What Does It Mean If My Check Engine Light Goes on?

Posted May 21, 2014

check engine light

Of all your car’s warning signals, the check engine light is the most frustrating. When the oil light goes on, you know your car is low on oil. Likewise, the seatbelt light is pretty straightforward. But when the check engine light goes on, the problem isn’t so simple. It could be one of a long list of issues, some of which are rather urgent. One thing is certain: the check engine light always seems to go on at the least opportune time, just when you don’t need to worry about one more thing.

What does the check engine light mean?

Your check engine light could mean a number of things:

  • Loose gas cap
  • Blown head gasket
  • Worn out spark plugs
  • Faulty oxygen sensors
  • Loose or cracked hoses or manifolds
  • Faulty fuel injector
  • Bad mass airflow sensor

Quick Fix: Loose Fuel Cap

If the problem is a loose gas cap, the solution is simple. Stop the car, tighten the gas cap with a few more clicks, and then check to see if the light is still on. If it has turned off, great! If not, you should drive over to your local garage and have them run a diagnostic test on your vehicle. Your engine may not be in danger of impending explosion, but a poorly functioning engine is also far less fuel efficient and emits more pollutants and fumes.

Ignoring the Check Engine Light

Ignoring the check engine light can lead to more costly problems down the road. Small things like bad spark plugs are simple and cheap to fix, so it’s good to get these issues taken care of ASAP. If you fail to replace those spark plugs or faulty oxygen sensors, your catalytic converter will eventually break down, and that’s a more expensive repair. Though it may seem like a hassle, making the effort to get your car checked out is a smarter strategy in the long run. You won’t have to worry about stalling out on the highway or breaking down in the middle of nowhere (plus an expensive towing bill)


So while the check engine light shouldn’t be enormously anxiety provoking, it’s definitely a sign that something is wrong. Take the time to give your car the attention it needs. If your check engine light is giving you trouble, give Veenstra’s a call at 616.45.6597 to schedule your 22-point inspection. We’d be more than happy to help you figure out – and fix – the problem to keep you driving safely.

Categories: Car Care|Services

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