We bet you’ve had this question a time or two. Whether you’ve been driving in the middle of a long summer road trip, or out running errands, we’ve all had that check engine turn on at the most inopportune times. If you’ve ever wanted to know why that check engine light is going off, we’re covering some of the common problems your car could be experiencing.
Loose Gas Cap
We’ll start with the easy one first. It could be as simple as a loose gas cap from your last fill up. If your gas cap is loose, your car can lose fuel due to evaporation or it can cause your fuel system to circulate gas improperly. Since it’s a simple solution, it’s a good idea to tighten that gas cap before calling your mechanic.
Worn spark plugs
Your spark plugs ignite a mixture of fuel and air to create combustion and power your engine’s cylinders. If your spark plugs aren’t firing right, it can cause an engine misfire – which leads to increased hydrocarbon emissions, and weaker engine performance.
Faulty Catalytic Converter
Your catalytic converter changes carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide which helps protect the environment. When your catalytic converter is failing, it leads to reduced fuel economy, reduced engine performance, and increased emissions. The answer is not always replacing the catalytic converter. The problem is commonly caused by something else – for example, it could be a blown head gasket which can force burnt coolant vapor into your exhaust. It’s always best to have your mechanic check it out to get to the bottom of the problem.
Dirty or Faulty MAS Airflow Sensor
Your MAS airflow sensor determines how much fuel is needed to run your engine. This sensor measures the amount of air entering the engine, and can be susceptible to dirt and oil build up. If the sensor is faulty or remains dirty, the air to fuel ratio in your engine can get off which can cause failures in other areas of the engine like decreased fuel efficiency, and engine performance.
Your vacuum system helps reduce emissions by routing evaporated gas fumes through the engine. The vacuum hoses can crack or dry out especially when exposed to intense cold in the winter or heat in the summer. Over time, your vacuum system can also experience cracked fittings and loose connections which can trigger your check engine light.
Your ignition coils deliver an electrical pulse to each spark plug. When your engine’s computer sends a signal, the ignition coils release pent up energy to the spark plugs. The ignition coils are prone to failure after several years with symptoms like poor fuel efficiency, and decreased engine power.
Each cylinder in your engine has a fuel injector, which is a small, electronically-activated valve that regulates how much fuel is sprayed into the cylinders during the intake cycle. Our fuel has imperfections and can combine with carbon produced by the combustion process, and can cause the miniscule holes in the injector tip to become clogged. A fuel injector that is completely clogged can get stuck in the open position – continuously leaking fuel into the cylinder, and causing the engine to run roughly.
While these are several reasons your check engine light may turn on, there are several more. To give yourself peace of mind, it’s always best to have your mechanic look under the hood and diagnose what’s really ailing your engine. So the next time your check engine light turns on, our team is ready to help you repair the issue and get you back to enjoying the road – wherever you drive this summer.