In the past you’ve heard family, friends, and co-workers talk about driving with their check engine lights on. Maybe you’re skeptical about how the check engine light could impact the overall lifespan of your vehicle. If you have invested a considerable amount of money on down payments, upgrades, repairs, or even monthly payments you shouldn’t be completely ignoring a signal from your vehicle that something isn’t functioning properly. There are a few things to consider when the check engine light comes on.

Decoding Your Check Engine Light Today

My check engine light just came on this morning-now what?

One of the first things you should consider when your check engine light appears is-have you been keeping up with proper maintenance on your vehicle? For instance, keeping up with regular oil and filter changes is critical. Also, do you regularly drive around until you have completely exhausted all your fuel? According to an article by BankRate “When you let your gas level run low, you force your car to use the dirtiest gas in its tank for fuel.” The sediment that settles at the bottom of your tank can cause problems in your fuel line, and it could potentially be drawn into the engine. Creating good car care habits, and regularly checking all fluids should be one of the first things you consider in this scenario. If you have any concerns about whether your vehicle is safe to drive you may want to call a tow truck and have your car towed to the closest automotive repair center.

Quick Tip

Consider visiting an automotive retailer such as Auto Zone, Advanced Auto Parts, or O’Reilly Auto Parts. Many of these large chain retailers offer free basic services to assist their customers. Many of them carry an electronic diagnostic tool that they can just plug into your vehicle. The tool will then show a code, or series of codes that may help you determine why your check engine light has come on. From there you can decide how to move forward. You may want to make an appointment immediately with a reputable mechanic or repair shop to take care of any needed repairs. Note: In certain circumstances, your check engine light may come on after you have had an oil change. In that scenario, you would want to contact the dealership and they can quickly reset it for you.

While a check engine light isn’t always a major cause for concern, you should still heed the warning and investigate what all the fuss is about. This is especially true for vehicles that you may have purchased through sources like auto auctions, Craigslist, and through private sellers. If you’ve recently purchased your vehicle from a dealership then start your diagnostic journey by calling them first.