Your vehicle is equipped with a series of sensors and warning lights to alert you to any potential issue. From compromised car parts to dangerous levels of heat, these sensors are designed to be the first warning sign that it’s time for a routine maintenance task or emergency repair. Learn more about the steps you should take when your check engine light comes on.
Signs of a Failing Battery
One cause of a check engine light is a failed car battery. Here are the signs that your warning light may be caused by your battery:
- Flickering lights
- The battery is over three years old
- The battery warning light comes on along with the check engine light
- The engine stalls
- The starter doesn’t work
Replacing your car battery is a straightforward process. Be sure to test it before you remove it and take it to a participating automotive battery recycling center. Replacing a battery requires an adjustable wrench or socket set and safety gear.
Don’t Ignore the Light
Your check engine light is an important warning sign. Some issues don’t require you to immediately pull over and stop driving your vehicle, but every situation should be treated seriously. You can typically wait until you get home or reach your destination but pull over as soon as you can safely do so if you hear loud grinding, see dark smoke or smell strong burning odors.
Failure to treat the light seriously could result in additional damage to critical components. An overheating engine or damaged sensor could lead to engine damage, transmission damage or other issues. If the light turns on due to a brake or power steering issue, then you may lose control of your vehicle if you don’t respond to the warning promptly.
Inspect Your Gas Cap
One trick you can try as soon as you see the check engine light turn on is to inspect your gas cap. This simple problem is one of the most common causes of a check engine light.
Pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so and look at the gas cap. See if it’s cracked, loose, missing or installed improperly. Turn your car back on and see if this removes the warning light.
Slow Down Safely
Some check engine light issues are relatively harmless but many point to a maintenance issue. It’s a good idea to slow down and drive cautiously until you can stop and thoroughly inspect the problem. A visual inspection can help you notice any major issues under the hood, in the undercarriage or around the wheels.
Use an OBD Scanner
An OBD scanner is a great tool to use for a more in-depth inspection. These helpful scanners connect to your vehicle’s system to identify any electrical issues. It points to the specific sensor that triggered the warning light, giving you useful information as you visually inspect your vehicle for signs of damage.
Find High-Quality Replacement Parts
From a minor tune-up to a major overhaul, many check engine light issues require replacement parts. Shop online or at a trusted automotive parts store to find highly rated brands, competitive prices and helpful installation guides.