As it chimes and the message flashes across the screen, you’re filled with anxiety. Yes, your check engine light is illuminating your dashboard. Should you pull over? Are you in danger? Will your car blow up? No. But your pockets may blow up depending on the repair costs. Essentially, there are 5 major reasons why your engine light will light up:
Your Gas Cap is loose or cracked.
This is the easiest thing to check if your check engine light is on. Besides doing the obvious, holding gas in your tank, it also maintains pressure in your fuel tank by stopping the gas from evaporating. It will probably be the cheapest part to replace. Costs can range between $20 to $60.
Your Spark Plugs need checking.
Think of your Spark Plugs as firecrackers. They ignite the air/fuel mixture in the combustion chamber giving your car power. It’s important to check your car manual for information on how often to change your Spark Plugs. It can range between 30,000 – 100,000 miles. The cost for spark plug replacement can vary also. Spark plugs themselves are not expensive. But of course, labor can bring the price to over $100. Monitoring the conditions of your spark plugs and wires will help prevent your check engine light from bothering you and your pockets.
Your Oxygen Sensor needs replacing.
Your Oxygen (O2) Senor plays a vital part in your car operating (as do many other parts). The O2 sensor measures the amount of unburned oxygen in your vehicle’s exhaust system. In simple terms, it measures your fuel mixture by comparing the oxygen inside and outside your exhaust. Its job, essentially, is to keep the perfect balance between oxygen and fuel. When fuel economy drops by 40%, your check engine light turns on, signifying that it’s time for a change. Costs to replace this part can reach up to $200. If it isn't changed, it can damage your spark plugs and catalytic converter, leading to more costs.
Your Mass Airflow Sensor needs cleaning.
A dirty Mass Airflow Sensor could be another reason why your check engine light is on. The Mass Airflow Sensor measures air entering the engine. It determines how much fuel is needed to run your vehicle efficiently, and it helps restore lost performance. If this part isn’t taken care of, it can damage your spark plugs, O2 sensors and catalytic converter. Reduced performance and fuel economy may signify that this part needs cleaning or replacing, which can cost you a little over $100.
Your Catalytic Converter is faulty.
Your Catalytic Converter is the “greenist” component of your vehicle. It converts carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide with heat reaching between 1200° – 1600° F. It is the key component in determining whether or not you pass your emissions test. Besides the yellow check engine light being on, reduced performance and fuel economy are signs that your Catalytic Converter needs changing. The catalytic converter will probably be the most expensive part to replace. Prices can reach over $1,000. In fact, this hunk of metal is so valuable that it has become a common target for thieves.
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