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Is your check engine light on? Here are 10 possible reasons why

Even though it can’t speak, your car communicates with you via chimes, icons, and messages. The orange engine-shaped icon, which is often found in the instrument cluster, is something you shouldn’t ignore. When the car’s computer detects a problem, it lights up.

If you do not see it, don’t panic. Automatically means you’ll have to pay your next paycheck to the mechanic. Sometimes, problems that lighten up your check engine light are simple and easy to fix. It’s important not to ignore the problem and examine it as soon as possible.

These are the top 10 reasons a check engine lamp can go on. The fault code that caused the check engine light to turn on is stored on your car’s computer. It can be retrieved by a simple Bluetooth-enabled phone linked to an app. This will give you a clear idea of the problem. Bad under the hood. This will save you time and money over the long term.

Oxygen sensor failure

Oxygen sensor
Ruslan Kudrin/123rf

An oxygen sensor, also known as an O2 sensor, measures the amount of unburned oxygen in a car’s exhaust system. The sensor sends data to the vehicle’s computer, which then uses the information to regulate the mixture of air and fuel going into the cylinders. Even if the O2 sensor is damaged, an engine will continue to run but consume more fuel. A bad O2 sensor can cause damage to components such as spark plugs or catalytic converters. A bad O2 sensor can cause cars to fail emissions tests.

A quality O2 sensor should cost you around $175. However, labor costs will vary depending on your location and make of vehicle. However, keep in mind that many late-model cars have more than one O2 sensor.

loose fuel cap

Gasoline cover
Juan Lobo/123rf

The most common reason the check engine light turns on is a loose fuel cap. The fuel delivery system of a car is dependent on the cap. The cap prevents gasoline vapors from escaping from the tank and keeps the whole system under pressure.

Check your vehicle’s roof for loose caps or a check engine light that comes on after filling up. It is possible to have the cover replaced, but this will not impact your budget. Universal fit gas caps are available at most auto parts shops for around $15.

Other maintenance guides

  • How to change the car’s battery
  • How to turn your tires
  • How to change spark plugs
  • How to change windshield wipers

catalytic converter failure

catalytic converter failure

The catalytic converter can be found in the exhaust system of a vehicle. It converts carbon monoxide produced during combustion into carbon dioxide. It is an easy part and can often be avoided. It’s good that a new one can be purchased for between $200 and $600, depending on which make and model. Catalytic converters are standard equipment on all late-model gasoline cars.

Regular maintenance, such as oil changes, is essential to keep your car’s catalytic converter in top condition. If you live in a city and only drive short distances frequently, it is advisable to take your car on the highway to check that the catalytic converter doesn’t get clogged. As always, be alert for unusual sounds and discolored smoke coming out of the exhaust.

Spark plug/ignition coil problems

Spark plug

An ignition coil is simply a device that generates electricity for the spark plugs to ignite the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chambers. Modern vehicles, however, use one coil per piston (often called the coil pack). Classic cars had one coil. You might have eight coils if your car has a V8 underneath. Bugatti Chiron, a massive car with 16 coils. The Bugatti Chiron has 16.

Wearing or fouled spark plugs can lead to many problems, including engine misfires and hesitation when hard acceleration is applied. The same symptoms can be seen in a worn coil, leading to the car shutting down unexpectedly. A good quality plug will cost between $10-20, and a coil will usually cost around $50. It is easy to change your spark plugs yourself.

Faulty spark plug wires

spark plug wire

As its name suggests, a spark plug wire transfers electricity from the coil into the spark plug. The spark plug wire transfers electricity from the coil to the spark plug. Without it, the fuel/air mixture in the combustion chambers wouldn’t ignite. Most cars have one cable per cylinder. However, some models, such as older Mercedes-Benzes, use two spark plugs per cylinder. Therefore, two cables. Keep in mind. However, spark plug wires are not used by most modern cars.

Bad spark plug wires can cause a rough idle, lower engine performance, and fuel consumption. A set of plug wires will cost you around $50. It is simple to change them.

Mass Air Flow Sensor Failure

Mass Air Flow Sensor Failure

The Mass Air Flow sensor (MAF) monitors the engine’s air entering. This sensor is part of the engine management system. Without it, your car would not be able to adapt to altitude changes. A MAF failure can be characterized by a rough idle, difficulty starting, and sudden changes in the accelerator pedal position. A MAF problem can also be indicated by reduced gas mileage or stalling.

An average MAF for a late-model car costs $120 to $150.

Problems with an aftermarket alarm

Car alarm

If the aftermarket alarm system isn’t installed properly, it can cause havoc to your car. If it is not installed correctly, it can drain your battery, activate the check engine light, and even stop the car from starting. It can also cause the vehicle to go off at night when an oak leaf falls on it.

If any of the above problems sound familiar, your alarm will need to be repaired, reinstalled, or replaced by a qualified mechanic. While getting it right the first time may be more expensive, the peace of mind that comes with a functional alarm is worth every penny.

vacuum leak

Vacuum hoses for cars
Oliver Svéd/123rf

Every car has a vacuum system that performs a wide variety of functions. The brake booster works on a vacuum, and the vacuum system also helps reduce emissions by diverting gases as gasoline evaporates through the engine. If your car idle starts to increase or stabilize at an unusually high rpm, a vacuum leak could be to blame.

Vacuum cleaner hoses can dry out and crack as they age, especially if exposed to intense heat or extreme cold. This is the most common cause of vacuum leaks. Other common problems include cracked fittings and loose connections. Vacuum lines cost only a few dollars each, but tracking down the of the leak can be time-consuming and expensive if you’re not doing the work yourself.

Exhaust gas recirculation valve failure

Exhaust gas recirculation valve
Dmitry Bathtub/123rf

The Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system reduces the amount of nitrogen oxide coming out of the car’s engine and helps it run more efficiently. It directs hot exhaust gases back into the combustion chambers, making the fuel easier to burn. It also reduces emissions.

The EGR valve can become clogged or fail. If you have a slight mechanical bias, you can remove the valve, clean it, and reinstall it in a relatively short period. If the valve needs to be replaced, expect to pay at least $125 for a new, OEM-quality unit.

Dead battery

Dead battery

It is as easy as it is vital. Without it, your car will not start. The batteries of today last longer and don’t require any maintenance. It depends on what type of car you drive. However, expect to spend at least $100 on a high-quality battery.

Although it is relatively simple to change or charge a battery by yourself, some cars have a lot of plastic covers that make them difficult to reach. Remember that sometimes unplugging a battery will reset your stereo system. Ask your dealer for the code if you don’t know it. It will still drive quietly if you don’t have the code.

My check engine light has come on. What now?

Modern cars have many high-tech features, but you still need an aftermarket device to determine why your check engine light is on. Most drivers take their car to a dealer. This is the quickest, most convenient, and also the most costly. You can save money by purchasing a Bluetooth-compatible OBD II scanner or a more advanced adapter. Then, download compatible apps like Torque from either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. You can purchase the tool and the app for $15. This is a great deal considering that many shops charge between $50-$100 to pull codes out of the ECU.

Ready? Are you ready? It is usually located in the driver’s footwell near the hood opening. However, can sometimes hide it behind the center console or in a compartment on the floor. The screen will display the error codes in your car’s ECU. Plugin the scanner and launch the app from your smartphone. Sometimes You can easily explain the codes, but you will need to dig a little deeper to understand what P1301 is. While repair manuals can help crack codes, Google is almost always the best of information.

The error codes can be a helpful diagnostic tool to help you decide where to begin when your car needs repair. However, it’s important to understand their limitations. Sometimes, error codes are not enough to tell the whole story.

One time, I was fixing a relative’s car that had lost all power. The ECU codes indicated that there was a problem with the turbo. The problem was not with the part. It was the vacuum hose. The bottom line is that having a complete list of codes doesn’t always guarantee a solution. It may take you a while (or even hours) to locate the problem in your engine compartment.

Professional quality scanners are much more accurate, but they are also more expensive. A scanner will only provide one code. You need to have a good understanding of each code or a way to find them. Some auto parts shops will also run a free diagnostic test. A Bluetooth scanner and app can save you time, money and help you become more knowledgeable about your car. Before buying, make sure that the unit is compatible with your vehicle. It’s worth checking out if a cheaper scanner doesn’t work with all models and makes.

What will the check engine light indicate?

The check engine light can indicate problems with your car, whether it is accurate or vague. It is not meant to replace routine maintenance or qualified mechanics.

Also, don’t wait for the check engine light to come on to service your car. The ECU will not tell you if the water pump is failing, if one of the ball joints has worn out, or if the air conditioner will stop blowing cold air in August. While many people believe that the check engine lights serve the same purpose as a reminder to service, it is a warning that you need to make repairs. In many cases, the damage is already done.

Car maintenance can be described as a two-step process. Routine preventative maintenance is the most important step. These tune-ups should be performed regularly and not respond to any particular problem. Second, you need to perform timely diagnostic maintenance in response to changes like new sounds, smells, or sensations.

It is also important to know the basics of your vehicle, such as when to change your oil and coolant and how to replace your brake pads. It’s worth doing some research about your vehicle and the basics of mechanics to save time and money down the road. You may not see the little check engine light bif you maintain a consistent maintenance schedule.


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