"Check Engine" light is on? Time to bring your car to a trusted auto repair shop
“12:00 … 12:00 … 12:00.” If you were around in the days of VCRs, you probably remember the repetitive flashing of that number. Back when VCRs were state of the art, most of the video machines included a clock with a digital display on the front. For those who were not entirely technically savvy, programming the clock was a nuisance they often skipped.
As a result, instead of the time changing every sixty seconds, “12:00” flashed endlessly on the front of the machine. People got used to it. They learned to ignore it, mostly.
Today, many drivers have learned to ignore another indicator light. This one, instead of telling the time, and located in their vehicle rather than in the house, is the “Check Engine” light that one day appeared in their dashboard. As with the flashing “12:00” they got used to it until, virtually, they just didn’t see it anymore.
“Unfortunately, though drivers can sometimes get away without doing anything about the ‘Check Engine’ light for a while, other times, they can’t,” said Denny Norton, the owner of Performance Unlimited, one of the area’s leading auto repair shops.
Engines are comprised of hundreds of parts choreographed to operate in unison. That partnership creates energy that is transferred through the transmission to the wheels providing propulsion. Just as the human body can sometimes operate for years with a increasing heart disease or problems with other internal organs, an engine can sometimes do the same. And, sometimes it can’t.
The “Check Engine” light comes on when the On-Board Diagnostic System (OBD) recognizes a problem with the engine and power-train control system. The problem can be trivial or major; the light doesn’t shine any brighter either way though, in some cases, it may flash in a particular sequence to indicate a particular problem.
The sequence of a flashing “Check Engine” light doesn’t mean much to someone who doesn’t know what the sequence indicates. However, checking with a trusted auto repair technician will usually bring a quick answer.
There are two primary problems with ignoring the “Check Engine” light. One is that, whatever the problem, even if not a major problem initially, it can develop into something more significant and more costly.
“The other problem is that, once the light is on, it’s on,” Norton said. “If you have another problem one day, the light’s already on and you have no warning of another problem.”
Another issue with a “Check Engine” light is that, when it’s on, a car cannot pass an emissions test. If you bring the car in to a testing center with the light on, the car will automatically fail the test and you’ll have to bring it somewhere to have the issue addressed. But, passing an emissions test is the least imperative reason to have things checked out when the light comes on.
“A qualified auto repair technician will quickly get to the bottom of the problem,” Norton said. “If it’s something major, they may save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run. And, if it’s something minor, they can fix that, too, while giving you peace of mind.”