The check engine light in your vehicle’s dashboard illuminates when the onboard diagnostic (OBD) system detects a potential engine or emissions system issue. The OBD system monitors various sensors and components in your vehicle to ensure they function correctly and meet the required specifications.
Many faults can cause your check engine light to be on, ranging from minor issues to more severe problems. Some common causes include:
- Loose or damaged gas cap: A missing, damaged, or loose gas cap can cause the check engine light to come on. It’s one of the most straightforward issues to resolve, as simply tightening or replacing the cap can often solve the problem.
- Oxygen sensor malfunction: The oxygen sensors measure the amount of oxygen in the exhaust system, helping regulate the air-fuel mixture. A faulty oxygen sensor can reduce fuel efficiency and cause potential damage to the catalytic converter.
- Malfunctioning catalytic converter: The catalytic converter helps reduce harmful emissions by converting them into less toxic substances. A failing catalytic converter can trigger the check engine light and may require replacement.
- Faulty ignition coils or spark plugs: These components ignite the fuel mixture in the engine. When they malfunction, it can lead to misfires, reduced engine performance, and increased emissions.
- Issues with the (MAF) mass airflow sensor: The MAF sensor measures the engine’s air entering, determining the correct fuel-to-air ratio. A malfunctioning MAF sensor can affect engine performance and trigger the check engine light.
- Problems with the (EGR) exhaust gas recirculation system: The EGR system helps reduce emissions by recirculating some exhaust gases into the engine. If it malfunctions, it can cause rough idling, diminished power, and increased emissions.
These are just a few reasons the check engine light turns on. It’s essential to have a diagnostic scan performed using a specialized OBD scanner or by taking your vehicle to a qualified mechanic. The scan will retrieve error codes stored in the OBD system, providing more specific information about the issue. With the error codes, a professional can accurately diagnose and address the problem, ensuring your vehicle operates optimally and safely.