When this light came on my dashboard, I used to throw my head back, close my eyes and whisper, "s***!"
The check engine light, also known as the MIL or maintenance indicator light, illuminates anytime the computer in the car reads the car is burning fuel inefficiently. Therefore you are using more gas and/or polluting the air with toxins.
That's no reason to panic. Something as simple as the gas cap not being on tight enough can cause this light to come on. It could also be something more complex. And if you live in a state that performs emissions testing, a lit check engine symbol on the dashboard with cause you to fail.
Important: If the Check Engine/MIL light is flashing, that means damage can be done to other parts of the vehicle. Shut the vehicle off as soon as safely possible and get it to a shop ASAP. Do not drive the vehicle with the check engine light flashing.
So, what should you do when the checking engine light comes on? Start to notice any changes in the way your car runs or drives. Is it running rough or shaking when you are in park? Does the car lack "oomph" or power when you press on the gas? Is it shifting hard when you try to go faster? You may not feel any difference at all.
You will have to take the vehicle to a repair a shop and have a mechanic/technician scan for a code on the vehicle's computer. The code will help the mechanic/technician diagnosis why the vehicle is burning fuel inefficiently. This scanner is most commonly called a scan tool.
Please be aware of two things:
For more helpful tips on handling car problems, check out our ladies guide to stupid car problems.
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