You would think that most drivers, if a check engine light came on, would take their car into be serviced – right away. Because it says check engine. But as you know, if you’ve been driving awhile and owned a few cars in your lifetime, that doesn’t always happen. People are busy. Sometimes money is tight. And if the car is still driving and seems okay, it’s easy to justify not taking your vehicle in. And the more days, weeks or even months that go by, the easier it becomes to rationalize.
“The car is running fine,” you may be thinking, “and I have this money in the bank, and I don’t want to complicate my life with a big car repair bill. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
But the problem with that thinking is -- it probably is broken! So, yes, fix it. And taking your car in now may save you from a far, far bigger car repair bill in the future.
At Milex/Mr. Transmission, we get passionate about car repair because we really do want to save people money, and we’re bringing up the check engine light dilemma because of the annual CarMD Vehicle Health Index that came out earlier this year. It confirmed what we’ve always said – if you ignore the check engine light, the best-case scenario is that you drive getting less miles per gallon. The worst case? A lot of expensive car repairs.
The Car MD Vehicle Health Index offered the top 10 reasons a check engine light may come on. If that dreaded light comes on, you may need to…
- Replace O2 sensor(s)
- Replace ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s)
- Replace the catalytic converter
- Inspect the fuel cap and tighten or replace as necessary
- Replace the evaporative emissions (EVAP) purge control valve
- Replace the mass airflow (MAF) sensor
- Replace the ignition coil(s) – but not the spark plugs.
- Replace the evaporative emissions (EVAP) purge solenoid
- Replace the fuel injector(s)
- Replace the thermostat
There is a lot of good news in this list. As you’ll notice, one of the top 10 reasons a “check engine” light comes on isn’t because you need to replace your transmission or four tires. The reasons for a check engine light coming on often involve pretty simple, inexpensive fixes, or even free – if you, for instance, just need to tighten your fuel cap.
But the bad news is that if you don’t take your car into be looked at, you may be soon facing a lot of problems. For instance, take replacing your car thermostat, which came in at number 10. With most cars, you are likely to never have a problem with your thermostat. It won’t ever need replacing. But if it does need replacing, and you don’t get a new one, you might as well just go to your favorite car dealership’s website and start researching new cars.
That’s because your car’s thermostat regulates the amount of coolant that is recirculated back into the engine and determines how much is cooled by the radiator before being recirculated. In other words, your thermostat ensures that your car doesn’t overheat. If your car overheats, you have a major problem on your hands.
An ignition coil is another good example of something that isn’t all that expensive to fix, typically. Generally, a few hundred dollars, though it depends on the car. While that isn’t cheap, given the alternative of a faulty ignition coil severely harming your engine, you can see how not replacing the ignition coil could be a very expensive decision.
So look at and listen to your car. If that check engine light comes on, please don’t put off bringing in your car to Milex/Mr. Transmission to have our folks take a look. We know taking your car in when you weren’t planning to and facing a potential bill isn’t anyone’s idea of fun – we don’t like doing it either – but it’s better than one day realizing your car won’t start. You can only ignore that check engine light until there’s no ignoring it.