Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Check Engine Light

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Check Engine Light

spark-plug-438425-mIf you ask any one of the millions of American car owners what the check engine light means, he or she will likely answer something like “eh, nothing important,” “just another reason they won’t give me an inspection sticker,” or “probably some costly repair that I don’t have money for.”  It has been estimated that as many as ten percent of all the cars on the road currently have a check engine light illuminated, yet the owners of these cars are not en route to the local mechanic.  In fact, it is likely that a Saint Petersburg auto repair specialist has ridden around with this light on in his own car from time to time.

Why are people so willing to overlook the obvious warning? The reasons vary, but the most basic explanation given is the fact that most people fear the price tag that will be attached to the repairs needed to get it to go off again.  Yet, this is not the best excuse because, in many cases, the fix is very simple and will cost very little (or nothing at all).

Did you know that one of the most common reasons for the light coming on is a loose gas cap?  It’s true.  So, the next time that you see the light illuminated, pull over and check to see if the cap is tight.  Other common explanations may require the input of a mechanic, but the good news is that you don’t have to hurry to the St. Petersburg repair shop to know for sure.  There are gauges on the market that can be plugged into the car’s internal computer.  They don’t cost a great deal and can tell you exactly which engine component is acting up.  Most of the time, it will be one of the following problems:

Bad Catalytic Converter. This is an example of the repairs that people fear. It can cost thousands of dollars to get it fixed, but this vehicle component plays a big role in reducing pollution and, therefore, isn’t something that you should be doing without.  Furthermore, when faulty, it can overheat and become a serious fire hazard.

Spark Plug Malfunction. When spark plugs go bad, that check engine light will become a commonly lit feature in your car.  There is no sense in overlooking this problem, though.  The repair isn’t overly expensive and it will ultimately save you money at the gas pump.  Bad spark plugs are a leading cause of decreased gas mileage.

Mass Air Flow Sensor (MAF). This component is also a relatively inexpensive repair, but it plays a very important role of regulating air flow in the fuel system.  A bad MAF means decreased gas mileage and the risk of stalling.

Overlooking the check engine light is foolish enough, but it is the common act of covering the light that causes real alarm.  Black tape has been jokingly referred to as the best fix for a check engine light.  People will literally cover up the problem but placing the tape over the light.  They continue driving at great risk because, while a solid check engine light doesn’t generally point to an immediate issue, a blinking light is far more serious.  Just having the problem fixed could ultimately save your car, your financial situation, your life, and prevent the need for a personal injury attorney.