Car Troubles / DIY Buyers / Engines / Part Needs

Check Engine Light : What Your Car is Trying to Tell You

Car Troubles / DIY Buyers / Engines / Part Needs

Check Engine Light: Don’t Ignore Its Humble Pleas

It is estimated that one in 10 vehicles on the road has its check engine light on. This yellow or orange light causes stress for many drivers due to the amount of money it could take to fix the problem. Many drivers ignore the light, some going so far as to cover it with black tape (say what?!?). Obviously, that’s not the answer. Your vehicle’s check engine light is simply telling you the vehicle isn’t running quite right, which could just be a minor fix, i.e. tightening the gas cap, or something more involved, like replacing the catalytic converter.

What’s a Check Engine Light?

check engine lightAccording to, a vehicle’s check engine light, or malfunction indication light, is designed to keep the driver informed of any number of sensor failures or engine irregularities. Today’s vehicles are more complex than ever with sensors that tell its computer system everything from ambient air temperature to the amount of oxygen in its exhaust gasses. A vehicle’s emission sensors, i.e. oxygen sensors, mass air flow sensors and catalytic converters, help determine if your engine is running at its best, or if there is a problem.

The vehicle’s on-board computer, or engine control unit (ECU), then makes adjustments to ensure that the engine is running as efficiently, and cleanly, as possible in the given conditions, according to

My Check Engine Light is on. Now What?

If your vehicle’s check engine light comes on, your best bet is to visit your mechanic so he or she can diagnose the problem. It usually costs around $75 for a mechanic to check the check engine light codes. noted there are also devices available that can be purchased by the do-it-yourselfer which can help determine your vehicle’s problem. But, unless you are a professional, some of the fixes could be out of the reach of a home mechanic. listed the most common causes for a check engine light to come on:

  1. Replace Oxygen Sensor – if not repaired, this can lead to damage to the catalytic converter.
  2. Replace Catalytic Converter – if not replaced, it can cause permanent harm to your engine. This is one of the most expensive repairs, costing more than $1,000.
  3. Ignition Coils – not replacing these can also lead to a damaged catalytic converter.
  4. Tighten or Replace Gas Cap – the best case scenario.
  5. Replace Thermostat – an engine that runs too cold or too hot can destroy its internal components.

Don’t Ignore Your Check Engine Light

The danger comes from ignoring the light completely, which could cause more problems than you initially had. For example, say your check engine light comes on because your spark plugs or wires need to be replaced. If this small fix is ignored, damaged wires and plugs start to cause your engine to work harder, which can cause oxygen sensors to fail, which can lead to damaging the catalytic converter, causing permanent engine damage.

While no driver hopes to replace an engine, especially one that failed from neglect, it does happen. Luckily has the solution; quality replacement engines that can be purchased quickly, easily and safely. has millions of recycled engines and remanufactured engines in its online inventory. A used engine is way cheaper than a new one, many times costing 50% less. Buying a replacement engine from can ease the headache and stress of a major repair.

Erin Sandage
Erin Sandage
Senior Editor at The Locator
Erin has written articles on the automotive industry since 2008 with a specific focus on automotive recycling. She also serves as Senior Editor for The Locator Magazine and Locator UpFront.
Categories: Car Troubles, DIY Buyers, Engines, Part Needs