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What Should You Do When the Check Engine Light Comes On?

A check engine light can give you headaches if you aren’t careful with how you handle it. In fact, the biggest mistake that drivers make is ignoring it or waiting too long to have it fixed. Next time you notice an illuminated check engine light, be curious and try to fix the problem as soon as you can. In some cases, it isn’t even a problem with the engine and can be as minor as a loose gas cap. 

Common Reasons for Check Engine Light 

  • Loose, damaged, or missing gas cap -  Make sure you tighten this every time you fill up!
  • Failing Sensors - An oxygen sensor or mass airflow sensor replacement is sometimes all it needs. 
  • Worn Spark Plugs - If your vehicle is misfiring, it is probably due to old spark plugs.
  • Overheating Catalytic Converter - A strained catalytic converter can cause hazardous fumes to leak. Be careful with this one!

When a check engine light appears on your dash, one of the first things you should do is to check if your gas cap is fastened. It is the easiest, quickest, and cheapest repair from the list above. If your fuel lid is not the problem, then please look at how the check engine light behaves. 

If the check engine light only comes on and off randomly…

You should closely monitor the light. If the light goes away after you drive, you should still pay attention to how your vehicle drives. If it displays any unusual signs or performance issues, you should still bring your car in for an inspection. 

If the check engine light stays on…

If the check engine light stays illuminated and steady, you should have a professional mechanic check your emissions control system. A steady check engine light can be a minor to moderate issue that can spread quickly if left unattended.

If the light flickers constantly…

A flashing check engine light is an indication that you have a serious problem on your hands. You should stop driving your car immediately and get your vehicle to an auto repair shop pronto. Continuing to drive your car can do some major damage to your engine.


Check engine light problems can blow up in your face and haunt you later on. If you are looking for honest and accurate check engine light diagnostics and repairs, we welcome you to Don’s D.I. Auto & Truck Service.

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