One of the most frustrating things about car ownership is the check engine light. The little dashboard light symbolizes both minor and potentially massive expenses, so every time it turns on, it causes a panic in the vehicle owner.
For people who drive older vehicles, the light might become like a staple, something they are used to or expect. However, regardless of your vehicle’s age, the light indicates something is wrong and should be checked, especially during the winter months when being stranded could mean life or death.
Why the Check Engine Light Is Important
When it comes to the array of car parts that make your vehicle go, the check engine light seems so minuscule. Still, it is an essential element of the car, and while it can signify something as nonconsequential as a loose gas cap, it can also pinpoint more severe issues that can result in compounding damage if left unchecked.
The check engine light is, above all else, a warning system. It is directly linked to the car’s computer system, and it is there to alert you when something is not quite right. Thankfully, there are tools available to help identify the specific issue causing the light to illuminate. Most auto parts stores will have these tools available, and many offer free readings.
It is worth it to take your car to a location for a reading. Once you diagnose the underlying issue, you can tell if it is something that needs to be dealt with immediately or if it can wait.
Why a Poor Battery Can Cause a Check Engine Light
Did you know that your car battery sends a signal to the computer system, letting it know that everything is functioning the way it is supposed to? When a battery is undercharged or faulty, it does not have the energy to send a strong enough signal to the computer. The computer notes this lack of energy and causes the check engine light to illuminate.
While there are many potential reasons for a faulty or failing car battery, one of the primary reasons is a faulty or failing alternator. The alternator is responsible for charging the battery, but when it isn’t operating at full capacity, it might not be able to produce a full charge.
Why You Should Have Your Vehicle Checked
While it is easy to brush off worries about the check engine light, especially if you are used to seeing it, you should have your car checked. The winter is no time to play around. A warning light is there for a reason, so it is always better to be safe than sorry. The best part about checking your engine light is that many auto parts stores will provide the service for free.
Has your check engine light recently turned on? Is this a frequent occurrence, or is it something new? Head over to your local auto parts store and see if you can get a reading to diagnose the issues.