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dashboard check engine light
What to check when the engine warning light comes on...

Engine Light Warning!

What does it mean?

When your engine warning light comes on there are many things that can be associated with it. It could be something minor, like the petrol cap not properly tightened or if you have an older car a spark plug lead may be loose or have moisture in it, to some major component malfunction, like catalytic converters, fuel injectors or something else. But one thing you can rely on is that whatever it is, it relates directly to the components of your engine or it's fuel, electrical and emissions systems.

The big thing is not to panic. Just because the light is on does not mean things will be expensive to fix or that you have a major failure. The best thing you can do is start with the little things. Check the fuel cap, engine leads (if you have them), look at your fuel filter. Start from a place you are familiar with and work from there. If you do not understand what you are doing or cannot find the problem then we recommend that you bring your vehicle in for us to have a look at as soon as possible. We have all the latest diagnostic equipment and will be able to find the problem quickly and efficiently. We will then let you know what we find and give you some direction as to what should be fixed first.

Below is a small list of some of the more common problems that can be responsible for engine light warnings

  • Petrol cap may be loose
  • This is perhaps the easiest thing to check and fix. Your engine warning light can come on because not having the cap on may cause pressure issues in your fuel system and your engine will detect a fuel related problem.

  • Faulty thermostat
  • Your thermostat regulates the coolant running through your engine. It isolates the water in the engine block until it reaches running temperature, then opens up to allow cooler water from the radiator into the engine completing the cooling cycle in your vehicle. If there is an issue with your thermostat it may not open which will cause the engine to overheat as it cannot cool properly without the radiator. This is an inexpensive repair.

  • Mass airflow sensor may need replacing
  • This component measures the amount of airflow into the engine to calculate the correct amount of fuel to mix for optimal performance and economy. If it is faulty you may have issues with fuel economy and performance as too much fuel is just as problematic for your engine as not having enough.

  • Fuel Injectors
  • Sometimes this can be a difficult problem to diagnose as injectors normally don't suddenly stop working. The problem can build up slowly before finally compromising the injector. Issues with injectors tend to be from dirty fuel. This can arise from running the tank down to empty often and picking up all the debris in the bottom of your fuel tank or perhaps from dirty fuel.

  • Ignition coils, leads or spark plugs need replacing
  • Whether it is an ignition coil, lead or sparkplug, your vehicle needs electricity to cause a spark and ignite the fuel in the cylinder. These components are how your engine gets it's power and creates a spark for combustion. Newer cars do not use leads any more and simply have ignition coils instead. However, if any one of these parts fails to deliver the electricity causing the spark correctly the cylinder may ignite too early, too late causing a backfire or not at all causing the engine cylinder to miss altogether. This will create idling and performance issues as well as loss of power and poor fuel economy.

  • Oxygen sensor issue
  • The oxygen sensor is located behind the engine and monitors the amount of oxygen in your exhaust emissions. This tells the computer how much oxygen is in the exhaust, whether the fuel mix is too lean or rich (not enough fuel or too much fuel). The engine computer can then adjust the fuel air ratio to a more suitable level. Apart from fuel consumption and emission issues your car will also lack performance.

  • Catalytic converters need replacing
  • Catalytic converters are expensive as they are lined with platinum, rhodium, palladium and even gold! They cause a chemical reaction in the exhaust gasses reducing pollutants by up to 40% and also with enough oxygen will burn the unburned hydrocarbons and CO. These are an integral part of your emissions system and a legal requirement of modern motor vehicles.

  • Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve may need replacing
  • The EGR valve controls emissions and will help your car run more efficiently. If you are experiencing a problem with this system then you may experience rough idling, engine hesitation and possible misfire which can effect your performance, fuel economy and emission levels.

A catalytic converter
A cutout of a diesel catalytic converter
ignition coils
Ignition coils
Fuel Injection System Cut-away
A cut away view of a diesel fuel injection system

Book your engine light check today

At Everything Automotive we repair all engine light issues quickly and efficiently. In most cases you will have your vehicle back the same day. If your engine light comes on call us immediately on (07) 4054 6661 and bring it in straight away so we can take a look at it for you, or if you prefer you can use our bookings form and book it in directly. We look forward to serving you.

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