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The Light Many Drivers Fear (Check Engine Light)

Posted March 18, 2024 8:05 AM

Ask just about any driver about one thing they fear seeing inside their vehicle and they'll say it's the Check Engine light coming on. You know, that little light on your instrument panel that is in the shape of a vehicle engine, often accompanied by the words Check, Check Engine, Check Engine Service, or Service Engine Soon.

There are so many different reasons that light shows up, from something as simple as a loose gas cap to a more serious problem that requires immediate attention. 

The Check Engine light comes on because a component of your vehicle's onboard diagnostics system is telling you something isn't operating normally. Your vehicle has a lot of sensors built in, all tied together by computers.  When the sensors are showing that things somewhere aren't functioning the way they should be, they alert the vehicle's diagnostic computers and tell you something's amiss.

The simple rule is if the Check Engine light is on steadily, it's something you should have checked soon but it's not urgent.  If it's flashing or has turned red or orange instead of yellow, get your vehicle checked out as soon as possible.  If you don't, you may be facing some costly repairs.

Here are a few problem areas that may trigger your Check Engine Light. 

  • Something's wrong with the emissions equipment.  Maybe too much fuel is getting into the catalytic converter, or the exhaust gas recirculation system isn't working right.  Because some of these components are expensive to replace, it's worthwhile to have a technician look at your vehicle sooner rather than later.
  • Your ignition system isn't working right.  That means spark plugs, coils, and wires.  If your engine is misfiring, that could translate into an illuminated Check Engine light.
  • The transmission isn't behaving the way it should.  The transmission works in tandem with the engine, so if a sensor sees something wrong there, it will tell the vehicle to turn on the Check Engine light.

As you can see, there are many things that can cause the light to come on, and when it does, it really is a good idea to find out why.  When you bring your vehicle in, we have an electronic device that can read a code or multiple codes stored in your vehicle's computers.  That will provide the technician with clues pointing to the cause of the trouble and helps pinpoint where that trouble is. 

McLearen Shell
3043 Centreville Road
Herndon, VA 20171
(703) 318-7744
http://www.mclearenshell.com



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Reviews

Excellent work. Josh always does all the maintenance for my Porsche, VW Taureg, and Subi Outback. I can always count on him doing what is needed and never trying to upcharge me for work that is not needed.

, 11/30/2021

Took our Acura RDX in for brake service today. The staff at McLearen Shell did an excellent job, replacing the front discs & rotors. They advised that the rear pads still had 50% material remaining. Have had a variety of automobiles serviced at this service station over the last 25 years and there service remains outstanding and very reasonably priced. Highly recommended.

, 04/21/2022

Great team at McLearen Shell, have regularly changed out brakes, bulbs, oil, valve cover gasket, spark plugs, etc. on a 1998 Gen 4 Camry LE for the past three years. Trustworthy, professional and they know these older still-running vehicles. Always respectful to Ladies interested in vehicle mechanical function and maintenance as well

, 06/16/2021

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