What is the Check Engine Light?

This light is the visual indicator for problems in your vehicle’s on-board diagnostics system(OBD). Since the 1980s, many vehicles have been built to be run by the engine computer unit (ECU), which controls vehicle’s drivetrain and auxiliary systems based on input from the vehicle’s sensors. This computer will adjust your vehicle’s performance to keep your ride running smoothly. When it runs into an issue that the ECU cannot correct, the Check Engine Light (CEL) illuminates. The light is typically yellow or amber and features an image of engine with text telling the driver to check or service the engine or powertrain. The engine computer stores a diagnostic code when the engine light is on.

Ignoring the check engine light can have several consequences, including:

  • Worsening of the problem: If the cause of the check engine light is a minor issue, ignoring it could make the problem worse, leading to more expensive repairs.
  • Decreased fuel efficiency: A malfunctioning engine can lead to decreased fuel efficiency, which can cost you more in the long run.
  • Emission problems: The check engine light could indicate an issue with your vehicle’s emission control system. If left unchecked, it could lead to increased emissions and potential fines.
  • Damage to other parts: A problem with one part of the engine can also affect other parts. Ignoring the check engine light can lead to additional and costly repairs.
  • Safety hazards: In some cases, the check engine light could indicate a safety issue, such as a problem with the airbags or the emissions system. Ignoring this warning could put you and others at risk.

It is always recommended to have the check engine light checked as soon as possible by a professional mechanic to prevent further problems.