That little “check engine” light on your dashboard can cause a small panic if you don’t know why it’s on or what you should do. Do you take your car in to get serviced right away or can you ignore it until your car’s next scheduled service?

There are several reasons a car’s check engine light could come on. Here are five possible reasons. Remember – there may be others, so it is best to get your car checked by your local service provider.

Your sparkplugs need replacing

Sparkplugs that have worn out are unable to ignite the air and fuel mixture in your car’s engine. This can cause poor performance in your car, reducing the vehicle’s power and fuel economy. Worn out sparkplugs can cause the service engine light to come on. However, these can be replaced quite easily.

Mass airflow sensor

The mass airflow sensor dictates the amount of air that enters your engine. If the sensor has gone out, it is important to get it replaced to improve performance. It is also important to replace it as it will cause problems with sparkplugs and decrease fuel economy. A properly working mass airflow sensor will greatly improve the performance of your engine.

Catalytic converter

By not replacing your catalytic converter, your car is producing carbon monoxide that will harm the environment. The catalytic converter can become faulty if it is not maintained and regularly checked during tune-ups. Like the others on the list, a damaged catalytic converter causes poor performance. If it needs replacing, a car will not pass inspection. It is important to get the catalytic converter replaced to meet inspection requirements.

Gas cap

A loose, damaged or missing gas cap can cause the service engine light to come on. Without a gas cap, your gasoline could evaporate over time. Although it isn’t vital to have a gas cap, you should have one to prevent gasoline fumes from being released into the air. In addition, it can save you cash.

Oxygen Sensor

The oxygen sensor is connected to your car’s exhaust system. It measures unburned oxygen, and a faulty oxygen sensor will cause your car to burn more fuel, and cause you to burn more money. Experts say that a bad oxygen sensor will burn over one-third of your gasoline if ignored. It can also cause problems with other areas under the hood. Ultimately, it’s not a good idea to ignore dashboard lights, particularly your “service engine” light. Even though the trigger might be a simple fix, it’s best to take your car in as soon as possible and have it checked out by an expert. Hopefully, it’s a simple fix but if it’s not, the earlier you get it in, the more likely you are to prevent a far larger and more costly problem.

While some of these services will require an expert, other tasks fall firmly in the DIY category. Simple and easy!

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