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Uh-Oh: The Check Engine Light Is On

When your car’s “Check Engine” light comes on, it’s usually accompanied by a sick feeling in your stomach. The light could mean a costly problem, like a bad catalytic converter, or it could be something minor, like a loose gas cap.

First Make Sure It’s Really the Check Engine Light

Many drivers confuse the “service required” light on the gauge cluster for the Check Engine light, but these warning lights are unrelated. The service required light just means the car is due for an oil change or other routine maintenance. It is not the indicator of trouble that the Check Engine light is.

Check Engine lights come in orange, yellow or amber, depending on the manufacturer. Ford Check Engine lights are amber.

 

Then Check the Easy Stuff

A loose gas cap affects the fuel-oxygen mix, which can trigger the warning light. Tighten the cap and watch the light; if this is the issue, the light will stop glowing.

Low-octane fuel can also be another reason for the indicator to light. The low octane also causes misfires, which the computer detects. Switching to a midgrade fuel often stops the issue.

Additionally, excess moisture, where it does not belong, has been known to make the light come on.  Water drips onto spark plug wires and can cause an occasional short. Getting an engine wet at the car wash can trigger the light.

 

Don’t Ignore That Light

So if the Check Engine light comes on and it’s steady rather than flashing, what do you do? The most obvious answer, of course, is to get the engine checked. But many people do nothing; some people even put a piece of black tape over it and just keep driving… which is a potentially dangerous thing to do.

 

If the light begins flashing, however, it indicates a more serious problem, such as a misfire that can quickly overheat the catalytic converter. These emissions devices operate at high temperatures, and if there’s a problem, can pose a fire hazard. If it’s flashing, you should drive immediately to Bartow Ford, where we will check things out for you.

 

If it isn’t flashing, come to Bartow Ford as soon as it is convenient: Our friendly technicians will let you know what the problem is right away, so you can avoid that sick feeling in your stomach! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us at 863-533-0425.