What To Do When The Service Engine Soon Light Turns On

If there is one thing that will ruin your day for sure, it is driving your car and seeing that "service engine" light come on. The light can mean several things, ranging from a gas cap that was not put on tight enough, or serious engine problems that need to be fixed immediately. Do not get stressed too quickly though, as there are several things you should do when the light comes on to tell if it is a serious problem or not:

Trouble Signs That Require Immediate Attention

When the service engine soon light comes on, start looking for trouble signs that could identify if the problem is major.

The first thing to take note of is how your car is driving. When the service engine soon light came on, was there an immediate change to how your car drives? A stuttering engine or inability to accelerate quickly are signs of engine problems that need immediate attention.

Check all of the gauges on your car's dashboard for potential problems. Is the engine overheating? Is your car's oil pressure too high? If anything is not within the normal range, pull your car off to the side of the road and read about what to do in your car's user manual. Your car may have specific instructions with how to deal with overheating.

Odd noises such as rattling or knocking are also a reason to be concerned. If you see smoke coming from the hood of your car, pull the car over and immediately leave your car.

Signs The Problem Is Not Serious

If none of those serious trouble signs are present, keep in mind that there are a few minor problems that can trigger the service engine soon light to come on. Start with your car's gas cap by making sure it is on tight. Once it is on correctly, it can take several cycles of your car turning on without an issue for the light to finally turn back off.

Next, take a look under the hood of your car, as a recent oil change could be the cause of the light coming on. Two common problems are with the dipstick and oil cap. Verify that both the dipstick is in place properly, and that the oil cap is secured tightly.

If these fixes do not cause the light to shut off, visit a local auto maintenance and repair shop. They will have equipment that can tell you what service code triggered the light, and give more insight on the potential problem.