Why Is the Check Engine Light On?

Check Engine Light

All drivers know that their check engine light is a warning sign that something about the vehicle is not right. However, it can be difficult to determine how serious the issue is, and what needs to be done about it. Southern California Ford Dealers is here to shed some light on what the check engine light is trying to tell you and give you some tips on how to go about handling the situation.

Any time a warning light illuminates, there is cause for concern. The check engine light is the most generic of the standard warning lights and can cover a broad spectrum of issues. However, there is only one way to find out what the problem is regardless.

To understand what the check engine light is trying to tell you, you must understand that the OBD (on-board diagnostic) system is essentially a computer that reads a lot of various sensors in the vehicle. When one of these sensors shows a reading that is unusual or out of specified parameters, you will see a check engine light on.

Scanning for Codes

Once the check engine light has come on, you will need to “scan” the vehicle’s OBD system to find out what sensor has set off the warning light. Depending on the component or system that is having issues, you will receive a particular code that pertains to that system. The code or codes, as there may be more than one, will need to be interpreted. From there, testing and diagnostics can be done to determine and verify exactly what is wrong.

How Serious Is the Check Engine Light?

Due to the fact the check engine light is a very generic warning light, it can illuminate for a serious problem or a minor issue. If more than one warning light turns on, such as the battery light or ABS light in addition to the check engine light, you have a better idea of what might be going wrong. Multiple warning lights illuminating together is a strong indicator you need to pull over somewhere safe or head straight to a repair center.

If a check engine light illuminates at start up or while driving, but the vehicle is running normally, you may not have a serious matter on your hands. Either way, you will want to get the engine codes read with a scan tool as soon as possible. Only then will you truly know if you need to seek help or make repairs immediately.

Color Coded Warning Lights

The warning lights on your dashboard are also color coded for your convenience. Green warning lights are just informational indicators, and do not actually mean something needs immediate attention. Yellow lights are simply drawing your attention to a minor detail, while amber warning lights start to indicate something more serious is happening. Red warning lights, such as the check engine light, lets you know something needs your immediate attention now.

Next time a check engine light turns on in your vehicle, come see the professionals at your local Ford service center in Southern California. Your car care and car maintenance specialists are ready to help you make sense of any recent warnings that may have popped up on your dashboard. Your local Ford dealers are happy to answer all your questions or schedule your next service appointment with us today. We service all makes and models.