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The Engine Light: What It Could Mean and What to Do About It

Car Service Indicator

Check engine light

There’s a good chance you do a lot of driving around in your car, and when an issue pops up, you just drive it to a mechanic’s shop or have it towed. But sometimes you may not have to automatically go to a repair shop; there are times where if you understand what’s going on with your car, you’ll know what to do about it and potentially save time and money down the road. That’s why our team at Leale’s Transmission & Auto Services is here to let you know what to do when the dreaded engine light turns on!

What’s The Engine Light Mean?

The check engine light belongs to the onboard diagnostics system on your car. The computers on your vehicle control and monitor vehicle performance. If there’s a problem that it can’t fix, the computer will turn on an indicator (the “Check Engine” light) and store a trouble code to identify the problem. With a scan tool or a diagnostic computer, the code can be read and solved—which you can do if you’re a DIYer; otherwise, you’ll often have to go to a repair shop. Even with a code scanner, interpreting the code correctly can be difficult, so it’s recommended to take it to the experts. Most importantly, don’t ignore the light. But when the light comes on, here are a few of the problems it could mean.

  • Replace the Oxygen Sensor. It’s the part of the car that keeps track of the unburned oxygen from the exhaust and monitors the amount of fuel burned. If the sensor isn’t functioning properly, there could be a decrease in gas mileage. Your engine will burn too much fuel and there could be damage to the spark plug. Take your car to a shop, or unclip and replace the old sensor with a new one if you know where it is.

  • Replace the Catalytic Converter. This part of the car reduces exhaust gases and converts carbon monoxide into harmless compounds. If it’s not functioning properly, your car won’t run properly and your mileage will dramatically increase. Take your car to a mechanic ASAP for proper diagnosis.

  • You Have a Loose or Malfunctioning Gas Cap. While you may not think that the gas cap is pretty important, a loose gas cap means the fuel vapors will trickle out and can put the whole fuel system at risk. You’ll increase emissions and have poorer gas mileage, but there are some things you can do. If the light is on but there’s no shaking or jerking, tighten the gas cap and see if it’s cracked. You can also buy a gas cap at a store and get it replaced.

Where Do I Take My Car To?

When it’s time to take your car to an auto repair shop, choose Leale’s Transmission & Auto Services. With our superior diagnostic and repair services in the San Jose, CA area, we’re confident we can solve all your vehicle issues for you. For an appointment, call us at (408) 286-5353 today!