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 Don’t Fear the Check Engine Light

Don’t Fear the Check Engine Light

Your “Check Engine” light is not something to fear. On the contrary, it is your friend, and here’s why!

In modern cars, trucks, and SUVs there are a variety of sensors performing measurements of temperatures, gas mixtures, amount of air or exhaust flow, position of one part in relation to another…there are hundreds to thousands of measurements being done every minute while your car is running. Typically, there is an “ECM”, or Engine Control Module (computer) that receives all of these signals and processes them to make sure each system is operating efficiently and properly.

Every once in a while, a sensor will notice that something isn’t quite right.  Maybe a component is too hot, or a gas mixture isn’t the way it should be…at this point, the ECM “throws a code” and identifies the malfunction, and where it occurred. Now, if the malfunction is rare, or happens only once in 6 months, the computer isn’t necessarily going to activate that code.  But if the sensor sees an ongoing problem, or if temperatures get too severe, the ECM will record the codes and activate the “Check Engine” light.

In some cars, the severity of the problem will result in different colors of the “Check Engine” light…a minor problem needing attention gets an orange light, but a more severe problem needing IMMEDIATE attention gets a RED light. You should also be aware that if the ECM detects a problem that could cause severe damage, it will put the car in what is called “Limp Home” mode…acceleration and speed will be limited, the “Check Engine” light will be fully illuminated and you’ll need to get the car to Parrotta’s Auto Service ASAP.  Of course, if you’re already on a maintenance schedule, the possibility of seeing that light is very, very rare…preventive maintenance is key to avoiding that light!

So, pay heed, but don’t fear your “check Engine” light. And to prevent ever seeing that light, get your car, truck or SUV on a maintenance schedule with us here at Joel’s Automotive Repair.  It’s easy; make an appointment online, or call us at (909) 946-7687 and we’ll set up a schedule that fits your car and budget!