What To Do If Your “Check Engine” Light Turns On


We all know how pesky the Check Engine light on your dashboard can be. It is inconvenient and troublesome to take your car in to get this checked. There are a few common triggers for the Check Engine light that all drivers should be aware of. Check Engine lights can be complicated to repair – knowing how they work and what to check for will help you take the best care of your vehicle, as well as avoid unnecessary trips to an auto mechanic.

Understanding the Check Engine light
This light serves as a warning indicator. It is a response of your vehicle’s computer to changes or hindrances in the emission control system. When the light comes on, it is a result of one of many trouble codes stored in the system. These trouble codes are what auto mechanics use to determine the cause of the light.

Every U.S.–manufactured vehicle must pass a Federal Test Procedure – an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) test, which sets allowable limits of deterioration of your emission control system. The Check Engine light was created to indicate that your emission control system is failing, causing your vehicle to pollute the air. However, many other factors can cause the light to turn on, which makes diagnosing the cause tricky.

Tips to keep in mind
• Is your gas cap closed tightly? – This is an extremely common trigger for the Check Engine light in many vehicles. If the cap is not sealed properly, the pressure is not correct, which signals the light to turn on.
• Are you carrying a heavy load? – It is possible for heavy loads combined with high speeds to effect how your car’s computer views the emission control system.
• Do you have OnStar? – If you have a 1997 or later General Motors vehicle equipped with OnStar and an active OnStar subscription, advisors can read the code and give advice on what to do.
• Is a serious problem causing it? – Check your dashboard gauges and lights to see if there are issues such as overheating and low oil pressure. Problems such as these are critical, and indicate that you should pull over and shut off your engine as soon as possible.
• Is your car performing differently? – Your vehicle should be inspected if you notice a change in how your vehicle is running.
• Do not confuse a red Check Engine light with a yellow Service Engine Soon light. This is a warning that indicates your should proceed with caution, and can be caused by anti-lock brake systems, faulty sensors, safety restraint systems, or emission components. These issues typically require an experienced technician to fix.

Texting while Driving – What you can do to Help

We continue to see staggering statistics about texting while driving. A new study conducted by Consumer Reports found eight in ten young drivers admit to talking or texting on their phone while driving. Furthermore, 5,000 people die each year from distracted driving in the United States alone. Studies show texting while driving can impair a driver similarly to being legally intoxicated.

The Consumer Reports study found that forty-eight percent of the young drivers surveyed said they had seen a parent talking on a cell phone while driving and 15 percent said they had seen a parent texting on a cell phone while driving within the last month.

The survey also found that parental and peer pressure can have a genuine influence on such behavior, such as peer passengers asking the driver to delay using a cell phone until they’re done driving. The takeaway from this study is that parents have a greater role than they realize in setting an example for their children’s driving behavior. Additionally, we can all do our part as a passenger to politely ask the driver to hold off on texting or calling while behind the wheel.

At Car-X we recognize the serious danger that comes from texting while driving, which is why Car-X of Champaign teamed up with No Text Illinois. The new program is meant to get all Illinois drivers to pledge never to text while driving. Help us put the brakes on texting and driving. Take the pledge here.