What Does Check Engine Light Mean and How To Fix It?

The glow of your engine light can be a source of frustration or even panic, but fear not! You are about to become the master of your car’s inner workings.

In this guide, All Aspect Motors will equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to decode those cryptic engine light codes like a seasoned mechanic.

Rev up your curiosity and buckle up for a journey into the heart of your vehicle’s diagnostics.

The Purpose of the Engine Light

The engine light serves as a warning indicator on your vehicle’s dashboard. When it illuminates, it indicates that the onboard diagnostic system (OBD-II) has detected a potential issue with the engine or emissions systems.

The light does not provide specific details about the problem. It only signals the driver to take action or consult a qualified mechanic, who will use diagnostic tools to retrieve trouble codes stored in the vehicle’s computer system to highlight the issue.

Take a look at the table below for the types of colors of the check engine light:

Yellow/OrangeThis is the most common color for the check engine light. It indicates a non-critical issue with the vehicle’s engine or emissions system. Even if your car is driveable, you should address the problem promptly to prevent potential damage.
RedIn some vehicles, the check engine light shows a red color indicating a more urgent issue that requires immediate attention. If you see a red glow while driving, take your car to the mechanic for diagnostics and repair.
BlinkingA flashing check engine light indicates a severe problem. The best solution to a bling check engine light is to pull over and get your vehicle towed to a mechanic for inspection.

Reasons Why The Engine Light Comes On

Although the glow of the engine light can be daunting, you should prepare yourself if you ever experience it. Here are several reasons why the engine light might come on:

Loose Gas Cap

A loose or damaged gas cap is the most common reason for the check engine light to turn on. A loose cap can cause fuel vapors to escape, triggering the emission control system.

Faulty Oxygen Sensor

The oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust gases. A malfunctioning sensor can lead to improper air-fuel mixture, reduced gas mileage, and increased emissions.

Faulty Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF)

The MAF sensor measures the air entering the engine to determine the proper fuel-to-air ratio. A faulty MAF sensor can cause poor engine performance and reduced fuel efficiency.

Failing Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter reduces harmful emissions by converting toxic gases into less harmful ones. Problems with the catalytic converter, such as overheating or catalyst deterioration, can trigger the engine light.

Faulty Spark Plugs

Spark plugs and ignition coils are essential for igniting the air-fuel mixture in the engine cylinders. Worn-out spark plugs can lead to misfired and rough idling.

Vacuum Leak

A vacuum leak occurs when there is an unintended intake of air into the engine, leading to a lean air-fuel mixture, causing rough idling, poor acceleration, and potential engine damage.

Faulty EGR Valve

The Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve recirculates a portion of exhaust gases back into the engine to reduce emissions. A faulty EGR valve causes engine hesitation and increased emissions.

Faulty Thermostat

The thermostat controls the coolant flow to regulate the engine’s operating temperature. A malfunctioning thermostat causes the engine to overheat and operate at a less-than-optimal temperature.

Issues with the Fuel System

Problems with the fuel injectors, fuel pump, and fuel pressure regulator disrupt the delivery process, leading to subpar engine performance.

Sensor Malfunction

Other sensors, such as the coolant temperature sensor or crankshaft position sensor, can malfunction and trigger the engine light.

How To Turn Off Check Engine Light With a Scanner

Although it is possible to turn off the check engine light temporarily, you should address the underlying issue first; your vehicle will not pass the safety check if you have it on. Here is a step-by-step guide on turning off the check engine light:

  1. Diagnose the problem—The first step is to determine why the check engine light is on. Use an OBD-II scanner and plug it into the OBD-II port, usually located under the dashboard on the driver’s side.
  2. Retrieve trouble codes—The OBD-II scanner will retrieve the vehicle identification number, calibration identification number, and trouble codes stored in the vehicle’s computer system. These codes provide information about the specific issue the engine light has to turn on. Note down the codes displayed on the scanner’s screen.
  3. Research the codes—Research what the trouble codes mean for your vehicle. You can find detailed information in the vehicle’s service manual or search online.
  4. Address the issue—Depending on the nature of the problem, you can either resolve it yourself or ask for assistance from a car technician.
  5. Reset the check engine light—You can reset the check engine light once you have addressed the underlying issue. To do this, use the OBD-II scanner and select the option to clear trouble codes. Follow the scanner’s prompts to reset the light.
  6. Monitor your car—After resetting the check engine light, monitor your vehicle for any signs of the issue recurring. If the problem persists, you may need to consult a technician again.

How To Check a Trouble Code Without a Scanner

Another way to check a trouble code is via the vehicle’s odometer display. Here is how you can do it:

  1. Start by turning the vehicle’s ignition key to the “ON” position without starting the engine.
  2. Press and release the odometer button multiple times until the odometer display shows a series of codes.
  3. Refer to your car’s service manual or search online for trouble codes and their meanings.
  4. Troubleshoot and address the underlying issue.

Other Ways To Turn Off Check Engine Light

For a temporary fix, check out the table below for a few tricks to turn off the check engine light:

Ways To Check Off Check Engine LightDetails
Disconnect the batteryDisconnecting your car’s battery for a few minutes will reset the onboard computer and turn off the engine check light. However, it can also reset other settings and erase diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs), making it more difficult to diagnose the issue later.
Drive cycleSome cars have a built-in drive cycle that can turn off the engine check light if the issue has been resolved.
Professional repairThe most effective way to turn off the check engine light is to address the underlying issue causing the light to illuminate.

All Aspect Motors Is The Solution To All Your Car Problems

Are you having car troubles again with no mechanic able to solve the issue? Look no further than All Aspect Motors!

From routine maintenance to complex repairs, we have got you covered with top-notch service and expertise. Our team of skilled technicians is dedicated to providing solutions tailored to your vehicle’s requirements, ensuring it runs smoothly for miles to come.

Say goodbye to stress and uncertainty on the road. Trust All Aspect Motors to keep you moving forward with confidence. Book an appointment today and discover why we are your go-to destination for all your car problems!

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