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

asked by on

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.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1,000 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
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. What does the Malfunction Indicator Lamp or Check Engine light mean on?

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: Why would I still have a check engine light after my camshaft and crankshaft sensors were replaced 2008 Kia Sedona

If you are continuing to get the same codes after these sensors were replaced then you more than likely have a worn out timing belt. When the belt is worn then the sensors will not read correctly. If you want...

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

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...

Q: My car won't start and the check engine light and check oil lights are on

The clicking sound can occur when there is not enough battery power getting to the starter to crank the engine. If the cables were corroded, then the battery may be sulfated and need to be replaced. A simple battery check...

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...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
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.