What Does a “Service Engine Soon” Light Mean?

Regular preventive maintenance helps to minimize the likelihood of the dreaded check engine light. That doesn’t mean you will never see it, but it not only lessens the chance of it happening, it also reduces the chances that it will be something significant. That light isn’t a warning you want to ignore even if it’s inconvenient or doesn’t seem urgent. It could be a myriad of problems, from something as small as you forgot to tighten your gas cap to severe engine problems. 

When it’s a steady light, that is usually an indication that it’s a less severe problem. When it’s blinking, it’s a sign that it requires immediate attention no matter how full your schedule is for the day. When the check engine light is on, the problem with continuing to drive is that if it is something more serious, driving it could lead to catastrophic failure, which means there will be no fixing the problem. 

In 2019, CarMD published a report of the top 10 causes of a check engine light:

  1. Replace catalytic converter with new OE catalytic converter
  2. Replace oxygen sensor
  3. Replace ignition coils and spark plugs
  4. Tighten or replace the gas cap
  5. Replace mass airflow (MAF) sensor 
  6. Replace ignition coils
  7. Replace evaporative emissions (EVAP) purge control valve
  8. Replace fuel injectors
  9. Replace evaporative emissions (EVAP) purge solenoid
  10. Replace thermostat

The average cost of these repairs in 2019 ranged from $25 to $1,300. It is possible that when that light shows up on your dash, it’s nothing. The problem is that there is no way to be sure unless you have it checked out for potential problems. Also, keep in mind that the light very rarely shows up for no reason at all. 

Another essential factor to keep in mind is that you can’t pass your smog test with it in the state of California. The reason for that is because one of the leading causes of that check engine light has something to do with your car’s oxygen sensors. The oxygen sensors determine the amount of oxygen in the exhaust. When the oxygen sensors aren’t working right, your vehicle can’t run at maximum efficiency.

Your check engine light is your friend. Like any other good friend, it will tell you when something is wrong, and you don’t want to ignore its advice. If you listen to that friend, it can save you from being stranded on the side of the road and help things from getting worse. Don’t ignore your friend’s advice!

If you are looking for a trustworthy auto repair shop that can help you out with that pesky check engine light, look no further than Foothill Auto Service. Our team of well-trained and dedicated auto mechanics provides thorough professional auto repair services to each of our valued customers. Our team prides itself on keeping you updated throughout your service. 

Customers from Lake Forest, Foothill Ranch, Portola Hills, Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto De Caza, Mission Viejo & Trabuco Canyon have come to trust our commitment to quality auto repair. If your vehicle needs preventive maintenance, repairs, or a check engine light diagnosis, call us today or schedule an appointment online so we can take great care of you and your vehicle. Experience the Foothill Auto Service difference, and you’ll be glad you did. We are located at 26911 Vista Terrace, Lake Forest, CA 92630. We look forward to your visit!

Written by Foothill Auto Service