The check engine light malfunction indicator is formerly known as check engine light
to most mechanics and service departments.What it means is the on board computer
in your vehicle has stored a code that relates to a malfunction of a sensor on your engine or transmission.
On all engines today you should not ignore this light.The check engine light is your first sign of possible major mechanical trouble.For instance a hard code of po300 stored in computer would be multiple cylinder misfire and you would notice hesitation or shaking of your vehicle due to cylinders not firing.
To get codes that are stored in on board vehicles computer, a diagnostic scanner is used.You
can visit some parts stores and they will read the codes stored for free. A diagnostic scanner can turn the check engine light off, but in some instances it will not stay off until problems indicated are repaired.
Many older model vehicles have the check engine light codes that can be accessed through blinking lights on dash, but you will need a manual of the particular vehicle to read the codes stored.It would be like reading morse code.
Many of the codes can be related to many different things that can set the code.An instance of a code po172 would be system too rich on bank number two.Many things can cause the engine to run too rich.
A defective exhaust recirculation valve can cause this code to appear.Many of the codes stored in a check engine light sequence are universal codes for many different makes and models of vehicles. Not all codes stored in your vehicles computer lead to spending money on repairs.Something as simple as changing out a battery can set a code that indicates power loss has happened.If this happens a code scanner can turn the indicator light off.
Many people who like to do their own repairs purchase code scanners and are left confused by the meaning of the codes that the scanner scans.A knowledge of how an engine works and what mechanical things are involved lead to the problem being solved.
Many times you will not notice any difference in the running of your vehicle when the check engine light malfunction indicator comes on.It is always better to get the codes checked out sooner than later due to your vehicle stopping on you in the worse possible time.
There are many sources on the internet to access code definitions that you get through use of a hand held scanner.Many places on the internet will answer most any automotive question pertaining to the check engine codes.Proper servicing of your vehicle at the required mileage intervals will prevent many codes from appearing in your vehicles computer.
If your vehicle is still under dealer warranty and the check engine light comes on, immediately have their service department check the diagnostics on the computer of your vehicle.