The Check Engine Light (CEL) is the single most variable indicator on your vehicle. An illuminated CEL can indicate everything from a loose, missing, or damaged gas cap to transmission failure. It's often a catch-all kind of indicator that requires a technician to diagnose and read the results. Many people feel safe driving their vehicle despite the CEL being illuminated, but this isn't a great idea. Think of the CEL as an early warning of bigger and more expensive repair problems. If your CEL comes on, it's time to take your vehicle to a qualified service center.
How Do You Know What the Problem Is?
The easiest way to find out what your CEL is telling you is to take your vehicle to a qualified service center where a technician can hook your car up to a diagnostic computer. Once the diagnostic computer communicates with your car's computer, they'll be able to tell you exactly what fault the CEL is connected to.
What Can You Expect From the Diagnosis?
As noted above, there are many reasons your CEL is lit up on your dashboard. Perhaps you didn't get the gas cap back on the right the last time you filled up. This is an easy and inexpensive issue to fix. Simply remove and reseat your gas cap, or buy a new one if that doesn't work. There are, however, several very expensive issues that can be connected to an illuminated CEL.
What Are the Most Expensive Repairs Connected to the CEL?
While the faulty gas cap may only cost about $25 to fix, there are other much more costly repairs connected to the CEL. These issues include problems with a hybrid battery, a faulty transmission, and problems with the transmission assembly or cylinder head assembly. These types of problems can cost thousands to repair.
What Should You Do If Your Check Engine Light Comes On?
You don't need to panic when your CEL comes on unless there are other obvious signs of distress like your vehicle overheating, smoking, or clunking. If you observe these types of issues, you should pull over as soon as you safely can and call for a tow truck. If it's only that the CEL has come on, you can take time to reach your destination, but you should take your vehicle to a qualified service center and have them check for the reason the CEL is on. If you're in the Raleigh, NC, area, King's Auto Service is a great place to take your vehicle for the diagnosis of an illuminated CEL. Their qualified technicians will help you find the root cause of the CEL coming on and help you take action to repair the issue.