It usually comes as a surprise when the Check Engine Light is glowing at you from the dashboard. You then may think of the worst case scenario where your vehicle might just stop in it’s tracks. But usually it’s not all doom and gloom, as you’ll find out below…
First off, I’m just going to explain that sometimes the check engine light, also known as the Service Engine Soon (SES) or as a Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL), on a vehicle fitted with the best OBD2 scanner (on-board diagnostics) can sometimes play up and cause unnecessary stress. Fortunately not all check engine light warnings are serious, but it’s a good idea to have the issue checked out as soon as possible.
A check engine light could be set off by a simple thing such as the gas cap not screwed on properly, or there’s a problem with the vehicle’s heating system, even the speed sensor isn’t working as intended, etc. On the other hand, the engine may produce excess pollutants and thus cause long-term damage to the engine and all of the associated problems in cost of repairs/lack of vehicle. Although care should be taken, it’s a good idea to have it checked out soon.
Now you could drive the vehicle to the nearest garage to have a mechanic look at the vehicle, or you could do this yourself and see what is causing the warning light to flash. To diagnose the problem yourself, you’re going to need a scan tool (see my reviews of a scan tool to suit all budgets) which is hooked up to the OBD2 data link connector (DLC) which is found in several location inside the front, i.e under the dashboard/steering wheel, or near the passenger seat – consult the vehicle manual if uncertain. Once the tool is connected, the OBD2 scan tool will display the codes that are causing the problems. Once you have the diagnostic trouble codes (DTC), you can either refer to your vehicle manual or simply use the Internet to find out the cause of the warning light.
Now even if you’re not the type to roll up your sleeves, pop the hood and get dirty, at the very least you’ll know what is wrong with your vehicle. This puts you at an advantage when you pay a visit to the local garage, as you’ll know in advance the issues at hand. Plus an entry level scan tool can cost around $20, it’s a win-win situation. So there’s no excuse for not buying a OBD2 scan tool when trying to establish the check engine light.