Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: What does it mean if the Malfunction Indicator lamp/Check Engine Light comes on?

asked by on

What does it mean if the Malfunction Indicator lamp/Check Engine Light comes on?

A: If the Malfunction Indicator Lamp/Check Eng...

If the Malfunction Indicator Lamp/Check Engine Light comes on, this could be an indication of several things. Many of which will differ depending on the make and model of the vehicle and the manufacturer’s specifications. The purpose of this warning light is to alert the driver of a problem within the engine or transmission, or to signal that scheduled maintenance is necessary for the vehicle. There are several indicator lights on the dashboard intended to communicate to the driver that attention to a particular area is required. Some of those indicator lights include:

  • Coolant Temperature Warning Indicator Light
  • Transmission Temperature Warning Indicator Light
  • Oil Pressure Warning Indicator Light
  • Battery/Charging System Warning Indicator Light
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Warning Indicator Light
  • Brake System Warning Indicator Light
  • Reduced Power Warning Indicator Light
  • Service Engine Soon Warning Indicator Light

The Malfunction Indicator Lamp/Check Engine Light most often is an indication that there has been a major engine or transmission malfunction and a diagnostic trouble code has been stored by the Powertrain Control Module (PCM). The diagnostic trouble code is used by certified technicians to pinpoint the problem and problem area in order to properly and efficiently make necessary repairs. The Malfunction Indicator/Check Engine Light should not be ignored and should be addressed as soon as possible. While some diagnostic trouble codes indicate a more serious issue than others, it is possible that a less serious issue will worsen or cause damage to other engine components if they are unaddressed for an extended period of time.

If the Malfunction Indicator Lamp/Check Engine Light is on in your dashboard, make an appointment with a certified technician to have it diagnosed and repaired.

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!

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: my 2012 ford fusion today the wrench sysbol came on saying throttle control/transmission fault detected why?

Hello Mr. Donald, thank you for writing in. The wrench is another form of a check engine light. When the computer detects there is something wrong (as it is constantly running tests) it will set a "diagnostic troubleshooting code" that...

Q: What does the Malfunction Indicator Lamp or Check Engine light mean on?

There are several warning indicator lights on the vehicle dashboard. The purpose of these lights are to alert drivers of an engine or transmission malfunction/error, or that attention to a specific component is necessary. There are numerous other warning...

Q: My car started shaking really bad.

Shaking or vibrating may be caused by many different things such as faulty spark plugs, poor fuel pressure or misfires. Other things such as a faulty idle air control valve may cause the engine idle to drop below the normal...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...
P2103 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle Actuator Control Motor Circuit High
P2103 means there is a fault with the throttle actuator control motor circuit, likely due to a defective electrical component or part.