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What Should I Do When My Check Engine Light Comes On?

The first thing you should do when your check engine light comes on is to find a safe place to park your car. If you’re on the freeway and there aren’t any other noticeable signs of trouble, such as smoke or an unusual odor or sound, pull off at the next off-ramp and find a place to park. If you’re on the surface streets, pull over to a safe parking place. Without knowing why your check engine light came on, you could damage your vehicle if you keep driving it. Crossroads Automotive explains more below.

Check Your Gas Cap First

If you are pulling out of the gas station when your check engine light comes on, you may not have screwed your gas cap back on tightly. Once you’ve found a place to park, check your gas cap to make sure it isn’t loose or screwed on crooked. If it is, tighten it, start your car, and see if the check engine light turns off. If it did, the gas cap wasn’t sealing in the gasoline fumes and that was the problem. If it didn’t, head to an auto service shop for a diagnostic check.

What the Auto Shop Might Find

The reason why we recommend you head to an auto shop next is that the rest of the reasons why a check engine light comes on are usually only visible in diagnostic test results. For example, your check engine light might come on because the exhaust system’s oxygen sensor is going bad and there’s no way to see that yourself. The sensor is located behind the catalytic converter on the tailpipe. Other reasons why your check engine light came on include the

  • Catalytic converter
  • Electrical system
  • Main computer
  • Mass airflow sensor
  • Spark plugs

When the check engine light comes on, there is an error code stored in the main computer that tells us what happened. For example, if your mass airflow sensor failed, the diagnostic check will return the applicable code for that failure. We can easily see why your check engine light came on with the diagnostic check. Once we have the reason identified, we’ll tell you what it will take to fix the problem and then move forward with the repairs after your approval.

Located in Topeka, KS, we here at Crossroads Automotive deal with check engine lights every day. We can get to the bottom of your vehicle’s warning and get you back on the road in no time.

Photo by baloon111 from Getty Images via Canva Pro
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