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Three Reasons Why Your Check Engine Light is On

posted 07 May, 2018 by Julie Briggs
Car Care

Here’s the thing about check engine lights: they are always inconvenient. Whether you are running late to work or hurrying to pick your kid up from class, they always seem to happen just when you don’t have time to spare. However, while it may be tempting to let it slide, the answer should never be to ignore it and hope it goes away. Yes, sometimes that dreaded light can mean something major (and expensive), but the good news is that often, the problem is quick and affordable to fix and get you safely back in the carpool lane.

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Here are the three most common reasons why your check engine light is on:

Oxygen Sensor

When it comes to car maintenance, this is an auto part that most everyday drivers pay little mind to. However, when it's acting up, your O2 sensor will be amongst the first to let you know loud and clear. Be careful letting this one fall by the wayside, failure to act could mean an up to 40% decrease in fuel economy ($$$) and damage to your spark plugs over time.

Loose or Missing Gas Cap

This sounds like a no-brainer, but also so relatable. It happens to the best of us, but forgetting or losing your gas cap after a top-off is a surefire way to trigger that annoying light, and cause some more inconvenient issues. Failure to replace your gas cap means your vehicle will likely not pass an emissions test, will likely experience reduced fuel economy, and may run at a damagingly high temperature. The easiest solution is to be mindful of the pump and check this first when you get the alert.

Mass Airflow Center (MAF) Needs Replacing

Much like a living organism, vehicles are dependent on a delicate balance of oxygen to function at their best performance. The MAF is there to measure the amount of O2 and determine how much fuel is needed to run the engine properly. Without proper maintenance, a fault MAF can lead to spark plug, O2 converter, and catalytic converter damage as well as reduced fuel economy and driving performance over time.

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Posted in Car Care

Written by Julie Briggs

Cat mom and skeeball enthusiast based in New York, NY.