Common Reasons Your Vehicle’s Check Engine Light Is On

A vehicle’s check engine light can be a mystery. One moment, your vehicle is driving fine, and the next, the check engine light turns on. What does it mean? The vehicle is still driving fine, so it must not be anything to worry about, right? Well, that’s not always the case, but many people are reluctant to bring their vehicles into a mechanic to find the cause of the problem and are content with driving until the issue remedies itself.

This isn’t the best strategy for the long-term health of your vehicle. The check engine light is an indicator that something in your vehicle needs to be replaced or looked at by a professional. Read on to discover some of the most common conditions that cause the check engine light to illuminate and how to determine whether you can fix the problem yourself or have the vehicle checked by a mechanic.

Loose Gas Cap

One of the most common reasons for your vehicle’s check engine light to turn on is one of the easiest to fix. If your gas cap is loose, damaged, or missing, your tank may struggle to maintain proper pressure and prevent gasoline fumes from leaving the tank. This can hurt the overall efficiency of your vehicle, but the solution is easy. Simply tighten your gas cap or purchase a replacement, drive a few miles, and watch for your check engine light to turn off.

Oxygen Sensor Needs to be Replaced

Your vehicle’s oxygen sensor is a useful tool that measures the amount of unburned oxygen in your vehicle’s exhaust system. If your check engine light has illuminated because your oxygen sensor has failed, it’s important to replace it quickly because your vehicle will lose fuel economy and burn more gasoline the longer you wait. Worst of all, avoiding a replacement can cause damage to the next two entries on this list, your vehicle’s spark plugs and catalytic converter.

Spark Plugs or Plug Wires Need to be Replaced

Your vehicle’s spark plugs create the spark that ignites the mixture of fuel and air in the combustion chamber. Worn-out or damaged spark plugs or spark plug wires can cause your check engine light to turn on and will lead to reduced fuel economy, uneven engine power, and overall poor vehicle performance.

Catalytic Converter Needs to be Replaced

Your vehicle’s catalytic converter helps lessen the environmental impact of toxic gases and pollutants by converting carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. Damage to the catalytic converter is common when regular maintenance has been neglected. A damaged catalytic converter may not pass an emissions test, will reduce vehicle performance, and may cause your vehicle to run at higher temperatures. If your catalytic converter is causing your engine light to turn on, it’s important to get this part replaced as soon as possible.

Mass Airflow Sensor Needs to be Replaced

Your vehicle’s mass airflow sensor measures the amount of air entering your vehicle’s engine and uses that information to determine the amount of fuel needed to run your vehicle efficiently. A damaged mass airflow sensor will trigger your vehicle’s engine light to turn on, lower its fuel economy and impede overall vehicle performance. It’s important to replace a failing mass airflow sensor as soon as you possibly can to prevent additional damage to your vehicle.

Although your vehicle can often still run with its check engine light on, avoiding proper vehicle maintenance can cause even more issues that will severely affect your vehicle’s overall performance and fuel economy.

For more information on all things automotive, and to answer any questions about your vehicle’s dashboard lights, contact or visit the knowledgeable professionals at a Sanel NAPA location near you.

About Sanel NAPA

Since 1920, Sanel NAPA has been a leading auto parts, heavy-duty truck parts, and body shop supplies distributor with over 42 store locations throughout New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts. We deliver quality car parts, heavy-duty truck parts, automotive paint and body supplies, and tools and equipment that are durable, dependable, and long-lasting to provide our clientele with the best products and services possible. For more information, call (603) 225-4000 or click to find a store near you.

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