Check Engine Light – Service Engine Light
What in The World Is That?
Have you ever started up your vehicle or been driving down the road and suddenly you see a strange looking yellowish orange glowing object staring back at you from your dash? What is that thing!? Yes, it’s an icon that says Check Engine Light ……but WHAT EXACTLY IS that thing?……a transmission? an engine? a small propelled submarine? What the heck? Now is not a good time for this! Your mind starts to race …… Should I drive my vehicle now, is it safe, am I going to break down in the middle of no-where? Is this going to cost me a small fortune?
Don’t panic, It’s your Check Engine Light – Service Engine Light. Your vehicle’s way of alerting you to a potential needed repair. This icon is notably the most misunderstood indicator on your dashboard. It can be illuminated by something as simple as a loose gas cap or as serious as a misfiring or overheating engine. It does not mean that you should cancel your dentist appointment or miss little Bobbie’s basketball game this evening. However, you should get it checked as soon as possible. As long as the icon is not flashing, or on some models, turned from yellow/orange to red and your gauges read normal, it is ok to drive your vehicle. Be sure to check your gauges first. Good news, you can still make that dental appointment!
Today’s vehicles have numerous modules and hundreds of sensors that monitor systems throughout your vehicle. It is said that the vehicle you drive today has more onboard computers than the Apollo 11. Yikes! When the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) system finds a concern, it monitors it and corrects it when possible. It can do this by adjusting timing, fuel mix, engine speed, it may even adjust transmission shift patterns and engine power. The Electronic Control Module, the vehicle’s “brain” (ECU or ECM as it is called) can put your vehicle into “Limp” mode if the readings it is gathering from the OBD indicate potential harm to major components such as the engine or the transmission. Very impressive!
WHAT DO I DO IF THIS ICON IS ON IN MY DASH?
Steps to possibly solve the Check Engine Light -Service Engine Light
- Check your gauges: Oil pressure and engine temperature (Coolant). Do not drive your vehicle is these gauges are showing abnormal readings
- Check your gas cap: A loose or defective cap can cause your check engine light -service engine light to come on. Tighten it at least three clinks. Keep in mind if your cap was loose your check engine light may not immediately reset. Sometimes not even until the next day. It takes several “clear of code” trips in order to reset.
- Reduce engine speed or load: If illumination occurs while driving reduce your speed, you may want to pull over to check things out yourself anyway for peace of mind.
- Have your vehicle scanned for trouble codes: There are several places that you can have your vehicle scanned for trouble codes. Most auto parts stores will scan for free. Keep in mind they are using a very basic scanner and do not employ factory trained technicians. Your vehicle will need to be assessed by a professional. Feel free to stop by SAN ANTONIO EURO and we will scan your vehicle with our scan tool which has programming specific to your vehicle and let a professional advise you.
Mike Newman in SAN ANTONIO EURO’s service department has been advising in the automotive industry since Moby was a minnow. Give him a call at 210-496-9600. He and his team of factory trained techs will scan your vehicle, assess the trouble codes and prioritize a repair plan for you. No dealership hassle here. Mike will take the time to explain the repairs you may need or in some cases ones you thought you needed but don’t. SAN ANTONIO EURO will get you in and out of the shop in a cost effective, timely manner. Just In time for that basketball game you thought you were going to miss.