There’s nothing worse than having your car break down in the heat of the summer. However, car issues are common, and problems can range from under-inflated tires to premature car battery failure to problems with belts and hoses. About five percent of all drivers are currently driving with a check engine light that has been on for more than three months, and nearly eight in 10 cars on the road are in need of repairs. If your check engine light is on, you should assume that it means that it’s at least time for a tune up service and oil change. Here are four other common reasons that your check engine light is on with some steps to troubleshoot them.
You’ve Hit a 15 Thousand Mile Benchmark/h3>
In many vehicles, the check engine light comes on every time you drive 15,000 miles. This is generally around the time that you should replace your air filter, but you should take your car to the auto shop to be sure.
The Gas Cap is Loose
Sometimes, the check engine light will come on simply because the gas cap needs to be tightened. If there is no other damage to the vehicle, try tightening the gas cap and give your engine light some time to reset. You may need to drive anywhere from 50-100 miles for the light to switch off, so give it some time before you investigate the other signs.
The Oxygen Sensor Needs to Be Replaced
The oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust system. A faulty oxygen sensor can cause you to burn more fuel than necessary and can eventually damage the other parts of the vehicle, so it’s important to have the sensor checked if you’re also noticing that you need to go to the gas pump more often than usual.
There are Problems with the Spark Plug
If you’re noticing low gas mileage, engine misfiring, or that your vehicle is slow to accelerate, it can be a sign that there are problems with your spark plugs. The spark plugs transfer energy from the ignition coils, and problems can be caused by worn, fouled, or bad spark plugs. While there are several how to’s on replacing your own spark plugs, you can only be sure that that’s the cause by visiting an auto mechanic shop.
When in doubt, don’t hesitate to take your vehicle to your local auto shop. Roughly 13% of auto accidents are caused by mechanical failure, so if your car isn’t functioning properly, you should take it seriously. Building a relationship with a trusted auto shop to take care of your vehicle when things seem off can save money, time, and even lives.