The 3 Steps Of The Check Engine Light

One of the most common reasons for taking a car into the shop is to figure out why that pesky check engine light is on. If you see your dash light up with this warning, take these three steps to address it. 

Step 1: Act on it 
First thing's first: Don't ignore the check engine light. While it may blend in with the many other lights and gauges on your dash, it flicks on for a reason. Even if yours is constantly turning on and off, you need to have the problem examined – it's good for your safety and your wallet. 

"Even if the vehicle appears to be running normally, ignoring the warning light could result in more costly repairs," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. "At the very least, the light could be alerting you to an engine problem that is negatively impacting fuel economy and costing you money."

Step 2: Keep a level head
You shouldn't automatically assume anything about your check engine light. If the light is steady, then it's likely a standard problem that can be fixed with a quick tune up or a replacement part. There's no reason to freak out when this alert comes on, although that doesn't mean you should procrastinate a visit to a mechanic. 

"Motorists should not get spooked when the check engine light comes on," White continued. "When illuminated, the check engine light usually means that a vehicle system, such as the ignition, fuel injection or emission control, is not operating properly."

The exception to this comes when the check engine light blinks instead of simply remaining lit. In these instances, the light is trying to alert you of a bigger problem going on under the hood, and immediate action must be taken. Take care to slow down and ease off the power, then get your ride to an expert right away. 

Step 3: Stay on top of maintenance
It's important to remember that each time the check engine light turns on, it's a new problem you must address. Just because a past instance was a fluke or an easy fix doesn't mean it's always going to be that way. You need to regard each warning light as a potentially serious problem, and that means scheduling an appointment with a professional as soon as possible. The Total Car Care Center at NJ State Auto can help in this regard, as the garage caters to the public and can address any issue you may have.