The Most Common Reasons Behind A Check Engine Light in 2017


We’ve all experienced the moment when our check engine light comes on. For some, it may be a moment of fear and concern, as it signals something is not right with the vehicle. Many others, however, shrug off the check engine light until it’s time for the vehicle to be inspected.


The latter scenario is not the driver you want to be, as the purpose of a check engine light is to communicate an issue with you — an issue that can lead to added costs at the gas pump and potential mechanical problems farther down the road.


Car Care Council Executive Director Rich White said in a May blog post that people often ignore the light in fear of extensive costs.


“Many people fear that when the check engine light comes on, it is going to mean several hundred or more dollars in repairs, so they ignore the light and hope the problem goes away,” he said.


In their 2018 Vehicle Health Index, CarMD outlined that ignoring a check engine light can lead to increased CO2 and gas consumption, which can negatively affect the environment and the vehicle’s fuel efficiency.


“The check engine light comes on when a vehicle’s computer sees a problem that affects emissions or drivetrain issues,” CarMD’s index reads. If ignored, it will hurt the environment, the car’s fuel economy and lead to more problems down the road.


CarMD’s Vehicle Health Index also provided the most common reasons behind check engine lights in 2017:


  1. Replace Oxygen Sensors

  2. Replace Ignition Coils and Spark Plugs

  3. Replace Catalytic Converters with OE Catalytic Converters

  4. Loose Gas Cap

  5. Replace Evaporative Emissions Purge Control Valve

  6. Replace Mass Air Flow Sensor

  7. Replace Ignition Coils

  8. Replace Evaporative Emissions Purge Solenoid

  9. Replace Fuel Injectors

  10. Replace Thermostat


Eight of the 10 reasons on CarMD’s list, on average, cost under $400 each, with only two reasons landing over $400 in average repair costs. The replacement of fuel injectors costed an average of $447.03 in 2017, while the replacement of catalytic converters cost approximately $1,271.01, per CarMD’s index. In total, the average cost of repairs in 2017 was $357, with average repair costs in the U.S. down 10 percent from 2016.


White concluded that addressing problems related to the check engine light early can help both improve the vehicle’s fuel economy and reduces the chances of increased repair costs in the future.


“Following a recommended maintenance schedule and addressing small problems before they become bigger ones will help extend the life of your car and minimize check engine related repairs,” he said. “It’s important to note that most of the common check engine problems negatively impact a car’s fuel economy and become more costly to repair if service is delayed.”


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