This yellow light is among the gauges and warning lights clustered around the instrument panel in front of the driver. It comes on briefly when you turn the ignition on to start the car, the same as other warning lights do. When these systems start up as you turn the key to start the car, they perform a “system check” to let you know the system is ready to do its prescribed job.
If all is well the lights stay off after this initial check, until one day inexplicably, it stays on or comes back on and glows a yellow warning “Check Engine”, “Service Engine Soon” or as some vehicles use, a yellow engine symbol.
The question is what do you check and why? The engine often shows no obvious signs of anything except running down the road in quiet contentment.
When the onboard diagnostic system determines that a problem exists, the computer turns on the yellow dashboard indicator. This yellow light serves to inform the driver that a problem has been detected and vehicle service is needed to correct the issue.
As you drive, the on-board diagnostic system is continuously checking information from the engine, transmission and safety equipment on your vehicle against data stored in its memory. If one of the hundreds of possible faults is found to occur, the yellow indicator comes on. Occasionally the light will come on and go off as you drive if the condition causing the light to illuminate, comes in and out of acceptable tolerance.
When this light comes on as you drive it is telling the driver that something is wrong, and to bring the vehicle in for service. Normally this is not an emergency situation, however, it is recommended that you do not drive for more than a few days with the light on as you may incur additional expenses if there are subsequent failures caused by the initial fault that turned the light on.
The glitches that activate the “Check Engine” light are often nothing a driver can readily detect, but that doesn’t mean everything is working properly. Many of these conditions can waste fuel, as the engine management system is put into overtime trying to correct the condition and is unable to. At times the engine may be harder to start than normal or you may notice a drivability concern.
A flashing light can shorten engine or transmission life and lead to expensive repairs if left unaddressed. And, since the condition is usually emission related, the level of pollutants coming from the tailpipe can soar. Your vehicles onboard diagnostic system will assess engine running and misfire situations, the most severe of which indicates the possibility of the exhaust catalytic converter being damaged. When this occurs, the yellow light will blink on and off repeatedly. When this light is flashing it indicates a more serious malfunction. Vehicle speed should be reduced and the vehicle taken for servicing as soon as possible to prevent any consequential damage from occurring.
So if the “Check Engine” light comes on, don’t hit the panic button, but don’t ignore it either. Call your friends at Crestview Auto Service (306) 244-6522.
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