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Do you have to stop driving if your check engine light comes on?

There’s nothing worse than finally driving home after a long day and seeing your engine light come on. Depending on where you are and who you’re with at the time, it can be frustrating and scary. Plus, you may not know whether you can continue driving.

If your engine light, or malfunction indicator lamp, appears, it’s because your car’s computer is letting you know there’s a problem. The kind of mechanical issue you have will remain unidentified until you pull codes. But considering the possibilities, you may want to pull over and stop if you’re in a place where you can safely do so.

Common reasons why your engine light might come on

While they cannot fix the problem for you, some auto parts stores may be willing to pull codes for you to give you an idea of what’s going on. And even though you may be able to get your engine light to turn off, that doesn’t mean the problem is solved.

In 2018, the most common issues associated with engine lights include:

  • Oxygen sensors
  • Spark plugs
  • Ignition coils
  • Catalytic converters
  • Emissions purge control valve
  • Fuel injectors

While many of these repairs could cost you hundreds of dollars, sometimes your light could come on because your gas cap isn’t on tight. However, other times there are serious problems at hand.

Why do auto manufacturers recall vehicles?

Often, an engine light indicates a serious problem which might be part of a recall. Vehicle recalls can relate to any variety of misfunctioning parts, some of which may seem minor.

However, in some instances, the recalls are meant to save your life. For example, roughly 250 Jeep Cherokees have been recalled because of loose mounting bolts on the front passenger seats. Before your seat moves during a crash and increases your risk of injury, you can have a dealer tighten your bolts.

If you receive notice about a recall for your vehicle, you would be wise to bring it to the dealership for repairs. But if problems continue with your vehicle, you might want to see if you can take recourse.

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