Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: EML light on and caution light with arrow around came on the car, what should I do?

asked by on

I was driving normally, then suddenly the EML light and caution light came on the dashboard. What does it mean?

The warning lights mean that the vehicle’s computer has detected a fault in the engine management system and/or engine controls which includes a lot of sensors and other devices. If the vehicle has not entered "limp mode" (reduced performance), is NOT actively misfiring, and otherwise appears to be functioning normally (no overheating, stalling, strange noises, etc.), you can usually operate the vehicle safely until your first opportunity to get it diagnosed. Obviously, do not operate the car indefinitely with the EML light on and, in particular, if the car is misfiring do not operate it at all because such will destroy the catalytic converter.

The particular fault, causing the EML to illuminate, would be unknown (there are literally thousands of fault codes in these computerized engine management systems but maybe hundreds are "commonly" experienced) until a Mechanic uses an appropriate scan tool to download and decipher the fault code(s). Once the codes are read, the components, sensors, parts, systems or wiring that are referred to, or identified, in the fault code(s) MUST be individually tested or diagnosed. The key thing to understand is the fault codes DO NOT, and cannot, conclusively identify failed parts, so you should not let anyone replace parts on the basis of fault codes unless and until the part slated for replacement is TESTED to see if there is actually anything wrong with it. So, if you take the car to a garage and they say they are going to replace part "x" because the fault code "says so", ask them if they actually tested the part and further, on the basis of that testing, were they able to reasonably condemn it. And, then, if they do replace a part, be sure you take the old part with you just in case their repair does not resolve the issue (by keeping the old part you obviously preserve the possibility of later testing it yourself, if you end up with a failed diagnostic). The thing to do in a circumstance like this is get a competent diagnosis so that time and money is not wasted randomly changing out parts on the basis of guesses as to why the fault code(s) was set by the computer. If you want a competent, professional Diagnostic which will get to the root issue, feel free to set up a mobile visit with YourMechanic. If you have other technical concerns or questions, by all means feel free to re-contact us. Best wishes with this..if you ask lots of questions you will get the issue identified and resolved to your satisfaction.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!
  • Home
  • Questions
  • EML light on and caution light with arrow around came on the car, what should I do?

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Loss of power and misfiring in 2000 BMW 323CI

The first thing you want to check is on the driver's side, the intake manifold and all the plastic there is between the radiator and the engine. You may barely even see them without a flashlight and a little mirror....

Q: Fuel promblem

You may have excessive dirt inside the tank that has clogged the fuel filter to the point that the dirt has gotten into the injectors, causing the misfire. Remove the fuel filter and blow through it to see...

Q: Front right blinker not working

Based on the lack of history, you most likely have a bad bulb or a corroded electrical socket connected to the bulb. A visual inspection of the contacts within the socket will determine the issue. In some rare cases, the...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
How Much Does a Mechanic Make in Vermont?
Automotive technician jobs in Vermont have an average mechanic salary of $37k, with some mechanics earning a salary of $53k.