OK, first off… your car is probably not going to blow up or anything, but this could be a sign of something serious. It could also be something very, very minor. Besides not being able to pass your State Inspection, it could indicate that your car is not running at its full potential/efficiency/gas-mileage/etc. The only way to tell, is to just get it checked. I once read somewhere that it was estimated that 10% of the cars on the road in the US had a check engine light (Malfunction Indicator Lamp or MIL) on (not to be confused with the “Maintenance Required” light). Pretending it’s not there will not make the problem go away and in some cases, ignoring certain issues can lead to bigger problems down the road. So don’t worry. Find out what it is and go from there. *NOTE* A flashing check engine light indicates an active misfire which can cause serious problems if you continue to drive your car. If your check engine light is flashing, get it to your auto repair technician as soon as possible.
Get The Code.
If your Check Engine Light appears on your dashboard, find out more. Your car’s computer will store a code(s) that can be read by a specialized scanner to indicate what the malfunction is. Of course we can do this for you and we do it for free, but you can also go to numerous other places like auto parts stores or oil change places, etc. But be careful, they may charge a fairly expensive “diagnostic fee” for this service. If they have the tool, they can scan it and get the codes for you. Be sure to get the actual codes and not just a diagnosis or an explanation of the problem (codes for a 1996 car or newer look like P0420 or P0300). The code can be very specific and if the codes are somehow cleared off of your vehicle’s computer, you can still provide that information to your automotive technician which can lead to an accurate diagnosis.
Don’t Ignore It
Even if your car seems to be running just fine, get your vehicle scanned. Again, while it may be something minor, it is possible that ignoring the issue could cause more damage if left unattended. For example, a faulty spark plug can cause the MIL to light up indicating a misfiring cylinder. Because the spark plug is not igniting the fuel mixture properly, excess fuel is forced through the catalytic converter through exhaust which can greatly reduce the life of this part. Sparks plugs are relatively cheap to replace but a catalytic converter installation can be very pricey. So it’s a good idea to catch a diagnosis early. And again, Good Carma Automotive does these checks for free and we don’t charge diagnostic fees. So if your check engine light (MIL) is on, swing on by and have us scan it for you. You’ll know what your up against and can keep your car healthy and happy.