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It’s the yellow warning light no driver wants to see. It can come on when you least expect it because your car seems to be running just fine. Let’s talk about the Check Engine Light (CEL). What triggered it? How long can you drive with the Check Engine Light on?
So, what’s up? There’s no single answer to that question. Something minor may have triggered it, like a loose gas cap, or something more serious, like an engine misfire. But here’s the important thing: when you see it, don’t panic. The Check Engine Light doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pull over to the side of the road and call a tow truck.
The Check Engine Light meaning can depend on whether the light is constantly illuminated or blinking.
Great question! Drivers often confuse dashboard indicator names. In cars manufactured from 1996 to present day, the Check Engine Light is more correctly referred to as the Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL). If the MIL is illuminated, take the same steps outlined above: If the light is steady, get to a mechanic as soon as you can; if the light is flashing, have it taken care of immediately.
Remember, if the MIL is flashing, you should reduce power and get to a mechanic right away. The blinking check engine light meaning could be an engine misfire so severe that:
But what if the light is shining steadily and you don’t notice any change in your car’s performance? Your vehicle still has a problem, just not one that demands immediate attention. So please don’t wait until your next scheduled tune-up to have it checked out. Make an appointment as soon as you can to avoid issues like:
Let’s say you noticed the engine warning light on Thursday. It’s steady, not flashing, and you plan to bring your car into Jiffy Lube on Saturday. Is there anything you can do to mitigate engine damage in the meantime? Try these three steps:
The CEL/MIL Is Part of Your Car’s Onboard Diagnostics System.
Since the late 1970s, computers increasingly have controlled and monitored vehicle performance, regulating variables such as:
When a problem is detected in the electronic-control system that it can’t correct, a computer turns on the yellow warning CEL/MIL. In addition to illuminating the light, the computer stores a Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) in its memory. The DTC identifies the source of the problem and can be read with an electronic scan tool or a diagnostic computer.
When you bring your car to Jiffy Lube because the CEL/MIL is on, one of the first things the technician will do is use a scanner to read the DTC generated by the light. You’ll receive a written description of the results. This is when you are welcome to ask the Jiffy Lube technician any questions you may have.
Count on conversation when you come to Jiffy Lube. Expect to be asked about your driving habits — like whether you drive in extreme temperatures or at prolonged high speeds. Based on your answers, and the manufacturer recommendations for your specific vehicle, the Jiffy Lube technician will be able to perform the services that can help keep your car, SUV, minivan, or truck out of the shop and on the road, where it belongs.
Intrigued by diagnostic tests? Here’s an article about the Jiffy Lube Engine Diagnostics.
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Please note: Not all services are offered at each Jiffy Lube location. Please check with your local Jiffy Lube service center or visit jiffylube.com for specific services offered.