What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?

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You’re driving along in your car or truck and suddenly a yellow light illuminates on your dash telling you to check or service your engine. If you’re like most car owners, you have little idea about what that light is trying to tell you or exactly how you should react.

Call it the most misunderstood indicator on your dashboard, the “check engine” light can mean many different things, from a loose gas cap to a seriously misfiring engine… More at Consumer Reports.

Seems to me that we are reaching the point where cars are now extremely reliable. They do not rust anymore and the expectation is to not break down at any point.

The price for this, however, is the increased number of sensors that are built in to cars to check almost every part of the engine and related parts throughout the car.

My mechanic said to me recently that over 70% of his work is dealing with sensors that have broken, as opposed to the parts they were sensing which are still working fine. Seems there is always a trade-off.

5 thoughts on “What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?

  1. Cars “do not rush anymore…” – I so love that feature in today’s cars; getting all screwed-up trying to get to places on time was always a real bind. Hurrah for cars that don’t rush anymore, says I.

    Now, if they can cure the ‘my wife just scraped the whole passenger side of our car on a bollard this week’ problem I’d be very grateful…and so would my bank manager.

  2. Cars don’t rust anymore?

    Do more expensive cars have more nuanced ways of telling you “hey whats going wrong is X” or do they just want to throw up the idiot light and make you go to a mechanic with a properly registered de-encrypter?

  3. Isn’t that ironic? The things that tell you there’s something wrong are less reliable than the things they’re checking.

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