What Does Check Engine Mean?

A stock photo showing a check engine light turned on.

Do You Need to Worry About the Check Engine Light?

There aren’t many things that can trigger dread in a vehicle owner faster than an illuminated check engine light. Obviously, the engine is the most important part of an automobile and any problems associated with it have the potential to get very expensive, very quickly. Hardly a week passes that someone doesn’t call the S&B Keswick Service Department to ask how seriously they should be concerned about the check engine light. There are many reasons this warning light has turned on and the only way to figure out the problem is to run the diagnostics. Here are a few issues that could cause a check engine light to activate.

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Most Common Reasons a Check Engine Light Turns On

Engine problems are nothing to play around with. When you see your car’s check engine light turn on, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with the S&B Keswick Service Department. We asked our technicians to rank the potential causes of the light to come-on, starting with the least severe.

  • Loose Gas Cap: If you put the gas cap on incorrectly after filling up the tank, the oxygen sensors can falsely throw a code that activates the light. Simply check the gas cap to make sure it’s seated correctly and the light should go away.
  • Fouled Spark Plugs: It takes a small spark to ignite the fuel-air mixture in an engine to make it run. Bad spark plugs cause the fuel to burn inefficiently and that could easily set off the sensors.
  • Dirty Air Filter: Similarly to the spark plug issue, an exceptionally dirty air filter could be sending contaminated air into the combustion chambers, again causing the fuel to burn inefficiently.
  • Faulty Catalytic Converter: A catalytic converter scrubs the exhaust of harmful particles before it is released into the atmosphere. If it becomes clogged, the vehicle’s diagnostic software could activate the check engine light.
  • Transmission Problems: The transmission directly affects an engine’s performance. A transmission that is experiencing problems could cause an increase in emissions as well as a check engine light to turn on.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Check Engine Light?

Because there are so many things that can cause a check engine light to turn on, there is no real accurate way to estimate how much a repair will cost. Naturally, it will depend on what the problem actually is. If the issue is something as simple as a loose gas cap, the cost to repair would be nominal. However, as the problem rises in severity and involves more complex systems like the transmission, the repair bills could easily reach into the thousands of dollars. Ignoring the problem will only increase the final cost of the repairs.

Make an appointment with the S&B Keswick Service Department today if you have noticed something is wrong with your vehicle, or if you just would like to know everything is working fine.