If you just bought your first car, you might not be too familiar with maintenance and servicing. If you're car is equipped with dashboard indicator lights, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with what each one of them means. One light that might cause you some concern is the check engine light. In fact, the check engine light can instill fear in even the most seasoned car owner.
However, just because your check engine light has illuminated, doesn't mean you automatically have something to worry about. There are several minor issues that can cause this light to activate. If your check engine light has come on, here are four things you should do.
1. Look at the Rest of Your Gauges
Now that your check engine light is on, look at the rest of the gauges on your dashboard. If there's something seriously wrong with your car, other indicator lights may come on at the same time. This is particularly true where the oil pressure and the temperature warning lights are concerned. If the rest of your indicator lights and gauges look normal or have not illuminated, there's probably something minor affecting your car.
2. Take the Pressure Off Your Car
If your check engine light comes on while you have your car loaded down, or you're traveling up a steep incline, take some pressure off the engine. Slow down your rate of speed to give your car a break for a few miles. Check engine lights often come on when there's too much pressure or strain on the engine.
3. Replace Your Gas Cap
If you've recently filled up your gas tank, and the check engine light comes on, pull over and check your gas cap. If the cap isn't on tight enough, air can get into the tank, causing the check engine light to come on.
If your gas cap looks worse for wear, or isn't closing tight enough, it's time to purchase a new cap. Replacing the gas cap should make the indicator light shut off.
4. Visit the Mechanic
If you've tried all the simple tips provided above, and your dashboard check engine light is still illuminated, it's time to visit the mechanic who offers a check engine light service. Once the minor issues have been addressed, you'll need to have a mechanic diagnose the problem as soon as possible. You could have a problem with the catalytic converter or your engine valves.