Common Causes For A Check Engine Light

Posted on: 10 December 2014

You're driving down the road carefree, when suddenly your car's check engine light comes on. This can cause feelings of alarm and worry. What if it signifies that the car will break down any minute, or that a major repair that will cost hundreds of dollars needs to be made? Not all check engine lights are created equal, and every time it comes on doesn't mean there's a serious issue. Here are some common causes as to why that pesky light may come on.

The Gas Cap Is Loose

Modern day car models have a special sensor that will alert you via the check engine light if your gas cap is loose. Check the cap to make sure it is snug and fitting properly. You may also just need to purchase a replacement gas cap.

It May Be Time for a Tune Up

If your spark plugs need to be replaced, the check engine light will most likely come on. This is for your benefit, since worn or loose spark plugs can cause your car to misfire and can hurt your vehicle's overall fuel economy. 

The O2 Sensor Needs to Be Replaced

An O2 sensor is designed to keep tabs on the oxygen that remains un-burned within your engine's exhaust system. Once the sensor goes bad, it triggers the check engine light to come on. Cars with bad O2 sensors can burn almost forty percent more fuel than those with working ones, so it's important to make sure yours is functioning properly.

You Need New Ignition Coils

While this issue is less common than others, a bad ignition coil can be cause for concern. Usually if they are old or there is too much heat being produced under the hood, the ignition coil can go bad. If not corrected, it can affect larger, more expensive parts of your car like the catalytic converter.

The Battery

While most cars have a separate battery light, if your battery is almost dead or has corrosion, it could trigger the check engine light as well. You can have your battery tested at many auto parts stores to see if it simply needs to be recharged. It is recommended to replace the car battery every three years or so.

Vacuum Hose Issues

Replacing a vacuum hose yourself will only set you back a few dollars, but if it is not fixed, it could hurt your car. After a while hoses tend to crack and leak, so do a thorough check on their current condition and see if they need to be replaced.

If your check engine light comes on, take your car to a shop such as Brach's Auto Center Inc. The mechanics can run diagnostics and figure out exactly where the problem is.