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Will It Hurt My Engine If I Drive My Car When The Check Engine Light Is On?

Will It Hurt My Engine If I Drive My Car When The Check Engine Light Is On?

Your vehicle’s check engine light turns on. Then it starts wheezing like Puff the Magic Dragon. Should you be concerned?
This is a question we often get at the Mississauga Kia service department. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to answer. The best answer we can usually give is “possibly.”

Don’t Worry, Be Happy
As long as your vehicle’s essential systems (including lights and brakes) are operational, it should be safe to drive to our service bay. Keep a close eye on your coolant temperature and oil pressure, and watch for any other warning lights on your dash.

Run, Don’t Walk to Your Mechanic
If there are no apparent issues, it could be a minor problem, but getting it diagnosed as quickly as possible is essential. It’s hard to know the reason for your check engine light without a diagnostic check.
There are a few ways to check for the primary reasons your check engine light could be on, and there are many cases where it should be safe enough for you to drive to get it diagnosed at your nearest dealership.

Most Common Causes for the Check Engine Light
It can be challenging to say why your check engine light is on without running an in-depth diagnostic test, but there are many common reasons for a lit-up warning light! Here are the most common reasons:

• Faulty O2 sensor, – Your O2 sensor measures the oxygen in your exhaust system so your vehicle can adjust your engine's air/fuel mixture. A faulty O2 sensor will reduce your fuel economy and increase your vehicle’s emissions, but it isn’t so dangerous that you shouldn’t be able to drive it to your nearest service station.

• Loose Gas Cap – A loose gas cap will often cause your engine to throw an “evap” code, indicating that your fuel system has a vapour leak. If your gas cap is cracked, faulty, or loose, it could cause this warning light. On the other hand, an evap code could be caused by a more severe leak anywhere in the upper portion of your fuel system.

• Failed Catalytic Converter – Your catalytic converter is an essential emissions control in your exhaust system that converts carbon monoxide and other harmful gases into other by-products. If your catalytic converter fails, your gas mileage and performance will suffer. Unfortunately, a catalytic converter is generally an expensive part and is best left to a professional mechanic's job.

• Faulty Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor – The mass air flow sensor is a component that helps your car’s computer determine how much fuel to add based on the amount of air coming into the motor. Most MAF sensors fail due to an improperly installed or dirty air filter. While a faulty MAF sensor isn’t an emergency, you will notice a decrease in fuel economy, rough idle, and poor performance until you replace it.

• Failed Spark Plugs – If your vehicle’s spark plugs haven’t been replaced according to your manual's maintenance schedule, they could fail. This is a relatively inexpensive job you should do immediately if needed. A faulty ignition coil could also be the culprit, so it’s best to get your vehicle’s entire ignition system checked over if your check engine light is on.

• Dead Battery or Fault in Charging System – If your battery is nearing the end of its life or your charging system is no longer running efficiently, this could also cause a lit-up check engine light. Get these replaced as soon as possible, as you don’t want to run into a situation where you need to jump-start your car.

We Can Help!
If your check engine light is on now, book a service appointment at Mississauga Kia or speak directly with one of our service professionals by calling us.
We’ll help you determine why your check engine light could be on, and we can easily book you in for a service to have your code read and cleared so it won’t bother you again! Our dealership is just a short drive from Oakville, Brampton, Milton, and anywhere in the Greater Toronto Area.

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