On-Board Diagnostics Computers

How Did the Light Get Turned On?

Nobody wants to see the check engine light come on when driving. Is it a simple issue or a major problem? Can it be fixed for a reasonable price, or will this be an expensive repair? Can I drive it a while, or do I need to pull over now? With all these questions swirling in your mind, you may not have thought to ask, “How did we come to have this light, anyway?” If your check engine light is illuminated, bring your vehicle to AutoStream in Woodstock, Maryland. We’ll answer your questions, ease your mind, and get your car road-ready again.

The Importance of the Second Generation

Also called the MIL (Malfunction Indicator Lamp), the check engine light most of us know today is actually the second generation of this warning signal. OBD stands for On-Board Diagnostics. The OBD-I, or first-generation, was available on some vehicles in the 1980s and first half of the 1990s. The information provided by these diagnostic systems tended to be specific to particular manufacturers. Therefore, when the OBD-I triggered a warning that illuminated the check engine light (which also may say Service Engine Soon), the resulting trouble code was not generalizable across automakers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated that all cars model years 1996 onward have a universal coding system to help control emissions by alerting drivers to problems and identifying the general source of malfunction. Thus, the OBD-II was born. These newer computers generate trouble codes that are the same for similar problems regardless of the make you drive.

Making Repairs and Making the Light Go Out

When you take your car or truck to a service technician with an illuminated check engine light, he or she will connect the vehicle to a computerized code reader. This machine will give the mechanic a trouble code that identifies the category to which the problem belongs. Some customers mistakenly think that the trouble code reveals the exact nature of the malfunction. It does not. That’s why it’s important to use an auto repair shop with trained, experienced professionals. Based on the trouble code and their own knowledge, the technician will determine the issue that needs to be repaired and then fix it. For efficient service in repairing your car as well as expertise that will make the light go out, make an appointment with Woodstock, Maryland’s AutoStream Car Care.

Written by Doug Grills

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