Essential Steps To Take When Your Check Engine Light Comes On

2 mins read

The engine check light is fitted to every modern vehicle as a safety feature. However, while it is there to protect your vehicle, that doesn’t stop the instant feeling of dread when it comes on and won’t go off again.

It is important to note that the engine check light should come on when you turn the ignition on. The light will remain on for a few seconds after start-up, confirming it is working properly. If the light doesn’t go off or you are driving then you need to follow these guidelines.

Pull Over

An engine check light means your vehicle has a serious fault. Continuing to drive could cause a much bigger issue. That’s why you should pull over as soon as safely possible. Of course, if the light is accompanied by a loss of power or other problems with the engine, then you need to stop instantly. Don’t forget that an engine check light often forces a vehicle into limp mode. This reduces power to protect the engine. Therefore, reduced power but everything else seeming normal indicates you can continue and pull over as soon as safe to do so.

Assuming the vehicle is still running properly pull over at a safe spot.

Check your Vehicle

Engine check lights come on for a wide range of reasons. It can be as simple as a gas cap being loose. Before you do anything else, walk slowly around the vehicle and look for any obvious issues. If you see any, sort them out. You can then turn the engine back on to see if the light has gone out or not.


You should also check your manual. Most modern vehicles differentiate between a flashing engine check light and a static one. Check your manual to see whether your engine check light is a serious issue or simply a warning.

Get To A Specialist

It’s a personal decision regarding whether to drive the vehicle or have it towed. In most cases, if the vehicle is performing normally and you’re not far from your technician, it’s easiest to drive it there. But, there is never anything wrong with getting a tow to minimize possible damage.

Your automotive electrician will plug the vehicle into a diagnostic machine. This will scan the system and locate the fault codes as well as assessing engine performance, etc. The codes and other information produced will help them understand what is wrong with your vehicle. They can then discuss the best way to deal with the issue, how serious it is, and even whether you can continue driving the vehicle before the repairs are completed.

Don’t forget, an engine check light means you are likely to fail an emissions test. In fact, you may not even be legally able to drive with your check light on. It’s important to verify this before you continue driving. However, in all cases, the best option is to get it repaired as soon as possible and prevent anything major from going wrong with your vehicle.