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There are few worse moments when driving than noticing your check engine light has come on. Before you start to panic and assume the worst, remember that there are hundreds of causes of a check engine light. Some of them are quick fixes you can do yourself, while others can be serious repairs. Below are the five most common causes of your check engine light turning on.
Having a cracked, faulty, or just plain loose gas cap can trigger the check engine light. A gas cap might not seem important, but a loose cap causes fuel vapors to leak from the tank, throwing off your engine’s whole fuel system. If you notice the light come on but the car is not driving differently, the gas cap is probably your best bet.
The oxygen sensor in your car monitors how much fuel is burning. If you do not change it over time, it becomes covered in dirty oil and ash. A dirty oxygen sensor can lead to poor gas mileage and a lit engine light. While it is not a major repair, not fixing it can lead to major repairs down the road.
Spark plugs need changing every 25,000-100,000 miles depending on how new your car is. As the plug start to wear down and fail, they begin to misfire. If your car starts to shake and jerk after the light comes on, it could be the spark plugs. If you think your spark plugs are failing, slowly drive the car to the nearest auto parts store or the nearest Young Subaru dealership.
Your car’s onboard computer measures the amount of air and fuel mixture that is going into your engine. When your engine is not getting enough air, you probably have a dirty air filter. Air filters need changing at least once a year. If your light comes on and your car feels like is not getting enough power, then the dirty air filter might be throwing off your engine.
Catalytic converters are responsible for converting the carbon monoxide in your engine exhaust and making it less harmful for the air. While it is not normal for them to fail, improper car maintenance can lead to it breaking. It is important for you to always take care of your car and regularly change your oil, fluids, and filters.
As with any car issue, when something goes wrong, take it into your nearest or trusted service station or dealership. Never start replacing parts yourself without knowing exactly what is wrong or having experience repairing cars yourselves. While the above five engine issues are not all of the causes for a check engine light, they represent the most common causes of the light to turn on.