Our car maintenance tips and tricks
Jun 16

Ways to Interpret Your Engine Warning Light

As you’re driving along, have you ever been surprised by an appearance from a light saying “Check Engine” or some similar warning? It may appear as a solid light, or it may flash intermittently.

For some, it’s a slightly unsettling experience because the first thing running through their mind is the uncertainty and nervousness of not having any idea what could be wrong. Often, the car appears to be running normally. So, what is causing that light to appear?

Below are some common causes that make that warning light flash up:

1. Your spark plugs need attention

The spark plugs are the component that ignites the processes that make your engine work. If a spark plug is starting to fail, or its connecting wires have a problem, then this is a possible reason the light has come on suddenly.

2. An aftermarket part or mod

If you’re a motor enthusiast who is interested in switching out factory parts for third-party aftermarket components, then you should be ready for an increased chance in the warning light making an appearance. It doesn’t always indicate that there’s an actual problem, but the risk of incompatibility is always there. You may also have installed it wrong if you did it yourself.

When it comes to mods, it’s always best to enlist professional assistance wherever possible, at least to check the work you’ve done has been successful and won’t cause any issues to your car.

3. Your thermostat has a problem

The thermostat stops coolant from going into your car’s radiator before it has had a chance to properly warm up. When coolant flows into a cold engine, it can cause more wear and tear on the engine. Therefore, if the thermostat isn’t working properly, the coolant flow might be causing damage to your engine.

Fixing a thermostat is easier than having to replace the entire cooling system, so this is a time when it’s important to act on the advice of that light.

4. A broken oxygen sensor

Located in the exhaust manifold, this sensor gauges the fuel mixture and detects how well it’s burning. When the sensor isn’t operating normally, it’s impossible to know how much unburned oxygen is in the exhaust. That will certainly cause the light to come on.

Smart Mechanics Will Help Deal with the Light

All of the above are good reasons for you to seek out a mechanic’s help. Too many people flippantly ignore the lights, claiming they are “over-sensitive.” They add that they detect no problem in the car’s performance as evidence of this assertion.

The fact is, however, that there are more possible scenarios in which the light comes on for a genuine fault than not. One time it does come on for something minor might be if you don’t screw the fuel cap on properly. That’s hardly going to warrant a trip to the garage, but the others might.

Our advice here at Smart Mechanics is always to seek the help of your mechanic when you see the check engine light. If you’re in the Bishops Stortford area, you can also take advantage of our mobile mechanics service where we will bring our tools and knowhow to you.

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(We cannot provide any warranty on parts supplied by the customer.)