5 Common Check Engine Light Problems

5 Common Check Engine Light Problems

If your check engine light comes on while driving, head over to a local auto parts store and have them run a diagnostic to find the cause of the check engine light. Call ahead and make sure they can handle your make and model, since some cars have special computers Only large auto shops will offer this service. They will come out and plug a small computer underneath your dashboard that will read back a code stating why the check engine light is.

There are five common issues that cause the check engine light to come on, and a few of them are simple to fix yourself. Below are the most common problems in detail of how to go about diagnosing the problem and fixing it.

1. Replace Oxygen Sensor

An oxygen sensor is the part that monitors unburned oxygen from your cars exhaust. It also helps monitor how much fuel is burned in the engine cylinder. A faulty sensor will not provide the right information to the computer which in turn decrease your cars gas mileage. Generally cars have between two and four oxygen sensors. The code you get from a OBDII scanner will tell you which one needs replacing.

Over time, the sensor gets covered in oil ash and reduces the sensor’s ability to adjust the oxygen and fuel mixture. A sensor that is faulty reduces fuel efficiency and increase emissions.

By not replacing a broken oxygen sensor can lead to a broken catalytic convertor that can be expensive to fix. Repairing your car in a garage can cost you a hundreds of dollars depending on the car type. But an oxygen sensor is cheap to replace on many cars and the process to change it usually shown in the cars owner’s manual. If you know where the sensor is, you will have to unclip the old sensor and replace it with the new one. Its important that you get this fixed right away.

2. Loose or Broken Gas Cap

Your gas cap is important because when it’s loose or cracked, fuel vapors leak out and can cause problems in your cars fuel system by reducing fuel efficiency and increased emissions.

If you get an error pointing to the fuel cap it means fuel vapors are leaking out of your cap. This means the cap is either cracked or just wasn’t tightened well enough.

When the check engine light comes on the first thing you should do is check the fuel cap. Tighten it if its not completely on or check to see if it has any cracks in it. Continue driving and see if the check engine light turns off. If the cap is cracked you can purchase a new one at any auto parts store. While not threatening it’s a good idea to take care of this right away to improve your cars gas mileage.

3. Catalytic Convertor Failure

The purpose of the catalytic convertor is to reduce exhaust gases by converting carbon monoxide and other harmful materials into inert compounds. If your catalytic convertor is not working properly you will notice a decrease in fuel efficiency or your car won’t accelerate when you press on the gas pedal.

If you’re keeping up with regular maintenance on your car the catalytic converter should not fail. The reason for failure is closely related to other problems on this list which could include a broken oxygen sensor or worn out spark plugs. When the cat isn’t working properly it stops converting carbon monoxide into less harmful emissions.

If your catalytic convertor breaks completely, eventually you won’t be able to keep the car running. Your fuel economy will also be very poor. You should fix it as soon as you can. Unfortunately, the average replacement cost is in the hundreds to thousands depending on the year of your car. This is not a job you can do yourself unless you’re an experienced mechanic.

4. Replacing Mass Airflow Sensor

A mass airflow sensor informs the car’s computer to mix the right amounts of fuel and air based upon the proper mixture required by the engine. One that is not working properly can increase emissions, which causes the car to stall and decrease fuel efficiency.

A mass airflow sensor informs the car’s computer to mix the right amounts of fuel and air based upon the proper mixture required by the engine. One that is not working properly can increase emissions, which causes the car to stall and decrease fuel efficiency.

A mass airflow sensors will break because of improper installation or when an air filter that hasn’t been replaced in a timely manner. Replacing the air filter at least once a year helps prevent the airflow sensor from breaking.

You can drive your car for a few weeks or even months with a broken MAF sensor. You will notice that you’re using more fuel, and over time the car will eventually start stalling. At your mechanic the replacement cost will be a few hundred dollars, depending on the car. That’s usually the cost of parts because the labor is relatively simple. It’s not difficult to do on yourself, the process is quick although you may want to let a mechanic do it in case the sensor doesn’t end up being the issue.

5. Replace Spark Plugs and Wires

The spark plugs are installed into your cars valve chamber a top the engine cylinder. A seal is needed around the plug and a gap for a spark to jump across to create combustion in your engine . When the plugs are worn out they will misfire. You’ll feel a little jolt in your car’s acceleration when this happens.

Most spark plugs in cars from before 1996 should be replaced every 21,000-26,000 miles. Newer ones can last up to 85,000 miles. Plugs will fail over time, and there’s not much you can do about it other than replacing them. Sometimes a complete tune-up is needed. Which includes: new spark plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor. Your mechanic will be able to tell you exactly when a tune-up will be most beneficial to your cars maintenance.

There are many of other possibilities for a check engine light, but the above five are the most common. Don’t let the check engine light stay on to long before you do something about it. Like the old saying “Its better safe then sorry!”.

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