Why is my Check Engine Light On?

I’m sure you’ve been a victim of the daunting Check Engine Light– also known as the Service Engine Light. Its that antagonizing light that just glares at you from the dashboard. So what do you do now? Do you just stare it with avoidance? Do you cover it with electrical tape? As absurd as that sounds, this is how most people deal with the Check Engine Light. However, what you should be doing is asking why. There are several things that could be triggering this alert to your vehicle. We are giving you the top 5 most common reasons your check engine light may be on.

  1. Oxygen (02) Sensors

    Your Oxygen sensors measure the amount of unburned Oxygen from your vehicle’s exhaust system. These sensors monitor how much fuel is burned and sends that data to the car’s computer. Sensors can become contaminated with oil ash over time causing them to not function efficiently. With faulty sensors, you’ll notice a decrease in gas mileage and increased emissions, because your vehicle is burning more fuel than necessary.

  2. Loose or Cracked Gas Cap

    While the gas cap doesn’t seem to serve much purpose other than sealing your tank, it does have a more important task. Your gas cap helps maintain pressure in the fuel system and prevents fuel evaporation. If the cap is cracked or not on correctly, fuel vapors could be leaking from your car. As a result, your vehicle will have a reduction in gas mileage and increased emissions as well.

  3. Catalytic Converter

    The Catalytic Converter works to convert carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide. This helps to reduce the amount of harmful compounds being released into the environment. If your Catalytic Converter is failing, it could be from a lack of regular maintenance on one of the other listed items. This is not usually the most inexpensive to fix, but if you bring it to us for repair immediately, we can help keep your expenses from piling up.

  4. Mass Airflow Sensor

    You may have never considered this one, but is still a possible culprit. The Mass Airflow Sensor tells your vehicle’s computer how much fuel to release to make the car run efficiently. It is solely dependent on the amount of air coming through the engine. If this is the cause of that glowing Check Engine Light, you will notice your vehicle get worse gas mileage and it may even begin to stall.

  5. Spark Plugs

    Spark Plugs seal the combustion chamber and ignite the air/fuel mixture. If it isn’t working properly or needs replacement, you’ll notice the car having issues with acceleration. Most manufacturers recommend that Spark Plugs be changed every 25,000-30,000 miles in older vehicles, or 100,000 for newer vehicles. Some sources suggest this is an easy fix, but that depends on the year, make and model of your vehicle. We suggest bringing it in and letting us have a look just in case this isn’t the true source of the problem.

If you’re seeing the Check Engine Light on your dashboard, just call us at Courthouse Automotive and we’ll get you in and back on the road in no time.


Understanding How Octane Levels Affect your Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is an important topic in the automotive industry today. But, when you fuel up at the pump do you think about the octane level that is best for your vehicle? Does it really make a difference if you fill your tank with regular instead of premium?

The name premium definitely promotes the image of better fuel economy. More oomph per gallon. The truth is that premium provides no more energy than regular. The real difference lies in the blend of hydrocarbons used to make the fuel as well as the list of additives that are mixed in.

Additives are used to reduce carbon build-up in your engine, thus improving combustion and allowing for easier starting in colder climates. A key additive in your petrol is ethanol. It is added to boost the fuel’s octane rating. A higher rating equals a higher “compression ratio”, which increases the temperature in your combustion chamber. This is where your high-octane petrol is needed to produce more power and is designed for performance vehicles. If you have a high compression engine, you would be ill advised to use regular gas. However, if your vehicle’s manual says that premium is “recommended” and not “required” then the choice is yours. Your engine will adjust to run on the lower octane fuel. It will just produce less power and have slightly higher fuel consumption.

For regular Joe’s without high-compression engines, 87 unleaded is fine. When gas prices are at a high, you’ll still save more at the pump fueling up with regular than fueling up with premium. To sum it up, there are no advantages in using premium gas in a car that doesn’t require it. Go ahead and save those 15-20 cents per gallon. You’re not doing anything to mistreat your vehicle. So, rest easy and get yourself a little snack at the pump while you’re at it.