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Chris
Chris, Auto Service Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 13358
Experience:  43 years of automotive repair, Smog license
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My check engine light suddenly came on. What should I do?

This answer was rated:

My check engine light suddenly came on. What should I do? Is this something I should not drive because of?

Welcome! My name is XXXXX XXXXX you for allowing me to assist you! Is the light on steady or flashing on and off?

Chris

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Light is on steady

Ok Betsy, that is good. if it were flashing, then that would indicate a cylinder misfire and would cause catalytic converter damage. Since it is on steady then we do not have to worry about that. A check engine light on means that the PCM (engine computer) has detected a fault in a fuel, ignition, or emission system. This could be something as simple as a loose gas cap, or it could be a sensor or other fuel or ignition system circuit. You can drive it, but have a shop connect a scan tool to the vehicle as soon as you can. There will be a trouble code stored in the PCM's memory and that will tell the technician where the trouble may be. Note: some auto parts stores will connect a scan tool and check this out for free, so you may want to go that route first. Go ahead and drive it, but like I said, try to get the code read as soon as it is convenient for you.

I hope this information helps, and let me know if you need further assistance with this.

Chris

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Someone else drove my car yesterday, put gas in it and then the check engine light came on. I went out and the gas cap was not on correctly. I put it on right, but the check engine light is still on. Does it take a little while for the light to correct itself?? Shall I try it again later?? You have been a huge help. I am 77 years old and alone and did not know what to do. I will give you an excellent rating as soon as I get your next answer!!! Thank You

That is probably it Betsy! Yes it does take a while for the PCM to "retest" the system and eventually it will go out, OR you can ask the guys at the auto parts store to clear the code and turn off the light.

Chris

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Thank you Betsy for the positive rating and bonus!!

Chris