Some of your vehicle’s dashboard warning lights are self-explanatory. You might see “Change Engine Oil” or a battery icon, for instance. What about the most common one, though? The “Check Engine Light” can mean about a dozen different things. Get to your auto repair shop for OBD-II diagnostics for the engine light to make it go away and prevent serious damage.

You might also see a dashboard light for overheating, transmission problems, or simply a “Service Vehicle Soon” warning as a catch-all for problems detected by the car’s computer.

Before you think about ignoring the light or jumping to conclusions, have a mechanic inspect and repair the vehicle as needed. If you’re wondering what a check engine light means, you need to find an honest mechanic with good reviews to help. At least ask Siri or Alexa to “find an auto repair shop in Sonoma County” so you can start researching your options.

What to Do When the Check Engine Light Comes On

Engine Light Although the check engine light might surprise or scare you, it’s usually something that you can resolve within a few days. You do not need to stop the vehicle and get a tow immediately (unless you also have blinking dashboard lights telling you to stop).

Do take dashboard engine lights seriously, though. The light usually comes on due to emissions problems, which could indicate that gasoline is spilling into places it shouldn’t be. You might need a new catalytic converter, oxygen sensor, or spark plugs.

It’s often said that the check engine light just means the gas cap isn’t tight enough. Many cars have separate gas cap warning lights, though. Be safe and make an appointment with a trusted local auto shop to run diagnostics to fix the exact issue and clear the light.

Engine Temperature Warning

Thankfully, your vehicle’s computer system can sense an overheated engine—before sparks fly and smoke billows out. Some dashboards simply say “TEMP.” Others have an engine light or a gear symbol with a thermometer inside of it.

A temperature warning light happens when you have low coolant or antifreeze or a leak. A broken serpentine belt or other damage could also be to blame.

Avoid driving more than you have to before getting this engine light checked out. If you must, do not use the air conditioner and run the heater to draw excess heat from the engine.

Engine Light with Down Arrow

Some automakers display a separate engine light with a downward arrow to indicate a loss of power. You might notice poor acceleration while it’s on. Turn off the car for a few minutes and restart to see if it goes away. If not, you’ll need diagnostics to find an electrical issue.

Make Your Engine Light Go Away—the Right Way

Getting an OBD-II code for an engine light is only the first step. The code merely tells you what went wrong, not why!

All Around Auto Repair offers honest advice and knowledgeable service for check engine light repairs and other auto maintenance. Contact us or call 707.837.0646 to schedule an appointment as soon as today.