Your Car’s Check Engine Light And Why It’s Important

The “check engine” light is there to help warn drivers of a problem with their car’s engine and other related systems…

A few facts:

  • In 1969, Volkswagen introduced the first on-board computer system with scanning capability in its fuel-injected Type 3 models.
  • 82% of U.S. adults who own or lease a vehicle are more focused on extending the life of their current vehicle than they have been with past vehicles, according to 2010 CarMD / Harris Interactive survey.
  • Top reasons adult car owners have put off repairs include: lack of money (65%), lack of time (34%), didn’t think it was serious (28%) and afraid to find out what the problem was (12%).
  • 80% of vehicles are in need of service or repairs right now; more than 9 million U.S. drivers alone have ignored their car’s “check engine” light for three months or more.
  • The #1 reason for “check engine” problems is a faulty oxygen (O2) sensor, which can reduce your gas mileage by as much as 40%.
  • You will not pass a state emissions test if you have a “check engine” light on.

Why Is It There?

Check engine light technology is found on all vehicles manufactured for use in the U.S. since 1996 and Canada since 1998 because of government mandates to lower emissions. Often called on board diagnostics, second generation (OBD2 or OBD-II), the check engine light is part of a sophisticated program in your vehicle’s on-board computer that is constantly checking information from engine to transmission sensors to look for emissions-related problems. It’s found on more than 220 million vehicles in North America, and covers about 80% of the systems on most cars, light trucks, SUVs and minivans.

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