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What To Do When Your Check Engine Light Comes On

Jul 9, 2008
When you are about to embark on a long road trip (or even worse, when you are in the middle of it), having the check engine light come on can be a disastrous thing. In fact, having the check engine light come on in general usually leads to some pretty bad feelings. Fortunately, just because the check engine light is on does not always mean that you need to spend a ton of money on repairs. Sometimes, having the check engine light come on is not a big deal at all.

If you are lucky, your check engine light is just on because your gas cap is not on tight enough. This frequently happens, because sometimes the internal computer in your car cannot differentiate one problem from another and alert you to the differences. Instead of having dozens of lights to let you know when every little thing goes on, many times your car alerts you to minimal problems by turning the check engine light on. If you suspect this is the case, pull over and tighten your gas cap. It may take a few trips for the check engine light to reset itself, but it is definitely worth a try.

If you have tried that, but it did not seem to have an effect on your check engine light, look around your dashboard to see if there are any other warning lights on. Check your gauges for an indication of an overheating issue or a low oil pressure problem. If you find that one of the gauges is off, pull over as soon as it is safe to, as running your car with low oil or when it is overheating can lead to much bigger problems down the road.

If you have an OnStar subscription, give them a call. If you have a 1997 General Motors vehicle or later, the people at OnStar can tell you whether or not the check engine light is alerting you to a serious problem with your vehicle. This is because the operators at OnStar can read your vehicles trouble codes remotely, saving you from an unnecessary trip to the mechanic (or, as the case may be, speeding you along to the mechanic sooner than you would have gone on your own). Of course, if you do not have OnStar, you can always take your car to a mechanic who will read the trouble codes for you.
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