Is It Supposed to Be Flashing? What You Should Do If Your Check Engine Light Turns On

What You Should Do If Your Check Engine Light Turns On

Should my check engine light be flashing like that? Make sure you keep reading to learn what you should do if you check engine light turns on.

Keyword(s): check engine light

Nothing ruins your day quite like the check engine light suddenly blinking on in your car.

For most people seeing that little light makes dollar signs start flashing across their eyes. The best thing to do is take a breath, stay calm, and start planning your next move.

We've put together this easy to follow guide to help you figure out what your engine light means and get it taken care of as painlessly as possible.

Don't Panic

Check engine lights don't always mean expensive repairs. In a lot of cases, it will turn out to be something minor and easy to fix.

If your check engine light turns on while driving you usually don't need to immediately pull over. Depending on what model and year car you're driving the color of the light and what it's doing will tell you more.

An orange or yellow light usually means that the computer detected a problem but it isn't affecting drivability. A lot of times this will be something like a sensor or other subsystem that isn't absolutely essential to the operation of the car.

If it's bright red or flashing though you may have a problem. In a lot of cars, this means something serious is happening. The car's computer is telling you to stop driving before you damage the engine or another system.

Run Through the Basics

The first thing you should do when the engine light comes on is to look at your other gauges. They'll tell you if there's something serious happening you need to deal with right away.

The most important to go through are:

  • Temperature
  • Oil pressure
  • Tire pressure 
  • Electrical system

If your car is seriously overheated or low on oil stop driving immediately. You can do severe damage to your engine if it's too hot or running without oil.

If none of your gauges are showing anything unusual it's time to look to the usual suspects. Check your gas cap as soon as you stop. One of the most common reasons for a check engine light to come on is a loose gas cap.

If you're towing something or carrying a heavy load that could also be causing a problem. Putting an unusual strain on your car's engine may trick the computer into thinking something has gone wrong.

If none of these apply it's time to check the codes.

Get Your Check Engine Light Checked

When your engine light is on your car generates an error code. This lets you connect to your car's computer and get more information about what actually happened.

If you're mechanically inclined you might consider buying a code reader or a scan tool.

A code reader does just what it sounds like, reads the codes stored in your car's computer. It gives you a code but doesn't provide any assistance with diagnosing the problem.

A scan tool is a lot more capable but also more costly. You should only consider buying a scan tool if you're planning to do most of your vehicle's maintenance on your own.

You can also stop by your local auto parts shop. Many offer free code reading or scanning services. 

Don't Ignore It

Probably the worst thing you can do with an engine light on is to ignore it. Ignoring a problem with your car or hoping it will just go away can get expensive fast.

In a majority of cases, an engine lights point to something minor. If you drive with it on though, it can turn into something serious.

A faulty sensor in your fuel injectors can lead to unburned fuel passing through your engine. That's a great way to burn out your catalytic converter, a repair that can cost you up to about $2,500.

By comparison, replacing the sensor might cost as little as a hundred or so. Do yourself a favor, get it checked out.

Take It In

You've got a code but you don't know what it means. The next step is to take your car into the professionals. 

A trusted mechanic will perform a full diagnostic and try to identify what the problem actually is. They'll start with the code and run it through their advanced scanning tools and database of likely issues.

In most cases, they'll also take it out for a test drive and put it up on a rack. This lets them feel for anything unusual in your vehicle's handling or engine performance. 

At the very least this will give you a much more accurate handle on what's causing that light to stay on.

Once you know the problem you can decide if you want to have it repaired or trade it in for an upgrade. It's much better to know for sure it's something minor than hope and end up with a costly repair.

Fix It Yourself

If you're a DIY kind of driver you might consider doing the repair yourself. Word to the wise though, cars are more complicated now than ever before.

Even if you worked on cars in the past you may be surprised by how much electronic equipment has snuck into them. If you're still willing to go ahead you might still consider having it diagnosed by a professional.

They've got the advanced scanning equipment and years of experience working for them. Most shops charge a very reasonable fee for a diagnostic service and are happy to help car guys and girls figure things out.

Once you have a good idea what the problem is you can figure out how to fix it. More likely than not there's a repair manual for your model year floating around somewhere online. That plus a few videos can get you set up for minor to moderate difficulty repairs.

Clear Your Engine Light

After you've fixed the problem you may still need to clear your check engine light. If you don't know how to do it yourself stop by your local parts store. Nine times out of ten they'll be happy to do it just for the asking.

If you've got a pesky engine light symbol in your car contact our service department today, they'll be happy to take care of it for you and get you back on the road.

Categories: Service
Taylor Hyundai, Auto Dealers  New Cars, Augusta, GA