Problem Solving & Diagnostics
Oh my God! The Check Engine Light is ON
Most of our clients in the Lower Mainland who have experienced this for the first time usually call us in a panic asking if they should turn off the engine immediately! We always advise our clients not to panic if your “Check Engine” or multi-function indicator light (MIL) comes on. There are a number of reasons why this may occur, ranging from something as minor as a loose gas cap or to something a bit more serious like an emissions problem which may eventually damage expensive parts like your catalytic convertor. Therefore, in order to avoid costly repairs, it is advisable to visit a reputable automotive repair and service center like Norlang Auto for problem solving.
We have built a reputation on having a “test, don’t guess” attitude when it comes to making an accurate diagnosis of vehicle issues. The technicians at Langley-based Norlang Auto receive ongoing training to ensure that the latest auto problems are caught in the diagnostic and problem solving phase of your vehicle’s life rather than the issue turning into a major repair.
Accurate and proper diagnostic work saves drivers a lot of money in the long run and Norlang Auto is determined to diagnose the issue properly the first time.
If a repair is needed, the team at Norlang Auto makes repairs that ensure the problem will not happen again. With manufacturer diagnostic tools (in most cases), up-to-date diagnostic information, quality parts, and a staff of great technicians, Norlang Auto provides the best problem solving and diagnostic work in Langley.
The Role of the Engine Light
Every year automobiles are becoming more and more sophisticated with respect to electronic components. As a result, it is necessary to monitor and control these components using an Electronic Control Module (ECM), which is basically a computer that controls the engine’s operations. This piece of equipment also sends feedback to the driver and mechanic by using its On-Board Diagnostics System (OBDII). Due to stringent emission regulations and the significance of fuel economy, the OBDII helps keep our vehicle’s engine running efficiently and producing the lowest levels of emissions. Consequently, the OBDII notifies us to make adjustments to the engine.
The “Check Engine” light should be considered our ‘friend’ since it warns us of minor issues which, if ignored, can become seriously expensive to deal with down the road. Some problems may not have noticeable ‘symptoms’ like excessive smoke from the exhaust, hard starting, rough running, stalling, leaks or noises. Therefore it is advisable to take your automobile to Norlang Auto where we can diagnose the problem immediately and help you avoid costly repairs and problems like poor fuel mileage, reduced performance or excessive exhaust emissions.
How to respond to the “Check Engine” Light
Your best option is to visit us at Norlang Auto where our experienced and knowledgeable technicians will use state-of-the-art diagnostic tools to inform you of the precise issues detected by your OBDII. As we mentioned before, the problem may be as minor as a loose gas cap or impurities in your fuel but it can also be an issue which may need further testing in order to avoid damage to vital car parts. If your automobile is still under a manufacturer’s warranty and the problem can be covered by the manufacturer, Norlang Auto will advise you to visit your dealer for free repairs. Please call us at (604) 337-1515 or contact us online.
The Most likely Causes for “Check Engine” Light to be Activated
Loose, Damaged or Missing Gas Cap
The job of the gas cap is to seal and maintain the pressure within the fuel tank and of course prevent your fuel from evaporating. As a result, for economic as well as environmental reasons, we need to have a proper working gas cap. This will only cost you a few dollars but it will save you a bundle.
Spark plugs and/or wires
These small inexpensive but vital parts of your automobile get your engine started by delivering the spark from the ignition coil to the spark plugs which in turn set off the air/fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. If these two simple components are not working properly, your engine will not perform to its ideal levels and you will experience poor fuel economy and damage more expensive parts like your ignition coil, oxygen sensor and catalytic convertor. So, the sooner you have our technicians at Norlang Auto replace them, the better your vehicle will perform and the less likely it will be that you’ll need to replace components which will cost you much more to replace.
Oxygen sensor malfunction
The oxygen sensor is vital because it keeps track of levels of unburned oxygen in the exhaust system, in other words, the more oxygen detected the more fuel a vehicle needs to burn which of course translates into unnecessarily excessive fuel costs. What’s more, high amounts of oxygen in the exhaust fumes can damage the spark plugs and catalytic converter. Replacing the spark plugs is not very expensive but the catalytic converter can run you into several hundred dollars-worth of repairs!
Mass Airflow sensor
This part is similar to the oxygen sensor since it keeps track of the amount of air which enters your engine in order to regulate the amount of fuel needed for the engine to function properly. As with the oxygen sensor, a faulty airflow sensor will affect your car’s performance and fuel consumption and, unfortunately, can damage your spark plugs, catalytic convertor and even your oxygen sensor since the amount of airflow in your engine will be excessive or insufficient.
The catalytic converter was developed in the 1950s for use in factory smoke stacks. However, it wasn’t really used on automobiles until the mid-1970s when stricter global air pollution regulations came into effect. This component of your car converts the poisonous carbon monoxide into a “less” harmful gas (carbon dioxide). If it is not working properly, your engine will not perform to its maximum, you may notice that it is running at higher than normal temperatures and of course it will affect your fuel economy. What’s more, if your vehicle is scheduled for an emissions test, it will most likely fail! At Norlang Auto, we can help you with the maintenance of your catalytic converter and save you from expensive repairs.
Importance of the “Service Engine Soon” Light
This warning light basically advises us (hence it’s usually yellow or orange in colour NOT red) that our vehicle is due for its scheduled service as most manufacturers pre-program this based on the mileage covered since your last service. However, it can also mean that your car is experiencing an emissions problem. Experiencing an emissions problem doesn’t mean that you need to turn off your engine immediately, but it may be an indication that your car is not performing to its ideal levels and that you are polluting the environment and, as we have explained, you may be damaging expensive components of your vehicle. As a result, we always advise our clients to visit us as soon as possible for a simple diagnostics test to determine the reason why the light has been activated.
What should I do if my automotive technician turns off the light but after a few days it comes on again?
There are several reasons why your “Check Engine” light may come on again soon after it was turned off. The OBDII system performs “self-tests” to evaluate the performance of your automobile and to ensure that it is not polluting the environment. It may be the case that some of the tests the system performs are temporarily deactivated especially when a car has been driven for days with the “Check Engine” light on.
In addition, after repairs are done the OBDII will begin conducting its self-tests which may detect a problem that was rendered temporarily inactive. You should also be aware that some of the self-tests conducted by the system call for particular conditions in order to run properly. For instance, not starting your automobile for a minimum of 8 hours or driving for a specific amount of time over 80 km per hour. Consequently, you will need well-trained professionals, like the technicians at Norlang Auto to diagnose the problems correctly and repair them properly the first time you take your vehicle to your local repair and service center.
We are more than happy to take the time to discuss any issues or queries you may have and explain the diagnostic procedures in more detail. Please call us at 604-337-1515 or contact us online for help with problem solving. We are conveniently located in Walnut Grove, Langley close to the major intersection of Highway One and 200th Street.