We hear this question often. Current cars are much more complex than before. For most cars built in the last decade or so, about 85% of their systems are controlled by computers. When the computers sense a problem, it sends a signal to your dashboard’s “check engine light.” This is your signal that something has gone wrong.
That ‘something’ may be significant or it may be minor. With some check engine light signals, you can drive the car still without any real damage. However, sometimes that is not the case and you could cause expensive harm to your car.
Here are some symptoms that could trigger a Check Engine light:
- Low fluids, engine oil, transmission, coolant, brake fluid, etc.
- Faulty or clogged sensors
- Damaged or missing belt
- Faulty component such as you battery or alternator
- Faulty emission component such as your catalytic converter or O2 sensor
- Safety failures such as air bags or restraints
- Loose gas cap
It’s a good idea at this point to see if you notice any other changes in your car’s behavior. For example, have you notice the starting has changed, or reduced fuel efficiency? Do you notice any strange smells, like pancake syrup, rotten eggs, etc? Is that car running funny? These things could help point you in the right direction
Should I bring the car to a shop, or stop driving it?
The answer to that is a big fat, it depends. There are times that it is safe to drive it, while others it is not safe for you or good for the car. It also depends on what your car’s manual says. Your vehicle may have other signs that tell you how severe the problem is and if you should drive the car.
If you are not sure of the cause, it is best to call us. We can ask a few questions and may be able to pinpoint the problem or at least tell if your car should be driven or not.
Our auto repair shop has some of the most up-to-date automotive diagnosis equipment. Often with a quick check, and a reset, your car can be back on the road without checking it into the shop. Be assured, though, we are the type of shop that you can trust. We are going to tell you the truth, including when it means you can drive your car without bringing it into the shop.