Over the past 20 years, cars have become increasing dependent on their on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems to keep them running at peak efficiency. Your car’s OBD system is constantly checking the various computers that control a multitude of operations including engine idle speeds, fuel mixtures, emissions and engine performance. Whenever the computer controls cannot adjust for a problem, the OBD system records a trouble code and illuminates the warning light on your dash. Your car can detect major malfunctions as well as small irregularities, triggering the warning light to alert you before any serious damage or performance issues arise. Always pay attention to your Service Engine Soon light- your car is trying to tell you something! There is no such thing as a false code!
In 1970 the average car had only $25 worth of electronics. That figure reached over $3,500 by 1996. Today that figure has reached over $6,000. The figure will continue to rise with the installation of up to 40 different computers on certain vehicles.
Check Engine Light On?
Service Engine Soon!
Vehicles’ computers operate everything from air conditioning, radios, air bags, alarm systems, anti-lock braking systems, traction control, ride control, cruise control, analog and digital gauges, automatic transmissions, emission and engine controls. These computers can cost from $250 to as much as $1,500 depending on what they control.
Instead of using proper diagnostic procedures, some do-it-yourselfers and shops without the technical experience resort to trial and error parts swapping when they don’t know how to repair computer and performance issues. Since car dealers and parts suppliers refuse to allow the return of electronic components (due to possible damage) that may leave you, the consumer, with expensive parts you didn’t need. In fact, manufacturers have reported that 80% of all returned computers were found to be okay.
Avoid unnecessary repair and parts costs! We have the latest in computerized diagnostic equipment, a computerized information system and experienced ASE Master Certified Technicians who are trained to properly care for your vehicle. Our computer diagnostics can save you money by correctly diagnosing your vehicle’s problems right from the start.
Let one of our Master Certified Technicians help you today.
Some people in our area are confused by charges for diagnostic services for a vehicle repair, even though many other services in life include diagnostic fees – things like computer service and appliance repair.
Even when we go into the doctor for a medical problem, we’re paying her to diagnose our ailment and of course for the tests that go along with it. So receiving a diagnostic charge for a tricky automotive problem shouldn’t be a surprise.
Automotive diagnostics can cover quite a range. If you hear a noise in your brakes, a visual inspection is usually enough to know what needs to be done. If you’re having an intermittent problem with your engine, diagnosis may be much more involved.
Some think that when the check engine light comes on, the engine computer tells the technician exactly what the problem is. The reality is much different. The trouble code just tells the technician what engine parameter is out of range, not what’s causing it. Our Technicians will determine the underlying problem that’s causing the symptom.
As you can imagine, some automotive diagnoses are quick and easy. Others are more involved and difficult. Of course, we want to figure out what’s wrong with your vehicle and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.
Decoding your Dashboard:
Your dashboard is designed to keep you informed about the health of your vehicle. Trust the dashboard indicator light decoder to give you the insight you need to understand what is going on with your car. From your check engine light to your oil pressure light, we have the information you need to understand why that light might be on…even if it’s because you’ve accidentally left your door open or your parking brake up. Simply review the dashboard indicators below and learn all about your dashboard lights. If you are in a bad situation or require immediate assistance, call us and we will do everything it takes to get you back on the road safely and with confidence.
Anti-Lock Brake System Light
The Anti-Lock Brake System Light, also known as the ABS Light, indicates that there is a malfunction in your vehicle’s anti-lock brake system. The malfunction is logged by your vehicle’s onboard computer system and the applicable OBD2 codes are readable only with diagnostic tools. Issues triggering your Anti-Lock Brake System Light can range in nature from a dirty wheel sensor to loss of voltage. When the ABS light triggers, your anti-lock brake system disengages and does not turn back on until your vehicle is serviced. Even if the ABS light is on, you should have normal brake pedal and stopping capabilities.
The Brake Light can be activated for a number of reasons. The simplest cause is that the parking brake is engaged. If the brake light is still illuminated after the parking brake has been fully disengaged, there could be a more serious issue. Lack of hydraulic pressure or a low fluid level due to leaking will both generate your Brake Light – and both issues indicate an immediate need for service. Brake fluid leaks are particularly dangerous as they can cause your brakes to fail and contaminate different components of your brake system. Make sure your brakes are still stopping your vehicle if you are attempting to drive. If there is no brake pressure at all, it is safest to stop driving and call for a tow.
Check Engine Light
The Check Engine Light is triggered by a systematic abnormality detected by your vehicle’s onboard computer system. This light can activate for a number of reasons that vary in severity. The check engine light can trigger for something as simple as a loose gas cap to something as serious as a faulty catalytic converter. Upon being triggered, a fault code, also known as OBD2 codes, detailing the nature of the issue is registered in your vehicle’s diagnostic system. This fault code is stored and can only be retrieved via diagnostic equipment. If your Check Engine Light is on, make sure you bring your vehicle in for testing as soon as possible. If your Check Engine Light is flashing, your onboard computer system is logging a potentially dangerous problem and you should not drive your car.
The Battery Light indicator triggers when there is an issue with your vehicle’s electrical system. The cause can be something small, such as a loose wire, or something larger like your vehicle’s battery not properly holding a charge. If this light turns on while you are driving, try to keep your ignition running – if you turn your car off, it may not restart. Bring your vehicle into our shop for a battery test. If you are not able to get your car to start, we advise that you call for a tow.
Temperature Warning Light
The Temperature Warning Light gauges the heat of your engine. If the light engages, it is indicating that your engine is overheating. Overheating can be the result of a low coolant level. If this light activates while you are driving, immediately pull over and turn your car off to let it cool. Do not open the radiator before your car has had a chance to cool down as it could be very hot and cause an injury.
Fog Lamp Indicator
The Fog Lamp Indicator serves as a confirmation that your fog lamps are illuminated.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Your Tire Pressure Monitoring System Light, or TPMS light, warns that there is a drop in air pressure in one or more tires. You should add air to your low tire(s) as soon as possible. If you add air and your tire is continuously losing air, you may have a puncture in the tire.
The Tire Rotation Light triggers to let you know that it is time to rotate your tires. Rotating your tires promotes even wear to extend your tire life. Look for occasional promotions from us, where we package other preventative maintenance services such oil change and/or brake inspections along with a tire rotation.
Door Ajar Light
The Door Ajar Light indicates that a door or trunk is not closed properly. Please check all of your doors and your trunk to ensure that they are closed. Upon closing properly the Door Ajar Warning Light will disengage. If it does not, you may need your computer reset.
The Airbag Light indicates that there may be an issue with the deployment of your air bags. This is especially dangerous in the event of an accident. It is advisable to have this matter diagnosed as quickly as possible in order to keep you and your passengers safe.
Hazard Lights signal caution to other motorists. This indicator is typically a lamp with a built in switch that is used to operate the hazard flashers.
Service Engine Soon
The Service Engine Soon Light is triggered by a systematic abnormality detected by your vehicle’s onboard computer system. This light can activate for a number of reasons that vary in severity. The Service Engine Soon Light can trigger for something as simple as a loose gas cap to something as serious as a faulty catalytic convertor. Upon being triggered, a fault code, also known as OBD2 codes, detailing the nature of the issue is registered in your vehicle’s diagnostic system. This fault code is stored and can only be retrieved via diagnostic equipment. If your Service Engine Soon Light is on, make sure you bring your vehicle into our Repair Facility for testing as soon as possible. If your Service Engine Soon Light is flashing, your onboard computer system is logging a potentially dangerous problem and you should not drive your car.
Traction Control System Light
Traction Control is also known as Anti-Slip Regulation. Traction Control engages in slippery driving conditions when wheels are spinning out of synch. The system triggers your ABS system to apply brake friction to even out and stabilize the wheels spinning out of synch. When the Traction Control System Light activates, the triggering device is disabled and cannot control the amount of wheel slip in a driving situation. If the light remains illuminated for an extended period of time, you might need an OBD2 code pull for diagnosis.
Oil Pressure Light
The Oil Pressure Light indicates one of two things – Either the sensor that activates the Oil Pressure dashboard light has failed or your engine has low oil pressure. Low oil pressure could be the result of a leak or your engine burning oil. Check your oil levels with a dipstick and add motor oil if needed. If your light stays on, we advise that you call for a tow. If you are experiencing a leak or just need an oil change, contact us to set up an appointment.
The Headlight Indicator serves as a confirmation that your headlights are illuminated. If the clarity of your headlights is less than optimal, try our headlight restoration products or service package.
Low Fuel Light
The Low Fuel Light engages when your vehicle’s fuel sensing unit hits a specified amount of resistance indicating the need for more gas. If your low fuel light comes on, it is probably time to fill up.
How soon after the Check Engine Light comes on do I need to have my car serviced?
The good news is unless the light is flashing, you don’t need to stop and call a tow truck. While almost any maintenance issue will eventually lead to serious problems if left alone, the typical OBD fault issue should be checked out within a few days. In most late-model vehicles, if the fault requires immediate attention the light will flash or turn from yellow to red. That’s when you should pull over in a safe place and call for a tow.
My technician turned the light off and it came back on a week later. Why?
The Onboard Diagnostic (OBD) system is consistently performing a variety of “self-tests” to determine if your vehicle is working as efficiently and cleanly as possible. When a potential problem or failure is identified, the system will compensate if possible, and many of these tests are delayed or turned off. This is especially true if you have continued driving with the check engine light on for several days.
Once repairs are completed, the OBD system resumes its self-testing process, and some of these tests require specific conditions to provide thorough and accurate results. For example, one requires an 8 hour delay before starting the engine to provide accurate results while another requires the vehicle to be driven for several minutes above 50 mph. This is why the testing phase is so important to scheduling and conducting a proper repair the first time.
Of course, if you have any questions or concerns about your Check Engine or Service Engine lights, our professionals at Pro Auto Care & Transmission will be happy to answer your questions. Stop in or call us at 352-308-8396 today!