Having a "check engine" light illuminate while you're driving can be a jarring experience, especially if you're far from home or in an unfamiliar area. The good news is that most check engine lights signify minor problems that can be easily and inexpensively repaired by a reputable auto shop. Still, there are some important dos and don'ts to keep in mind the next time this light illuminates on your dash.
DO Check Your Gas Cap
If you've recently filled up your fuel tank and your engine light came on shortly after, there's a good chance that your problem is no more serious than a loose gas cap. Pull over in a safe area and make sure your gas cap is screwed on tightly. Believe it or not, this is one of the most common causes of check engine lights--and it's also the easiest to fix!
DON'T Ignore Obvious Problems
If your engine problem isn't as simple as a loose gas cap, you may need to drive your car straight to the nearest auto repair shop or even pull over and have your car towed. Generally, if your check engine light is solid, this indicates a minor problem that doesn't require immediate attention (but should still be checked out as soon as possible). On the other hand, if your engine light is blinking, this could indicate serious misfires and other problems that could damage your engine if you keep driving.
DO Get a Free Diagnostic Scan
Most auto supply stores and even some auto repair shops will offer a free diagnostic scan for your vehicle. This simply involves hooking a code reader up to your engine, obtaining the code, and then looking it up to get a better idea of the problem. This only takes a matter of minutes and can really help narrow down the problem, or at least help you determine the severity of the issue.
DON'T Attempt DIY Repairs
Generally, unless your repair is as simple as replacing a bad gas cap, engine repairs are best left up to the experts. The last thing you want is to cause further damage to your vehicle through a botched repair. Instead, bring your vehicle into a trusted repair shop like The Auto Pro to ensure the work is done correctly. More than likely, you'll also enjoy a warranty on any new parts and/or labor, which can give you added peace of mind behind the wheel.Share