I’m a pretty stubborn person—I always have been and there’s nothing you can say to change my mind on the matter. My mom says I come by it naturally, and refuses to accept any other possible reason. I like to do things, and I like to do them on my own damn time. Honestly, I don’t mind checking my vehicle’s oil, tire pressure, or even taking it in for regular maintenance. I even check my vehicle’s battery (which may be a result of an unfortunate accident regarding my Uncle Steve). What I don’t like is being told what to do and when to do it. So when that nasty little Check Engine light surfaces on my dashboard, you can bet I’m none too pleased about the matter. No one has ever liked seeing it, and nothing good has ever come from it. But I’m here to tell you that it might not be as bad as you think. So read on and learn about the cause of, and some solutions to, that annoying little Check Engine light when it turns on.
Why does this stupid light exist in the first place?
Your Ford has a powertrain control module, or PCM for short, consists of a number of sensors that monitor different aspects of your vehicle’s performance and emissions. Right from the air intake that enters your engine, to the amount of air and fuel in your exhaust. When something goes wrong with the performance of one of these parts, the PCM finds a code associated with the part and triggers the Check Engine light. So one minute you’re driving along, jamming out to some of Bon Jovi’s greatest hits, and the next minute you feel like you’ve been shot through the heart by a little (usually) yellow light on your vehicle’s dash. Luckily for you, this can indicate a malfunction that isn’t too serious (sometimes). Now before panic sets in, examine the light itself. When you’ve got a solid yellow Check Engine light, the problem should obviously be checked out, but you’ve probably got some time to spare. Should the light turn red or flash, that’s your cue to find the nearest service department ASAP.
Roll up those sleeves, you DIY champ you!
When the Check Engine light is a solid yellow, there are a few things you can easily check to provide a bit of peace of mind.
- Does your engine have oil? This one should be obvious, since oil is the lifeblood of your car.
- Are your battery’s terminals loose, or corroded? We’ve spoken about when to check your battery before—no need to relive that grief.
- Has your vehicle recently been serviced? If so, take it back and see if they may have triggered one of the sensors. Of course, if you came to Team Ford and saw our factory trained-service technicians, this wouldn’t be an issue.
- Is your gas cap screwed on properly? Look, I get it (and so do the people of Oregon): pumping gas can be difficult. Even the professionals at DOMO get this one wrong from time to time.
So before you freak out about the Check Engine light, know that there are a few things you can check yourself to troubleshoot. Some parts stores actually scan your vehicle for free, and scan tools are available to purchase as well. That way, if you’re particularly handy you can feel free to diagnose the problem and fix it yourself.
We would suggest though, that when you have a flashing Check Engine light, you should head to a dealership immediately to get it checked out. The longer you drive with malfunction, the more damage you can do—including a common issue that damages the catalytic converter (a very expensive repair). It’s also probably safe to drive, but be very cautious as your vehicle may lose power or stall.
Look, I may be a stubborn jerk sometimes, but no one can tell me I don’t take great care of my Ford—all starting with regular maintenance and continuing with checking for problems when my Check Engine light comes on, whether I like it or not. So if your Check Engine light comes on, check for the issues we’ve noted above, and if those aren’t the root of the problem, come by Team Ford’s service department and we can help you with whatever is ailing your Ford.