Q: What does the Malfunction Indicator lamp on the dash mean?

asked by on December 14, 2015

What does the Malfunction Indicator lamp on the dash mean?

Whether you call it by its proper name, or refer to it as the Check Engine Light, the Malfunction Indicator lamp (MIL) is a very critical warning system. It’s designed to turn on when something goes wrong with your emissions system. It could be something as simple as leaving the gas cap loose, or it could be something more serious – a failed oxygen sensor, catalytic converter, or something else. The Malfunction Indicator lamp should come on when you crank the car, and should go out within a few seconds after conducting a self-test. If it stays on or comes on while driving, it means there’s a code in the computer that needs to be checked.

If the light comes on and stays steady, it means there’s a problem with the emissions system. However, if it comes on and blinks, it means that your engine has experienced

a misfire and you need to have it inspected as soon as possible.

Was this answer helpful?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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

How do you start the engine?

There’s more to starting your engine than just sliding into the driver seat and turning the key. While it’s not super complicated, there are a few steps that you should know. Here they are: Check that the parking brake...

Multiple warning lights on and speedometer doesn't work

Hello. It sounds like you have a bad vehicle speed sensor. The sensor fails causing the speedometer not to work, which causes these lights to come on since they need to see a speed signal. The sensor and wiring should...

I'm having problems with my blower motor on my 2012 Nissan Maxima.

There is no resistor in the circuit, at least not of the type that controls blower speed. Instead, the speed control in your vehicle relies on a digital signal delivered via pulse width modulation. And, in your application at least...

Related articles

P0268 OBD-II Trouble Code: Cylinder number 3 Injector Circuit High
P0268 P0268 code definition Cylinder number 3 Injector Circuit High What the P0268 code means P0268 is an OBD-II diagnostic trouble code that is stored when the engine control module (ECM) detects that the cylinder number 3 injector circuit has...
5 Essential Things to Know About Wildlife on the Road
According According to the Federal Highway Administration, there are currently more than 8 million lane-miles of roads throughout the US, with over 6 million of those in rural areas. One important danger of driving in rural areas is the potential...
P0349 OBD-II Trouble Code: Camshaft Position Sensor A Circuit Intermittent (Bank 2)
P0349 P0349 code definition Your vehicle’s PCM has found an improper wave form or voltage reading from the camshaft circuit A in engine bank 2. What the P0349 code means The camshaft position sensor works with the notches, or teeth,...