How to Check My Dashboard Lights for Errors

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, a dashboard lights warning is a driver’s worst nightmare. First of all, it just pops on. No explanation whatsoever. And can it get any worse if you are in the middle of the highway?

For the first time, it dawns you that you are clueless. Not good.

What are you supposed to do? Pull over? Keep driving? Or scream your frustration out (doesn’t help much).

Just hang on…

Before you take out your mobile phone and start dialing your mechanic to schedule an appointment, ask yourself this question: do I really have to make that trip to the repair shop?

The truth is sometimes, you can fix the issue by yourself.

Surprised? Here’s the kicker: GOFAR can diagnose over 300 common car issues and explain them in plain English. Once you know the car fault, you can easily fix some of the common car issues.

Excited to learn a DIY fix and avoid unnecessary garage expenses? Let’s get started!

Before we get things underway, we’d like to clarify that some car issues should be handled by a professional. Therefore, if your car is smoking or stalls you may need to seek a professional diagnosis of the issue.

Always confirm beforehand whether the repair shop has the capacity to handle your car make and model. Some car models require sophisticated computers that are only available in larger auto shops.

Now let’s get back to what we were saying. Here are the common check engine light issues that you can fix easily.Ready?

Related: Car Warning Lights Resource Centre

Replace Mass Airflow Sensor

A mass air flow sensor measures incoming air to the engine and establishes a stoichiometric ratio. Then, it communicates that amount to the computer for it to add the right fuel ratio.

A faulty MAF may cause your car to stall, release harmful emissions into the air, and even consume more fuel.

What causes MAF failure: To prevent MAF failure, replace the air filter on a regular basis – at least once a year. Also, ensure that the MAF is properly installed otherwise, it will fail.

What you should do: This isn’t an emergency. You can keep driving for a couple of weeks despite having a faulty MAF. But remember, your mileage will be suffering, and you may stall in the middle of nowhere! Therefore, to save yourself the trouble, just replace it.

You can replace the MAF yourself or have a mechanic do it. Despite it being a simple process, you may need to leave the mechanic to handle the issue, just in case it gets complicated.

Next, watch the video below for more on the mass air flow sensor.

Loose/Faulty Gas Cap

It’s likely you’ll shrug off the thought that a faulty fuel cap can actually cause the check engine light to come on.

Spoiler alert – it actually does! Here’s how:

A cracked or loose fuel caplets out fuel vapours. The leaking destabilises the entire fuel system which leads to poor fuel efficiency and release of more harmful emissions.

Causes of faulty gas cap: An error code indicating the gas cap as an issue means there’s leakage of fuel vapours. Most likely, the cap is cracked or wasn’t tightened as it should be.

What you should do: If you are able to drive smoothly after the check engine comes on; no jerking or anything strange, then firstly you need to check the fuel cap.

Pull over and have a good look at the fuel cap. Ensure that it is not cracked. Also check whether it is properly tightened. If you need to buy a new one, your nearest auto parts store will be the best place to stop by.

After fixing the issue, you may have to drive for about 50-100 miles before the check engine light goes off. Don’t ignore a faulty fuel cap issue because you’ll end up spending more money at the gas pump.

Here’s an eye-opening video about your car’s fuel cap issue. Take a look.

Replace Oxygen Sensor

An oxygen sensor checks and controls the amount of unburnt oxygen leaving the exhaust. When the oxygen sensor is faulty, it needs to be replaced because it can no longer monitor the amount of fuel being burned.

Consequently, you’ll notice a decrease in mileage since the faulty sensor is feeding the computer with false data.

Most cars have around two to four oxygen sensors. Luckily, with a code scanner you can tell exactly which one of the oxygen sensors is faulty and needs a replacement.

Cause for bad oxygen sensor: With continued use, the sensor gets clogged with oil and other debris. This negatively impacts its ability to control the oxygen and fuel mixture. The results are decreased fuel efficiency and higher levels of emissions.

What you should do: Ignoring a faulty oxygen sensor can ultimately lead to damage of expensive parts such as the catalytic converter.

On the other hand, the process of replacing a faulty oxygen sensor is straightforward. It is even explained in detail in the owner’s manual. (Always keep your owner’s manual safe)

To replace the O2 sensor, just unclip the faulty sensor and replace it with the new one. Sounds too easy? Watch the video below to believe it.

Change the Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter converts harmful carbon monoxide gases among other harmful exhaust gases into less harmful and environment-friendly compounds.

A failing catalytic converter will cause your vehicle to consume more fuel. Another indicator of a faulty catalytic converter is slow acceleration. Even if you push the accelerator to the maximum the car never picks momentum.

Causes of a faulty catalytic converter: How often do you adhere to the schedules of a regular car maintenance? Beware that failure to keep up with this maintenance can lead to malfunctioning of your catalytic converter.

Also, other issues listed on this list such as bad oxygen sensors or faulty spark plugs (we’ll tackle them next) can cause the catalytic converter to fail.

Once it has failed, harmful emissions are released into the environment. Carbon monoxide is longer being converted into less harmful compounds. And that means your car is no longer eco-friendly.

What you should do: A completely failed catalytic converter means your car can’t keep running. Otherwise, you risk further damage. Moreover, you’ll be spending more dollars at the fuel pump.

Therefore, take this as a serious issue that must be addressed immediately.

Fixing a catalytic converter requires expertise. Don’t attempt to DIY unless you have hands-on experience.
Here’s an interesting must watch video on the science of the catalytic converter. Check it out.

Bad Spark Plugs and Wires

Spark plugs seal the engine’s combustion chamber. Also, they create a gap in which sparks travel across to ignite the combustion part of the engine. If the plugs fail, the engine misfires. You can tell it is a misfire if the car suddenly jolts when you accelerate.

What causes spark plugs and wires to fail?

Ideally, you should replace your spark plugs after every 50,0000 kilometres. However, they can fail before then. The good thing is they are relatively affordable and quick to fix.

What you should do: Get the spark plugs/wires changed immediately. Notably, your car will run better afterwards. If you are a DIY enthusiast, then this is your time to shine.

Go to your nearest auto store and purchase the spark plugs/wires. Then watch this video for the simple steps you need to follow. Remember, the spark plugs and wires are located at the bonnet of your car.

How to check car warning lights: What’s next?

Not sure what the engine warning light is telling you? GOFAR provides a reliable and safe solution.

Install GOFAR in your car in minutes without tools or technical skills to receive plain English error codes on over 300 common issues with your car.

You can check whether your car is compatible or learn more about understanding your dashboard symbols and car warning lights on the spot.

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