When ‘Check Engine’ Might Mean ‘Check Emissions’

Emissions Problems Can Trigger Your Car’s Warning Light

The check engine light just came on. Those words may be simple, but perhaps you feel they might as well be written in a foreign language. What could that warning light mean? While the check engine light can indicate a number of issues that need attention, a common culprit is your vehicle’s emission system. The emissions system is designed to keep cars from excessively polluting the air. Its major components include the catalytic converter, positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve, evaporative controls, and an air injection system. Overwhelmed yet? Don’t be! If you need these terms simplified and want to get to the bottom of your check engine light, bring your car to AutoStream in Clarksburg, Maryland. Our ASE certified technicians speak the check engine language — and yours.

The Translator

Once the check engine light has illuminated, your car’s computer generates a trouble code. That code remains, ready to be read, even if the light goes out. A certified technician will be able to retrieve the code using a specialized computer known as an OBD-II scanner. That code will reveal the exact nature of the problem that triggered the warning. Thus, the scanner functions in much the same way as does a language translator.

Preparing to Pass the Test

When it’s time to have your car or truck inspected, most states require some form of emissions testing in at least a portion of their territories. This helps them meet the legal requirements of the federal Clean Air Act. Maryland requires inspection prior to transferring the registration. (Of interest, today’s passenger vehicles operate 99% cleaner in terms of emissions than did cars in 1970 when the legislation was passed.)

Since the check engine light may indicate a problem with the emissions system, your car likely won’t pass inspection unless you take care of the underlying issue. While there are many reasons related to emissions that cause the check engine light to come on, the most common repairs are: replacement of an oxygen sensor, replacing the catalytic converter, replacing spark plugs, tightening or replacing a faulty gas cap, and replacing the mass air flow sensor. Again, the trouble code will help pinpoint the problem so that you don’t haphazardly pay for unnecessary repairs.

Getting Professional Help

Not only will repairing the emissions issue get your car up to par for inspection, it will also likely help your vehicle operate more efficiently. If your check engine light has come on, bring your vehicle to AutoStream Car Care Center in Clarksburg, Maryland. We’ll help you decipher what it means and assist you with getting the problem corrected.

Written by Doug Grills

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