8001 Minnetonka Blvd.


Mon-Thu: 7am -6pm
Friday: 7am – 5pm

6407 West Lake Street


Mon-Thu: 7am -6pm
Friday: 7am – 5pm

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Understanding the Check Engine Light

by | Jun 3, 2013 | Auto Repair, Check Engine Light, General Car Maintenance

Most modern vehicles have what is known as an Electric Control Module (ECM). Throughout the engine components there are several sensors placed at various points to monitor the engine’s performance. When something is not performing up to standard, the ECM indicates a problem by lighting up the Check Engine light. As summer is approaching, it is best to not to overlook nor panic when the light emerges. You can do an inspection of your engine yourself, but just to be safe you should take it immediately to one of our auto mechanics to better diagnosis the problem.


While there are several causes that result in the check engine light showing up on your dashboard, there are a few components you should always check as they can possibly be the main cause to your problem. Your oxygen sensors can be the one to blame if your check engine light comes on. An oxygen sensor is placed between the engine and the catalytic converter and its job is to make sure that the exhaust of the engine performs efficient combustion. Also, something as simple as overfilling the gas tank can trigger the light to come on. The mass airflow sensor can also be to blame. If the filter becomes clogged or is installed improperly it can cause a malfunction. Lastly, your spark plugs can begin to fail over time and that too can be a cause of why your check engine light is coming on.


When something triggers the check engine light, the ECM will store that information until it is retrieved by a qualified mechanic, which is typically provided free of charge from most mechanics. In severe cases of a check engine light, the light will either turn red or begin to flash if the problem in the engine is serious. If you notice either of those two signs, it is advisable to pull the vehicle over and consider having it towed. Continuing to drive your vehicle in such condition is bad for your vehicle and can potentially make the problem worse.


Before you take your vehicle to the mechanic, there are some things you can do yourself to see if you can fix the problem. First you can try tightening your gas cap. One of the easiest causes of a check engine light is a loose gas cap. A loose gas cap can trigger several emission related codes to your vehicle’s diagnostic system. You can also try turning your ignition to the “On” or “Acc” position without cranking the engine on. Lastly, if you have a scanner to detect diagnostic codes, try running a check on the check engine light and use the handbook as a guide to determine the meaning of code and the problem. After you have done some investigating, bring your vehicle to our service shop and have them diagnose the problem. Ensuring that your vehicle is running well and is ready for the harsh heat in the summer you are able to enjoy your travels and feel safe will journeying far from home.