My Check Engine Light is On – What Should I Do?


Hi, my name is Doug Dixon. I’m the shop foreman here at Gateway Toyota in Edmonton, Alberta.

One of the things I love about my job is the legendary quality and reliability the Toyota brand has been able to offer its customers throughout the years.

I’m fortunate to have been in this business long enough to have seen very simple vehicles that used breaker point ignition and carburetors, to today’s sophisticated vehicles that use multiple computers or processors to control everything from the engine, brakes, stability control, steering, and everything in between.

Today’s vehicles even have the ability to learn our driving habits and automatically compensate for normal wear and tear. Toyota engineers have built in a very sophisticated monitoring system that is constantly on the watch for any potential problems. It operates seamlessly in the back ground while you get to concentrate on the road.

In the unlikely event that your computer does see a problem, your car has been equipped with a simple, but effective warning system: The check engine lamp.

It is an amber or orange lamp in your instrument panel that usually resembles an engine. It can always be seen momentarily when you first start your vehicle. This is basically a valve check to let you know that your watchdog is on duty while you drive.

If this lamp ever were to come on, it simply means that one of the computer monitor systems sees a potential problem. In 95 percent of these cases, it is usually the fuel cap that has not been installed tight enough after a recent fill up.

On older vehicles, normal fuel vapours created from things such as temperature and agitation were allowed to escape into the atmosphere.

By law, all manufacturers now must not only contain these vapours and neutralize them, but they must constantly monitor them as well.

A good rule of thumb is that if no red lights, such as the brake warning, coolant temperature, or oil lamp are on at the same time, there’s probably an emissions related issue and the vehicle can be driven to your nearest Edmonton Certified Toyota Service Center.

When in doubt, give us a call, or come on in. We’ll are here for you.


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