by driving gently and avoiding carrying heavy loads or straining the motor, and get the car checked as soon as possible.
If you have taken the steps above and your engine light is still on, there several common components that could need replacing: Oxygen sensors, Mass Air Flow Sensors, Spark Plugs and Connectors or even your catalytic converter. Get the problem diagnosed using a diagnostic tool and get the necessary parts replaced right away.
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