Answers to the 4 Most Frequently Asked Check Engine Light Questions

At USA Automotive, we love answering our customers auto repair and maintenance questions! We believe automotive education is an important factor in building trust and maintaining safer automobiles. One of the most mysterious car parts it seems is the check engine light. Our expert mechanics get tons of questions about this helpful little dashboard light, so we thought we’d answer the top four check engine light questions that we hear regularly.

Answers to the Top 4 Check Engine Light Questions We Hear 
Check Engine Light Raleigh NC - USA Automotive

1.  Can I drive my vehicle if the Check Engine Light is on?

If your Check Engine Light is NOT blinking you may safely drive the vehicle to your trusted auto repair shop for service, but it shouldn’t be driven much farther than that. NEVER drive if the Check Engine Light is flashing!

2.  Is the Service Vehicle Soon (or Maintenance Required) Light and the Check Engine Light the same thing?

No.  The “Service Vehicle Soon” light is a reminder from your vehicle’s computer that it’s getting close to time for an oil change or other preventative maintenance service. The “Check Engine Light” is something more serious and means that your vehicle’s computer has determined there is a problem with the vehicle. Typically, these problems are emissions related. Other times they are engine component related. Do not ignore a Check Engine Light.

3.  I had someone read the Check Engine Light codes stored in my car’s computer and it says the catalytic converter is below efficiency, why would I not replace it?

The code that is “read” (they plug a computer into your vehicle and retrieve the information that is stored) for a “Catalytic Converter below efficiency” means the converter is not working up to the original operating standards. It does NOT mean the catalytic converter is bad. A catalytic converter is designed to never go bad.  They have no moving parts that will break and no materials that wear out over time. They are affected by other vehicle systems though. If the vehicle does not take in enough air to burn fuel properly or other sensors in the vehicle are non-operational, it can result in a catalytic converter code. Both of these malfunctions will destroy the catalytic converter if not repaired.

Check Engine Light illuminated in a car's dashboard4.  Can you just turn off my check engine light for the state inspection?

The Check Engine Light is a warning light, and it comes on for a reason. The vehicle runs numerous tests every time the vehicle is driven and if it fails any of these tests it will turn the check engine light on. When the light is cleared the vehicle goes into a “Not Ready” state until the tests have run again. Once these tests run and the test fails again the light will immediately return. When the vehicle is in the “Not Ready” state, a North Carolina State Car Inspection cannot be completed until the vehicle is driven and the tests have run and the vehicle has passed all of the self tests a vehicle does. It is an issue of safety.

We hope these answers she some light on the mysterious Check Engine Light! If you ever have any questions about your car, maintenance or auto repair in general, please don’t hesitate to ask one of our talented auto repair technicians in Raleigh, NC. We’re here to help you in every way that we can!

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You Should Also Read: 

Preventative Car Maintenance Services in Raleigh, NC

7 Reasons Why Cars Need
“Preventative Maintenance” Services

Written by USA Automotive