You are driving along minding your own business and suddenly an amber or red light illuminates on your cars instrument panel “check engine”. You ask yourself, is this serious? Is my engine going to blow up? Is my engine out of oil? Personally I have not figured out why car manufacturers use this phrase. People often tell me they immediately pulled over and checked their engines vital fluids only to find absolutely no problem at all. So what does this warning lamp mean? This warning lamp is tied into the engines computer system, when the light illuminates the computer is letting the driver know that is has seen or there is a problem with the computer controlled system of the vehicle, possibly an input sensor is operating out of its designed parameters.
Now, the next piece of information I am going to pass along to you is very important because this is something that everyone can check and quite often is the culprit, a loose gas cap, thats right, a gas cap that has not been put back in place or tightened correctly after re-fueling will cause the light to illuminate.
If the light stays on even after checking the gas cap you will need to make an appointment to have your car looked at. The vehicles computer will have set and stored a DTC (diagnostic trouble code) which will aid a technician to properly diagnose and repair the problem.
Now, if the light is flashing at you, this is a warning that you need to get your car in ASAP as you could possibly be causing catalyst damage. Catalyst damage can be very expensive to repair as catalytic converters contain precious metals.
One last thing, if the “check engine” light comes on do not panic, do as I suggested by checking the fuel cap, if you feel the car is not running correctly take it in ASAP to have it looked at.