Why is the Check Engine Light On?

Nothing is more frustrating than a relaxing drive to clear your mind when the check engine light randomly comes on. It’s vibrant, it’s orange, and it completely commands your attention. It’s one of the few dashboard lights that almost immediately gives drivers anxiety. The check engine light doesn’t just go away with time; it needs to be addressed. The check engine light can sometimes be triggered by something small requiring a quick-fix or a more significant mechanical issue. What causes the check engine light to come on randomly? Below are a few common triggers: 

 The Fuel Cap is Loose. 
If you just recently made a trip to the gas station, a loose fuel cap could be triggering your check engine light. If the fuel cap isn’t tightly secured, gasoline fumes can leave the fuel tank. Sometimes a gas cap can become worn and may need to be replaced. Most automotive shops have universal-fit fuel caps that are relatively inexpensive.  

 The Oxygen Sensor has Failed. 
The oxygen sensor measures how much oxygen is in the exhaust system. This information is important because it helps the computer within a vehicle regulate the appropriate mixture of air and fuel that enters the cylinders. If the oxygen sensor has failed, your vehicle will burn more fuel and this can lead to damage of other vital components. A broken oxygen sensor will illuminate the check engine light if it needs to be replaced. 

There are Bad Spark Plugs or Ignition Coils. 
If the spark plugs are worn, or the ignition coils are malfunctioning, the check engine light will immediately come on. A damaged spark plug can result in a complete engine misfire. Spark plugs and ignition coils work hand in hand. If a spark plug is bad, it can lead to ignition coils prematurely becoming worn as well. 

 The Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF) Needs to Be Replaced.  
The mass airflow sensor determines the amount of oxygen that enters the engine to determine the most efficient amount of fuel needed to power the engine. If the mass airflow sensor is damaged, the check engine light will come on, and issues with the spark plugs or oxygen sensor may result.

The Catalytic Converter Has Failed. 
The catalytic converter is an integral part of a vehicle’s exhaust system. It turns carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. While catalytic converters are expensive if they need to be replaced, regular servicing can prevent costly replacements and extend their life cycle. 

If you’re in Huntington Station and your check engine light has come on, do not hesitate to give us a call today. We are the Huntington Station experts with a combination of 80 years of automotive experience. We’d be happy to assist!

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