warning light engine in car dashboard

Yellow, orange, or red are colors you don’t want to see on your dashboard because you are unsure of what a warning might mean – or what it’s going to cost you. We are here to walk you through what the check engine light means and what to do when yours comes on.

What is the check engine light?

A check engine light generally means that your vehicle has detected a potential issue within the engine, and they use a rather alarming color to get the point across. Most of today’s vehicles have plenty of sensors built in to ensure correct operation, and the check engine light popping on generally means one of those sensors found something it didn’t like too much.

While some places call the check engine an “Idiot Light”, some of your vehicle’s problems can be so subtle you don’t notice them, even with regular maintenance. We know this, so let’s talk about what to do next if your check engine light comes on.

What to do about your check engine light

In many ways, a check engine light could easily turn into a positive warning. We say this because the other way your vehicle warns you involves an oil light or other light coming on, potentially followed by a breakdown.

A check engine light means you should get your vehicle in for service soon, even if it is running normally. We combine using advanced code readers which plug into your vehicle’s electronics, and using our eyes, ears, and sometimes nose to detect where a problem might be present. We’ll be honest: a false check engine light is possible – and some check engine lights are no big deal. 

What are some common check engine light codes and reasons?

With the number of check engine codes numbering in the thousands and electronic parts controlling much of your vehicle, the problem could be nearly anything from a mass air flow sensor to fouled and misfiring spark plugs.

We could make off a huge list of reasons why a check engine light might come on, including not tightening your gas cap enough after filling up. Our better suggestion is to get a good feel for how your vehicle typically performs, including how it accelerates and idles. Pay attention to when it feels like your vehicle is losing power or is idling too high or too low.

Your vehicle also probably has multiple lights available, including oil, coolant, and more. These indicate an imminent need for something while the check engine light needs the code reader or a trained eye to make a diagnosis.


While you cannot prevent a check engine light completely, you can certainly bring your vehicle to us for regular maintenance which should help find issues before they pop up and cause more inconvenience and cost more money.