Don’t Ignore That Check Engine Light

When your Check Engine light comes on it’s not a suggestion and it’s not a reason to cover up the light with a piece tape either.  Typically your vehicle, especially newer cars and trucks, will very clearly tell you what you need to do, be it low tire pressure, oil change time, door ajar, and more. However at times, you will see the dreaded check engine light… What does that mean though?  Are you about to be hit with hundreds of dollars in car repairs?

Vehicle with Check Engine Light IlluminatedDon’t worry about that check engine light too much, but definitely don’t ignore it either.  Oftentimes your vehicle will trigger a check engine warning when something very minor is causing an issue.  Here are the most frequent causes of a check engine light.  Regardless, if you see that dashboard’s orange glow take action and call or connect with your local mechanic to get it addressed quickly.  The more quickly you get it addressed, the more likely you can avoid costly vehicle damage.  If you’re in the Myrtle Beach area, call us at Turn Key Automotive at (843) 293-6793 or request an appointment to have the check engine light checked out and turned off.  In most cases you’ll be in and out in no time.

Check Engine Reason #1: Loose Gas Cap

Yep, a loose gas cap can cause your check engine light to come on. Before you worry or call your mechanic, turn off your car, check your fuel cap, and restart.  If the light is off, do a little dance, you’re in the clear.

Why does a loose gas cap matter?  Simply put, your gas sloshes around a lot in your tank and not only will you end up losing gas, you’ll be putting gas fumes directly into the environment.  On top of that you will be altering the pressure with your fuel system that may result in reduced vehicle performance.

If the free fix (checking the gas cap) didn’t work you will need to head into the mechanic to have them diagnose the issue.  Any reputable mechanic, such as Turn Key Automotive, will be very open and show you the diagnostic report and what repairs are needed.

Check Engine Reason #2: Oxygen Sensor

A bad O2 sensor is a relatively inexpensive repair, typically around $200 (depending on your vehicle), but one that if not addressed quickly can lead to more costly problems down the road.  Your vehicle’s oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburnt oxygen in your fuel system and works with your vehicle’s computer system to optimize your performance. If you have a bad O2 sensor you’ll experience:

  • Lower fuel economy (less miles per gallon)
  • Burn more fuel than needed resulting in a exhaust issues
  • Cause premature wear to your catalytic converter
  • Cause damage to your spark plugs

Check Engine Reason #3: Catalytic Converter

The next most common cause for a check engine light is a bad, or failing, catalytic converter.  Your car’s catalytic converter is part the exhaust system and is critical for keeping both your car and your environment in good condition.  It’s job is to convert harmful carbon monoxide into harmless carbon dioxide.  Since your car or truck is designed to run with a functioning catalytic converter, if you have a bad one you will see increased emissions, a vehicle that runs hot, and a significant loss in fuel economy.

Unfortunately replacing a catalytic converter is not the cheapest repair.  Depending on the make and model of your car or truck you will be looking at anywhere between $400 t0 $800 for the entire job.  Fortunately Todd and the team at Turn Key Automotive will do everything they can to keep your costs to a minimum so you’ll be able to get back on the Myrtle Beach roads with a little cash left in your pocket.

Check Engine Reason #4: Mass Airflow Sensor

You may not even know what a mass airflow sensor is, but you be assured that your car or truck does it one, it is also a common cause of the dreaded check engine light.  The mass airflow sensor is what determines how much air your vehicle needs for optimum fuel efficiency.  A failing mass airflow sensor (also known as a MAS) will cause several issues that you’ll notice:

  • Trouble starting your vehicle or getting your engine to turn over
  • Stalling engine, typically after starting
  • Engine does not accelerate smoothly or is jumpy
  • The engine constantly hiccups and doesn’t run smoothly

Replacing your MAS will run a few hundred dollars, around $300 depending on your vehicle.  However if you have a bad MAS you most likely won’t need your check engine light to tell you something is wrong.  You’ll know you have an issue and should be planning a trip to the mechanic as soon as possible.

Check Engine Reason #5: Spark Plugs or Plug Wires

Like your mass airflow sensor above, you’ll know you have a problem if your spark plugs and/or wires are starting to fail.  And just like your MAS, bad plugs or wires will trigger your check engine light.  Standard spark plugs have a life between 30-50,000 miles.  If you see that engine line come on it is very likely that your plugs are starting to fail.  The good news is replacing your plugs and possibly wires is not that expensive.  Like all repairs it depends on your specific vehicle but oftentimes replacing spark plugs can be done for under $200.

There are plenty of signs of your plugs starting to go bad, but typically you’ll notice a decline in performance, engine sputtering, and not starting easily.

Fixing Your Check Engine Light In One Easy Step

We’ve covered the most common causes of check engine light, but many more exist. Your best, and easiest, bet to solve your check engine light issues is to take your car to a certified mechanic.  They will be able to diagnose your issue quickly and give you an estimate in advance for repairs.  If your engine light is on, give us a call here at Turn Key Automotive.  Our staff of ASE certified mechanics can lend our decades of experience in Myrtle Beach to you and get you back on the road.

Need help with your check engine light? Give us a call at (843) 293-6793 or request an appointment today!

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