What to do when the “Check Engine” light comes on?

Of all the warning lights that can be displayed in your dashboard, the famous “Check Engine” is probably the one that motorists fear most.

The big problem when this light appears is that it can mean a thousand and one things. The “Check Engine” can light up for a reason as commonplace as fuel filler cap that has not been properly replaced. But it can also signal a more serious problem that could cost you dearly.

If the indicator light suddenly lights up on your dashboard, here are three rules to follow to manage the situation properly.

Don’t panic

No, the appearance of the “Check Engine” does not mean that your car is suddenly non-functional and that you must stop as soon as possible.

In most cases, the activation of this symbol is related to a defective sensor or a part that may need to be replaced. No urgency.

However, if the indicator light starts flashing, it is more serious. This is an immediate problem that could damage your vehicle. At this time, it is recommended to stop in a safe place and turn off the engine.

Identify the problem

All modern vehicles (from model year 1996 onwards) are equipped with an OBD-II socket, usually installed under the steering wheel.

You can purchase an OBD-II reader for $50 or less.

You will then be able to connect the device directly to your car and understand the problem highlighted by your “Check Engine”.

If you do not have an OBD-II reader or are not comfortable using it, a visit to your dealer will also help you shed light on the issue.

Fix the problem

Regardless of the nature of the problem, it is strongly recommended to resolve it as soon as possible.

In Quebec, where mechanical inspections are not mandatory even for older vehicles, it can be tempting not to have your car repaired if it remains functional.

Be aware, however, that even a minor mechanical failure can lead to more failures over time if it is not fixed. The “Check Engine” can also mean a catalyst problem, which can make your car much more polluting than it should be.

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