Modern cars have “check engine” indicator, which is located on control panel. Sometimes the true importance of this light is known, when it is on. And then you find out many problems. Many people can drive their cars for years and this indicator never reminds of itself. So, what does this miraculous light mean and how does it help drivers? In this article we’ll answer these and many other questions.
• Quick diagnostics
• Additional signs
• Serious failures and their repair
If the “check engine” light on, this means that the control unit found some failures in work of power pack. The first systems were equipped with minicomputers. Their main task is to manage a down-draft carburetor. In time they’ve had more tasks. As a result, their action spectrum became more wide. Modern power packs control air-fuel ratio, engine rpm, sparking and many other parameters. Recently, the number of reasons lamp “check engine” lights on has increased. That’s why it is very difficult to find out the reason without special tools, skills and knowledge.
First, remember that this indicator lights on only after starting of power pack. If the engine works normally, the indicator lights off. If you noticed “check engine” is constantly on with sparking start up, then you should check it. The defects can be as quite harmless, so really significant. For example, you lost a gas cap lid, while on the move. In any case, you should inspect carefully the condition of your car.
If the indicator starts blinking only when your car is on the move, don’t panic beforehand. Stop the car and listen sounds, which produced by the power pack of your car, while it is on. Check the oil level. Replace it, if necessary. Then check the engine for visible defects and mechanic failures. If no failures were found out while initial examination, then you can easily drive to nearest car service station for expert diagnostics.
If you didn’t notice any distinct defections, but “check engine” light on anyway, then the reason is in one of plugs sparking failure. This is one of the reasons “check engine” indicator is on. The reasonable solution is to drive to car diagnostics center.
Remember, that there are many reasons for “check engine” light on, because the signal comes from car ECM that controls many functions of systems of modern vehicles. These are the work of power pack, fuel injector, air-fuel mixture, moment of ignition and automatic gearbox speed shifting.
When “check” light on, this means that power pack control unit found some failure. You can continue movement in following cases:
1. The indicator is constantly on without blinking.
2. No changes in work of car.
3. No engine power loss.
4. The same reaction on accelerator.
5. Level of cooling fluid and engine oil within normal limits.
6. N signs from other indicator. But in this case you should drive to car service station as fast as you can.
You are not allowed to continue driving in following cases:
- you noticed changes in your car behavior;
- significant engine power loss;
- vibrations in engine;
- you sniff burning;
- “Check Engine” light blinks with indicator of incident oil pressure;
- signals of engine overheating.
All this may well result in serious failures to your car.
If control indicator of incident oil pressure is on, while your car is on the move, then you must stop the car immediately and shut off the engine. Then check oil level in the engine. If it is below normal limits, then add necessary quantity of oil (pour until oil level reaches an indent mark) and after start the engine again. If the indicator is still on, then shut off the engine and call the tow truck to nearest car service station. But don’t start the engine and don’t try to get there on your own! The engine will breakdown without proper greasing. If the arrow of temperature indicator on control panel moves upward temperature or signal indicator of cooling fluid temperature is on, that points to primary stage of power pack overheating.
If the arrow hadn’t reached the red zone, then the expansion tank is not filled with cooling fluid. If there are no signs of engine overheat, then you can take measures in easement of thermal behavior of power pack:
1. Lower the car speed.
2. Turn of car air conditioning.
3. Turn on the heating of car cabin to reduce the engine temperature. If the warmth did not come into cabin, and cold air spreads from the heater, shut off the engine immediately, because power pack overheating is on critical level.
Signs of critical engine overheat (except lamp and arrow indicator) are following:
1. Steam from under cowl.
2. Vehicle power depression.
3. Car heater failure.
4. Absence of cooling fluid in expansion tank.
Serious failures and their repair
It is unreal to identify the failure by “check engine” light on. The reasons for this indicator turn on can be divided on several groups in order of gravity of failure:
Low quality fuel. In some cases problem can be solved by defueling and replacing old fuel with quality one.
Old ignition plugs with incorrect lash and cracked insulation kit. This problem is solved by inspecting and replacing on faulty plugs. The lash in this case must be 1.3 mm.
Igniter coil. If there is no spark from igniter coil, then it must be replaced.
Lambda probe. If fails this element only, then the best decision is to replace it.
Catalyst. To fix this failure replacement of this component is required.
Discharge nozzles. Must be cleaned up carefully.
Fuel pump or petrol tank netting. The right solution is rail pressure survey, which must not exceed 3 atm. In other cases netting clean up or fuel pump replacement will help.
Spark plug wires. This is the last reason of “check engine” light on. In this case you must meter them and replace, if necessary.
Always keep an eye on “check engine” indicator, it’s not difficult. Don’t forget about it and you won’t have to guess the reasons your car doesn’t start.