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Midland Living Magazine

That Infamous Check Engine Light

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It’s a situation that has likely happened to you. You’re driving down the road when out of nowhere the words “check engine” illuminate from the dashboard. While this glowing symbol may cause you to panic, there are a few things you should know about this common issue.

“Motorists should not get spooked when the check engine light comes on,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “When illuminated, the check engine light usually means that a vehicle system, such as the ignition, fuel injection or emission control, is not operating properly.”

List of common causes:

Common malfunctions that can cause the check engine light to illuminate include a faulty oxygen sensor, mass air flow sensor, or spark plugs and wires. If the light flashes, the condition is more critical and must be checked immediately to prevent severe damage, which may include catalytic converter damage.

“Even if the vehicle appears to be running normally, ignoring the warning light could result in more costly repairs,” continued White. “At the very least, the light could be alerting you to an engine problem that is negatively impacting fuel economy and costing you money.”

Seek professional assistance

When scheduling service, make sure the repair shop that examines your vehicle has professional technicians who are trained and certified in OBDII diagnosis and repair. The technician will connect your vehicle’s computer system to a diagnostic scan tool, which will provide trouble codes indicating why the check engine light was activated. Once the problem is identified and the repair is made, the car’s computer is then reset.

For more information about the check engine light and other maintenance information regarding your automobile, visit

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