What Does My Check Engine Light Mean?

June 10th, 2016 by

Engine Photo

What Does My Check Engine Light Mean?

You’ve been driving your Toyota for some time now and are familiar with all its functions. You know what each button and switch does (you might still press more than one before getting it right) and you know how your vehicle acts while you drive. Still, there’s one little indicator on your dashboard that can strike fear into your heart whenever you see it — the Check Engine light.

It’s technically known as a malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) but that doesn’t make you feel better. When the little amber light comes on, shaped roughly like an engine, you immediately question your vehicle’s reliability.

What You Should Do

When your Check Engine light comes on, the first thing you should do is take note of the light’s behavior. If the light is flashing, that’s a critical concern. It’s best to shut your vehicle down and have it towed to the Toyota dealer. Fortunately, that’s quite uncommon. What usually happens is the light comes on solid. If that happens, you should still bring it into your Toyota dealer’s service department although your urgency is much less substantial.

Check a couple common issues:

  • Is your gas cap loose?
  • Is your engine running smoothly?
  • Are there any strange smells?
  • Did you drive through a large puddle?

If it’s a minor issue, the Check Engine light just might go off on its own if the problem clears up.

What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?

It’s a malfunction indicator. That means that anytime a problem is detected by your powertrain control module (PCM) it will record a diagnostic trouble code in the computer. If the problem warrants it, the PCM turns on the Check Engine light so you know there’s an issue that needs to be addressed by your Toyota dealer. The problem could be:

  • A defect in the emissions system
  • A fuel delivery problem or fuel leak
  • An engine misfire causing a rough run
  • A transmission shifting concern
  • An air supply issue
  • Any number of electrical sensors defective
  • Or something else!

While your vehicle may seem to operate normally, if the Check Engine light is on there is a need to have it checked.

Toyota of West County is the top choice for Toyota diagnostics in St. Louis County. We have specialized Toyota equipment and factory trained specialists to determine the cause of your Check Engine light and correct it quickly and efficiently. At Toyota of West County, we’ll get you back on the road in no time!

Posted in Maintenance, Service, Toyota