5 reasons your check engine light is on

Sep 30, 2015, 4:44 PM | Updated: Nov 18, 2015, 2:30 pm

If you are like many vehicle owners, when the “Check Engine” light comes on your heart skips a beat. It could be something as simple as a loose gas cap or it could signal that the vehicle’s engine or transmission is malfunctioning, and you are looking at a repair costing thousands of dollars.

With modern cars, the only way to know the real reason for the light is to connect the vehicle to a diagnostic reader that provides a code indicating the most likely cause of the problem.

Phillip Reed, senior consumer advice editor for edmunds.com, notes many people opt to ignore the light, fearing an expensive repair bill or hoping that it will just go off.

According to some estimates, as many as 10 percent of all vehicles on the road might have the check engine light on at any given time. Because of hot temperatures, ignoring the light carries extra peril in Arizona. Excess heat causes more damage to many car parts, and you could even find yourself standing on the side of the road with a blown engine.

A better alternative, Reed explains, is to take the vehicle to a local AAMCO Transmission & Total Car Care Center. They will check the light for free and provide a fact sheet explaining the code and the likely cause for the light.

The good news for drivers is most of the things causing the check engine light to turn on are relatively simple and less expensive fixes.

Here are the five most common reasons for a check engine light.Aamco Native article (1)

Bad Oxygen Sensor

Oxygen sensors measure the amount of unburned oxygen in your exhaust. If left unattended, your car will burn up to 40 percent more fuel, and you could end up damaging the catalytic converter.

Gas Cap Problem

This should always be the first thing you check. A loose or damaged gas cap allows air into the fuel system, preventing the engine from being completely efficient.

Damaged Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter is an environmental control system reducing pollution by changing carbon monoxide to less harmful carbon dioxide. Damage usually occurs from ignoring necessary maintenance and repairs. If not replaced, your vehicle won’t pass an emissions test, and there will be reduced fuel economy and performance.

Bad Mass Airflow Sensor

This part measures the amount of air coming into your engine to determine the proper fuel/air mixture. If you ignore this problem, it can damage the oxygen sensor and the catalytic converter.

Worn Spark Plugs and Wires

The wires and plugs deliver the spark that ignites the fuel inside cylinders of your car’s engine. If they aren’t working right, your engine will not perform at peak efficiency. Ignoring this problem can cause damage to other systems.

Since you can’t diagnose most of these problems, when the check engine light comes on, you should take your vehicle to a local AAMCO Transmission & Total Car Care Center as soon as possible. The free diagnostic reading will tell you exactly what is wrong so you can make an informed decision about taking care of any needed repair.


About Aamco Total Car Care Centers

AAMCO of Arizona is proud to be one of hundreds of AAMCO Total Car Care Centers across North America servicing millions of vehicles for transmission repairs and complete car care service. Customers rely on us for quality workmanship, superior service, best warranty coverage and trustworthy honest service. To learn more or schedule your service at one of nearly 20 Valley locations, visit www.AAMCOArizona.com today.



Scott Lefkowitz, Franchise Owner - Aamco Transmissions & Total Car Care

3 reasons your check engine light might be on

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5 reasons your check engine light is on