Have you ever been driving when you looked down at your dashboard and noticed your check engine light was on? Instinctively, you start listening for problem noises. Did you hear that rattle, or did you imagine it? Is your car sputtering, or has it been doing that all along? Can you afford to ignore this warning and hope that it goes away?
Your Check Engine Light Is There for a Reason
It can save you thousands of dollars if you let it do its job. It is attached to an onboard diagnostic system (OBD in auto repair language). It is a rather handy little device that monitors many of your vehicle's important processes.
If you are just starting your engine, the check engine warning should usually light up for a few seconds. The same is true with other lights on your dashboard. However, if this money-saving warning light stays lit while you are driving, it means that your diagnostics system has identified some type of problem.
Sometimes, this could be as insignificant as your gas cap being loose.
In older cars there could simply be a fault in your wiring that causes your light to activate. However, ignoring this warning system is not the correct way to handle the problem. After all, if you have a faulty set of plugs and don't take care of the problem, you could be spending a lot more money than you should to get your car running once again.
Never mind the fact that you will not have the access to your vehicle. This could mean renting a car, or simply going without. On some vehicles, the check engine light flashes when there is a problem. On some systems, it means something different when it flashes than if it is constantly lit. So what should you do?
What Is the Safest and Least Expensive Way to Find out Exactly What Your Check Engine Light Is Telling You?
Before bringing your vehicle in to us, check your gas cap. If it is loose, this can trigger a check engine light. Shut off your vehicle, remove and then replace your gas cap, tighten it, and then start your car up again. If this does not take care of the problem, check your gas cap and replace it if it has a worn or rotted gasket.
If that didn't fix the issue, and your check engine light is constantly screaming at you that there is some issue that needs to be addressed, you know what to do next. If you live in the Sherman, Texas area, give us a call here at Campbell Garage. We will see you as soon as possible, to make sure that you do not let a minor problem lead to a much bigger (and more expensive) issue.
We will tie into your OBD, and your computer will talk to ours. You might just have a bad oxygen sensor, or need a new set of plugs. Taking care of these minor problems now keeps you on the road, and just as importantly, doesn't lead to more serious and costly damage by ignoring the issue.
In case you're wondering, some of most common car repairs associated with a check engine light (and an national average cost) are listed here:
Replace or tighten gas cap – $15
Replace thermostat – $210
Place catalytic converter – $1,153
Replace ignition coils – $236
Replace spark plugs and spark plug wires – $331
Replace oxygen sensor – $249
Those top check engine light repairs were discovered by sifting through data from more than a million reported repairs that took place in 2015. (Data from CarMD's US 2016 Vehicle Health Index).
The Big Takeaway Here?
If tightening your fuel cap doesn't turn off your check engine light, give us a call right away. If you are in the area, stop by. Our contact details are below. Remember that all of the most common check engine light problems listed above can lead to much more expensive problems, or a total breakdown, if you ignore them. Contact us at (903) 631-0500.