check engine light on car dashboard

You’re driving along and minding your own business when all of a sudden, that little light on your dash decides to make an appearance. The check engine light. Just great. Of course, it always seems to come on at the most inopportune times, doesn’t it? But don’t worry, Master AutoTech is here to help you figure out what it means and how to fix the problem so you can be on your way.

What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?

The check engine light is designed to let you know when there’s a problem with your vehicle’s emissions control system. It could be something as simple as a loose gas cap or a more serious issue like a faulty oxygen sensor. Either way, it’s important to get it checked out as soon as possible so the problem doesn’t get worse and end up costing you more money in repairs.

Common Reasons Why the Check Engine Light Comes On

Did you know a mechanic can read the code being given by your vehicle for the check engine light? But, sometimes, the engine codes are generalized or inaccurate. Some experts claim computer codes from vehicles are only correct a small percentage of the time. As a result, you may need to have your car looked over thoroughly to see if one of the following have caused the check engine light to illuminate. 

  • Worn Spark Plugs
  • Faulty Spark Plug Wires
  • Ignition Coil Problems
  • Faulty Catalytic Converter
  • Clogged or Faulty Mass Airflow Sensor
  • Faulty Oxygen Sensor
  • Vacuum Leak
  • Exhaust Gas Recirculation Valve Failure
  • Faulty Battery
  • Bad Installation of Aftermarket Modifications

Even with all the technology cars have these days, you need to purchase a separate device to read engine codes yourself. While it’s possible to familiarize yourself with the Onboard Diagnostics (OBD) reader, it’s not something every driver is comfortable with. 

Reading Engine Codes Yourself

If you do want to purchase an OBD reader and try to diagnose the cause of your check engine light, here’s what you need to do.

Locate the OBD Port

Your vehicle has a place where an OBD scanner can plug in. Sometimes it’s in plain sight, but other times it’s behind dashboard panels that you’ll need to remove in order to access.

Download the App

Your scanner should be compatible with an app that will allow you to receive data from the OBD after it’s plugged into the port. 

Research the Codes

Not all codes will come out in plain English; some will be a series of numbers and letters that you’ll need to research. Your owner’s manual may have some of the codes, but odds are you’ll need to search online.

Remember, if you can’t decipher what the codes mean, you can bring your car into Master AutoTech for a diagnostic test to identify the problem.

Passing Inspection

You need to remedy the problem that’s causing the check engine light to turn on so you can pass vehicle inspections and drive safely. If any engine codes are active, your vehicle will not pass inspection and you won’t be able to register it. 

How to Fix the Problem

If the check engine light is on, the first thing you should do is tighten the gas cap. Believe it or not, a loose or damaged gas cap is one of the most common reasons the check engine light comes on. If that doesn’t do the trick and your car seems to be running smoothly, you can try resetting the code by disconnecting the battery for 30 seconds and then reconnecting it. If none of these things work, then you’ll need to take your car to a mechanic to have it checked out. They’ll be able to tell you what’s wrong and get your car back in tip-top shape in no time.


The next time your check engine light comes on, don’t panic! Just follow these simple steps and you’ll have your car back up and running in no time flat. And if you ever have any other questions about your vehicle, be sure to consult your owner’s manual or ask a professional—they’ll be more than happy to help you out.


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