Mechanical Guide

What does Your Car’s Service Engine Soon Light Indicate?

How to switch off the check engine light?

Car’s service engine soon light is a signal that there is some problem in your car. That’s why you always get worried when your car’s service engine soon light turns on. Though the reason behind might be a hitch (gas cap problem) or malady (misfiring engine). However, you have to move your car to a mechanic and get it repaired.

A more formal term for the service engine soon light is “malfunction indicator light” because the car’s engine computer indicates you through check engine light.

Before the 90s different systems were used by carmakers to identify problems. A new system was introduced in the vehicles of the 1996 model. This system is known as OBD-II. OBD-II is a standardized system that provides different diagnostic codes. It stated that information regarding all parts of the car can be retrieved by the help of a universal car connector. The connector should be easy to access, that’s why it is mostly placed beneath the steering shaft.

The malfunction indicator light illuminates steady or flashing. A flashing MIL indicates some serious issue in your car that most often is a misfiring engine. A misfiring engine increases the likelihood of an accidental fire occurring by increasing the temperature of the catalytic converter. The color of the light depends on the carmaker. It is in yellow, amber or orange color, mostly.

Decoding the Diagnostic Trouble Codes

Maintenance required light illuminates to indicate that your car needs a routine care. For example, oil change. Unlike the service engine soon light, it does not signal a problem in your car. You may confound it with the service engine soon light but both are different from each other.

Code readers are available online and at auto parts stores. They are usually inexpensive. Car mechanics are very expensive. They charge about $78 for decoding. You can identify the problem yourself, by decoding through code readers. Simply connect the code reader to OBD (onboard diagnostics) with the help of an OBD port. Codes display in your mobile phone through Bluetooth technology. You can search for the meaning of codes on the internet.

How to Switch off Service Engine Soon Light?

The service engine soon light can be turned off by using code readers. but this is not a way to clear the issue. Light illuminates again unless you solve the causative issue.

Mixed View about Engine Code Readers:

The Director of an American online resource for automotive information writes that decoding by oneself is somehow difficult. You can know the meaning of the code but you may not diagnose the problem behind accurately.

He shares his own experience. He was decoding through code reader for his wife’s car. He interpreted that the car might need a new crank angle sensor. But actually there were mice under the hood. Mice chomped the wires. Instead of buying a crank angle sensor and replacing it by himself, he saved his money and time by visiting a professional.

Why Service Engine Soon Light Illuminates?

An automotive engineer told that, in rare cases, the service engine soon light does not indicate any problem. It may illuminate due to other factors such as humidity and turn off itself shortly.

Here is the list of ten common diagnostic trouble codes. This list was published in 2018, by an automotive telematics company.  The money required to eliminate the cause is also mentioned.

  • Change the spark coil ($218.56)
  • Baggy gas cap inspection and repair ($25.98)
  • Change MAF (Mass airflow sensor) ($338.98)
  • Change spark coil and sparking plug ($390.99)
  • Change thermostat ($243.91)
  • Replace catalytic converter with OEM converter ($1,381.17)
  • Change O2 sensor ($244.14)
  • Change Purge valve ($146.52)
  • Change EVAP purge solenoid ($159.80)
  • Change fuel injector ($450.73)

Don’t Ignore Malfunction Indicating Light

It is crucial to quickly diagnose the problem indicated by malfunction indicating light. Otherwise, it can lead to a major problem and it can be heavier in your pocket. The automotive engineer said that some car drivers did not take it seriously. They simply hide the light with a paper or tape and keep going on without a check. This can be hazardous.

It is better to check the gas cap first when the service engine soon light turns on. Automotive engineers say that a baggy gas cap can be a reason for the light. A baggy gas cap causes a hole in the vapor recovery system. The vapor recovery system is part of the emission system of the car. It communicates this problem to the car’s computer, tuning the service engine soon light on. If you find that the gas cap is baggy simply screw it up, then the light will turn off after a while automatically.

A question that arises here is:

What to do when the steady light illuminates?

Obviously you need to visit a mechanic to get your car diagnosed and repaired, instantly.

Most people are afraid of expensive car repair. That’s why they ignore the alarming light. They keep driving as long as possible. To deal with the drivers who ignore the service engine soon light, vehicle inspection by the state is helpful. The malfunction indicator light should be off in order to clear the state’s vehicle inspection. This is to ensure the proper functioning of the car’s emissions system. The car emission system is an indicator of the overall efficiency of the engine.

Engine Code Reader is Good Backup Plan

Check engine code reader can be beneficial for car owners, according to automotive engineers, as they are inexpensive and they assure you that mechanic is doing right when mechanic gives you the same information as code reader did.

The online resource also supports this point of automotive engineers. According to that, engine code readers can help car owners in discussions with a mechanic about the problem. Also, this can prevent extra parts repair and extra cost.



saeed rana

I was the executive vice president of the General Insurance Company. With that I also mentor students to help them find and apply for international scholarships each year, Due to extensive practice in vehicle insurance, their claims, and all sorts of interest in vehicles; today it became my passion to write research articles on vehicles.

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