To be completely honest, you can drive with your check engine light in some cases but you probably shouldn’t. The check engine light came on to tell you there is something wrong with your automobile. Depending on the problem, you can cause further damage to your car, truck, or SUV if you keep driving it. University Auto Repair can find out why your check engine light came on. Here are five possibilities.
Bad Oxygen Sensor
Your vehicle releases treated gases and unburned oxygen out of the tailpipe. The oxygen sensor keeps track of how much unburned oxygen is being released. Your check engine light will come on if the oxygen sensor is bad. You’ll also notice you go through more fuel than usual. Driving with a bad oxygen sensor can damage the catalytic converter and spark plugs.
Loose Gas Cap
If your gas cap is too loose, missing, or damaged, it will not seal the tank and your check engine light will come on. This isn’t an expensive fix if the gas cap is just old and has lost its seal. It might not be a fix at all if you just forgot to screw it on tightly the last time you filled up. Either way, if you don’t replace the cap, you’ll lose gasoline through evaporation.
Faulty Catalytic Converter
The catalytic converter is responsible for making the carbon monoxide produced by your car, truck, or SUV safe. It converts this poisonous gas into a safe one: carbon dioxide. A faulty catalytic converter will produce a check engine light, a noxious odor, and a failing grade on your vehicle emissions test. It can also cause your vehicle to burn more gasoline and overheat.
Dead Mass Airflow Sensor
You probably already know that your vehicle runs on a mixture of fuel and air. The mass airflow sensor makes sure the engine always has the right amount of air to mix with the fuel. It measures the air volume to figure out how much fuel is needed. If the sensor is dead or failing, it can damage your catalytic converter, oxygen sensor, and spark plugs. Your check engine will also come on.
You’re Overdue for a Tune-Up
If you need to replace your spark plugs and/or the spark plug wires, you just might get a check engine warning. You’ll also notice your engine sputters, misses, and might even stall. Your fuel economy will suffer and you can damage the other parts listed above. In other words, getting a tune-up when your vehicle manufacturer recommends it saves you a tremendous amount of grief.