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

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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 indicator lights, and not all will be present on all vehicles. Vehicle manufacturers determine which dashboard warning indicator lights are used for each vehicle make and model they produce. Some will alert the driver that fluid levels are low, others will alert the driver that it is time for scheduled maintenance. There are many indicator lights and the following are some that may be present on the dashboard:

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

The primary purpose of the Malfunction Indicator Lamp or Check Engine Light is to let the driver know that a diagnostic trouble code has been stored by the Powertrain Control Module (PCM). Diagnostic trouble codes are stored by the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) when a malfunction/error has occurred in the engine or transmission. These codes will specify which engine component is defective and are then used by certified technicians to pinpoint what engine component needs repair or replacement.

If the Malfunction Indicator Lamp or Check Engine Light comes on in the dashboard, it should be addressed immediately and taken to a certified technician for diagnosis and repair.

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