When the “check engine light” comes on you can pound on the dashboard all you want hollering “Why Always Me. This Car Is A Lemon Etc, etc, etc. Is it the car or is it you? Read on.
If the “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon” light on your auto comes on it does not mean you have to panic. Take stock of the events that were happening when it came on, if possible.

 For example, does the engine run rough and misfire, is the speedometer not working, do you smell a rotten egg odor, is there a loss of power or maybe you just got gas a few days ago. These are some of the things that will trigger this light.

 If the engine runs rough and misfires you should go to the auto dealer for your brand of vehicle as soon as possible. This problem may be caused by a faulty spark plug, wire, or coil. You should not drive for any extensive time with these symptoms because the catalytic converters may become damaged. If the speedometer does not work it may just be a speed sensor problem which may also affect the shift pattern of the transmission. This should also be checked as soon as possible. A rotten egg odor or any strange exhaust odors are most likely emission related problems such as a rich or lean running condition possibly triggered by a bad O2 sensor or something causing the O2 sensor to react trying to compensate for a problem. This should also be checked fairly soon.

 The most common problem for a “check engine” light is a missing or loose gas cap. This will not cause any drivability problems. If your auto develops a “check engine” light shortly after getting gas check and see if the cap is tight and that the retaining strap is not wedged underneath it. When refueling your auto makes sure you hear several clicks when the attendant or you put the cap back on. Do not leave the engine running or have the ignition key in the on position when refueling. This too will cause the light to come on. If your cap was loose just tighten it and within a few drive cycles the computer should be happy and turn the light off. If not a trip to your repair shop is in order to scan the computer for fault codes.

 Most owners’ manuals will show the extent of warranty for these emission control problems. You may be pleasantly surprised at the coverage. Don’t panic, just use common sense to have these problems corrected. Rarely does an auto have to be towed to the shop for this light.

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