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Is your Check Engine Light On? Here are 8 Reasons Why

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Check Engine Light

Your car’s Check Engine Light (CEL) illuminates when its main computer senses that something is wrong. With the engine. Considering that the engine is probably the most important part of your car, you want to make sure it’s in top operating shape.

Here are eight reasons why your Check Engine Light is on and what you could possibly do about them.

Your Fuel Cap Isn’t Tightened

Did you know what the fuel cap has to be tightened in order for your car’s Evaporative Emission Control (EVAP) system to work properly? If your CEL light ever comes on, your first impulse is to check that the fuel cap is tightly on.

The EVAP system prevents fuel vapors in the fuel tank from escaping into the atmosphere, trapping fuel vapors and temporarily storing them in a charcoal canister.

You Need a New Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Control Valve

The Purge Control Valve is another, less conspicuous component of your car’s EVAP system.  When your car’s engine is fully warmed up, the main CPU module slowly opens the purge valve to allow some fuel vapor to be sucked from the charcoal canister to be burned in your engine.

The purge valve sometimes sticks or does not close fully, causing the “Check Engine” warning light to come on.

Spark Plug Wire(s) and Spark Plug(s) Problems

Faulty spark plug wires and/or spark plugs can cause a “misfire,” reducing gas mileage and possibly damaging the vehicle’s catalytic converter.  If you’re experiencing this issue, then chances are you need to replace the spark plugs and/or wires.

Mass Air Flow Sensor needs to be replaced

The mass air flow sensor measures the air coming into your vehicle’s engine and works with the main CPU to determine how much fuel to send into the engine. If the mass air flow sensor is malfunctioning, fuel economy will typically drop and the engine will run rough.

Ignition Coil(s) require replacing

Ignition coils provide high voltage to your spark plugs. Like spark plug wires, many conditions can result in the failure of ignition coils, such as high engine bay temperatures and age. Car owners should pay special attention because ignition coil failure damages the vehicle’s catalytic converter.

You Need a New Thermostat

The thermostat is supposed to regulate the engine coolant temperature in the engine’s block/radiator system. If a thermostat fails, if often gets stuck open. If the car’s computer doesn’t see the engine coolant temperature go up to operating temperature within a certain period of time, the check engine light will come on.

Get a New Oxygen Sensor

The most common vehicle repair when the CEL illuminates is a faulty oxygen sensor. This sensor is extremely important to a car’s engine performance.  O2 sensors fail prematurely for a number of reasons but usually it’s just a matter of age.  When ignored, an O2 sensor that’s not working at its best anymore could result in as much as a 40% reduction in gas mileage.

Your Catalytic Converter needs a replacement

Hopefully you never need to replace a catalytic converter because they are very expensive.  In many cases, a catalytic converter won’t fail unless a misfire happens, which can be caused by ignoring a faulty ignition coil, spark plug or engine mechanical problem.  Bottom line: if your CEL illuminates, have a mechanic check it out.

When your CEL illuminates, the repair technicians at East Hills Chevrolet of Roslyn, a local NY Chevrolet dealer, state it is seldom an emergency situation but it is something that you may wish to bring to a mechanic to evaluate as soon as you can!

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