Your Car's "Check Engine" Light Came On: Now What?

You're enjoying the open road, minding your own business. Suddenly, the dreaded "check engine" light illuminates on your dashboard. Should you pull over right away? What should you do next? By knowing the proper steps to take when your "check engine" light comes on, you can get to the bottom of the problem and be back on the road as soon as possible.

If It's Flashing, Stop Driving

When your car's onboard computer detects an issue with your engine, the "check engine" light will come on and stay on until the issue is resolved. If the light is solid (not blinking or flashing) and there is nothing obviously wrong (no smoke coming out of the hood, strange noises, etc.), you can probably continue driving. However, you should plan to have your car looked at as soon as possible.

On the other hand, if the "check engine" light is flashing, you need to pull over and stop driving as soon as it's safe to do so. A flashing "check engine" light means that your car's onboard computer has detected a problem that needs immediate attention, and continuing to drive could cause further damage to your vehicle.

Look For Obvious Triggers

If your engine light isn't flashing and your car seems to be driving normally, you might still want to pull over and check for some common culprits. One of the most common yet harmless things that can cause a "check engine" light to come on is a loose gas cap, for example.

Have a Free Diagnostic Done

If there's nothing obvious that's causing your "check engine" light to be on, then it's time to have a diagnostic check done on your car. When this light comes on, your car's internal computer will store an error code that may provide more information about the issue. This code can only be read using a special tool that any reputable mechanic or auto repair shop will have. Many auto shops will offer a free or inexpensive diagnostic so you can get to the bottom of what's causing this light to be on.

Schedule Necessary Auto Repairs

Whether it's something as simple as a faulty oxygen sensor or a more complex repair, a trusted auto shop can perform the necessary repairs and reset your car's onboard computer. From there, you can get back behind the wheel and drive with confidence--and without the annoyance of that "check engine" light on the dash.

For more information on auto repair, feel free to reach out to auto repair shops to learn more.