What do you do when the check engine light comes on in your car? Many people calling into our shop asking about the check engine light on their car explain that they have already checked the engine oil and the engine coolant, and the fluid levels are okay; So why is that light on, and can damage be done to the car if it is driven with the light on? The short answer is, it depends. Let me explain.
The check engine light is designed to come on whenever the vehicle’s emissions levels have exceeded 1.5 times the Federal Test Procedure (FTP). The FTP is a series of emissions tests that the vehicle manufacturer must certify in order to show that their vehicles meet the standards set forth in the FTP. Many times when the check engine light is on, drivers remark that the car runs fine, and they will elect to not have the car looked at. This can be a problem, especially if the engine computer detects another problem that could cause the cost of operation of the car to increase and/or result in costlier repairs. The issue is the light is already on for a problem that the driver elects not to have taken care of and they won’t know that another problem exists.
So what is the most costly check engine light repair? On average it would be a failure of the catalytic converter. According to a study of repairs performed in 2014 by CarMD , the average cost to replace catalytic converters was $1157.27. If your check engine light flashes while you are driving, pull over as soon as you are safely able to, and have your car towed in. The catalytic converter can be damaged in as little as 5 minutes when the check engine light is flashing. A $100.00 tow bill is cheaper than replacing a catalytic converter.