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Video:Quick Tip: What Does the Check Engine Light on Your Dashboard Mean?

with Tony Louis

The check engine light on your dashboard may mean that something is seriously wrong with your car. This About.com video offers some guidance on what the check engine light in your car means.See Transcript

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Transcript:Quick Tip: What Does the Check Engine Light on Your Dashboard Mean?

Hi, I'm Tony Louis for About.com and we're going to discuss the "check engine" light on the dashboard of most modern vehicles.

Unlike other lights on your dash, which are very specific, the "check engine" light is very, very general. It can react to anything from a loose gas cap to emission control malfunctions.

Check Gas Cap if Light is Lit

When you turn your ignition to the on position, just before start, this light will go on. It usually looks like the outline of an engine. If this light should become lit during driving the first thing to do is pull over check to make sure your gas cap is on good and tight.

Have a Mechanic Look at Check Engine Light

If the "engine" light is lit and the car sounds or reacts strangely in any way, take it to an authorized mechanic immediately. However, if the car is functioning normally and you don't hear any strange sounds or feel any strange rattles and the light stays lit for over a week, you should go to an authorized mechanic and have it checked out.

Most modern vehicles have a terminal where your mechanic can actually plug in a computer type device and it will read out all the reasons that your check engine light is on. Sometimes it may only require the mechanic to reset the light.

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