Checking Out the History of Check Engine

How the Check Engine Light Came to Be

If you’ve been driving awhile, chances are you’ve seen the check engine light come on at some point. But did you ever wonder how it came into existence? Maybe not. Most of us are too busy worrying over what problem has triggered the light, whether we should stop or keep driving and how much the repair bill is going to be. Before you cause yourself too much check engine stress, bring your car to Jeff’s Auto Repair in Renton, Washington, for proper diagnosis and repair.

A Brief History

Today’s check engine light also called the malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) or Service Engine Soon lamp, is a second-generation indicator. The first generation was known as the OBD-I (On Board Diagnostics). Found in some 1980’s and earlier 1990’s vehicles, these systems and the information they provided were specific to each car manufacturer that used them. The trouble codes were not applicable across multiple car companies. Beginning in 1996, all vehicles were required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use a universal system that would generate common codes to alert drivers to problems, show service providers the area of the problem, and help control emissions. This mandate necessitated and facilitated the OBD-II. These newer computers now generate universal trouble codes that cross manufacturers.

Correcting the Issues

When you have a solid illuminated check engine light, it is advisable to take your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible. If you have a flashing check engine light symbol, this usually means there could be a major problem occurring and you should pull over immediately if operating your vehicle and contact a professional. Once the car is connected to a computerized code reader, the machine will give the technician a trouble code. This code tells the service provider the general area in which to look. (It is a misconception that the machine does all the work. While it gives helpful information, the technician still has to troubleshoot to find the exact problem.) Common issues that cause this warning signal include faulty spark plugs and wires, a bad catalytic converter, a bad alternator, a loose gas cap, a faulty mass airflow sensor, ignition coil issues, a bad oxygen sensor, or a vacuum leak. Repairing the issue before it becomes more serious saves you additional headache and expense in the future.

We’re Here To Help

The ASE certified technicians at Jeff’s Auto Repair in Renton, Washington, can help you with finding and fixing your car’s check engine issues.

Written by Jeff's Auto Repair

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