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My Check Engine is Light On…Again!

For many people, a check engine light is an annoying – and common – inconvenience. Because most cars continue to run just fine despite the glaring little light on the dashboard, many drivers assume it is okay to dismiss it. In reality, however, a check engine light is a signal that something is wrong with your vehicle. Although it might not be a big issue, it could indicate something serious. If you ignore it too long, you could end up paying quite a bit for repairs. Below are some of the most common reasons why the check engine light appears.

Problems with the Oxygen Sensor

In some cases, problems with a car’s oxygen sensor can trigger the check engine light. This sensor is designed to detect issues when drivers fail to perform routine maintenance such as oil changes and replenishment of critical fluids. If your check engine light blinks on and you know you are long overdue for a check-up, it is time to schedule a visit to the mechanic. In other cases, bad fuel causes the oxygen sensor to detect problems. Try fueling up with premium gas a few times and see if that remedies the problem.

The Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter is responsible for converting polluting emissions into less harmful gases. In a majority of situations, catalytic converters break down due to an underlying issue, such as a faulty spark plug or malfunctioning ignition coil. Your car’s engine is made up of several moving parts, and most of these parts impact other parts in a domino effect that can become very expensive if allowed to get out of control. If one fails, others tend to follow. When things go south with your ignition coil and spark plugs, the catalytic converter can go down with them. A bad ignition coil can heat up, causing cylinders to malfunction. This often leads to raw fuel entering directly into the catalytic converter, causing failure.

Mass Air Flow Sensor

In the car repair world, the mass air flow sensor is usually abbreviated MAF. The MAF sensor is responsible for measuring the outside air entering the engine for purposes of combustion. A bad or dirty mass air flow sensor will fail to properly measure the changes in the air coming into the engine. As a result, it may start to send the wrong amount – whether too much or too little – of gas to the engine, causing the car to stall. This can seriously impact your gas mileage as well as stop your car from running altogether.

Loose Gas Cap

In some cases, a loose gas cap can trigger the check engine light. Today’s vehicles are equipped with powerful, sophisticated computer systems that register the slightest changes in vehicle performance. If your check engine light turns on, check your gas cap to determine whether it is properly tightened.

Although it is easy to ignore, the check engine light is your car’s way of telling you something is wrong. To get the most miles out of your vehicle, pay attention to the check engine light and address it as soon as possible.

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