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Dashboard Warning Lights and Check Engine Lights

Dashboard Warning Lights

Don't be plagued with questions, have your Check Engine Light diagnosed, tested, and reset!

The Electronic Control Module - ECM - within every vehicle is responsible for monitoring and managing the internal systems, function, and overall performance. When the vehicle computer sees information out of the expected range, the Check Engine Light will illuminate on the dashboard to indicate that a "trouble code" is present and stored in the memory of the ECM. These Diagnostic Trouble Codes are associated with different areas of the vehicle system, and can expose even a circuit that needs to be tested further. These codes can be pulled from the car's computer even if the dashboard light goes off, and are easily read by a scanner in your local automotive repair shop.

There is only one way to clear the codes from your vehicle computer; to access them through a Check Engine Light Scan. It tells the mechanic what system to look for and troubleshoot more effectively. Any ASE-Certified shop has the equipment necessary to locate the DTC from your computer, translate them, and then clear the codes after resolving the problem.

The Emission Control System is a common reason the Check Engine Light comes on.

The Check Engine Light that appears on your dashboard can be unnerving, but it's not the end of the world - it's simply a warning indicator light from the ECM telling you that a component under the hood is not working as expected. Scanning and identifying the trouble code behind the Check Engine Light does not automatically give a simple solution to the problem your vehicle is experiencing. In many cases, it simply points us in the right direction of the problem - helping us isolate the problem faster. There is usually still some diagnostic time involved in testing and finally determining the actual fault in your car.

Did you know that the Service Engine Soon light and the Check Engine Light stand for the same thing? It's true! You should pay the same attention and importance to the Service Engine light as you do the Check Engine Light. They are both very important to the health of your vehicle and ignoring repairs at this stage can lead to far more extensive and expensive automotive repairs later down the line.

If you ever notice that your Check Engine Light is shaking on your dash, it generally means that a critical component of your emission control and engine management system are experiencing a serious problem. It usually involves a component or system that the vehicle actually requires to run. You should take your vehicle to the shop immediately if you see your Check Engine Light shaking and have the problem fixed before continuing to drive the car.


Is your Check Engine Light flashing on and off? Is it coming on while you're driving inside the city in stop-and-go traffic, and it goes back off when you're driving on the highway? That's a good indication that the problem with your vehicle is only occuring during specific driving conditions. If you notice things like this, they're great to share with your Technician to help them better isolate the problem. You should pay close attention to how your vehicle handles and performs when the CEL is active, and the differences when the light flashes off.

If you notice that the performance does change, you should try to drive the car as little as possible and get it into a trusted Repair Shop to be diagnosed and repaired.

When the Check Engine Light is blinking or flashing, you run a risk of the vehicle dying or not starting up. It's important to take the CEL seriously when it comes on, whether it flashes or not. At the very least, ask for a free Check Engine Light Scan and document the DTC that they discover.


It's a very scary experience when your Check Engine Light comes on; some people say it's one of the most unnerving experiences they've ever had. We completely understand how seeing that light illuminate can be frustrating. We want you to understand that the Check Engine Light is meant only as a warning and information signal of a potential problem. It doesn't always mean there is already a problem. Nonetheless, you should take the appropriate steps to get your CEL diagnosed and repaired properly.

If the Check Engine Light comes on while you're driving but there isn't any noticeable driving or performance problems, it's usually a good indication that there's a permanent fault in the Emission Control System. When the CEL turns on, the computer that controls the emission system has a backup program, called a "Limp Home Mode" program, that will run while the fault is present. You should get your vehicle serviced as soon as possible, even if the vehicle continues to operate, because you run a high risk of the vehicle dying or not starting. You can't depend on a Limp Home Mode program to carry the vehicle long and you don't wnat to incur more damage by not fixing a small problem while it was still small.