What is an engine management light?

What do you do when your engine light blinks at you? What you don’t do is panic. You can guarantee this will come on when you least expect it to. Turn it off by following these simple steps.

What is your engine management light?

If your dreaded engine light comes on, this means there might be a problem under your bonnet. It’s usually an amber coloured light, located behind your steering wheel. You’re most likely to see this when you turn your ignition on as all of your dashboard lights will also pop up, switching off again once your car starts up.

This light is connected to your car’s engine control unit (ECU) so if you see it, this is usually your first sign that something isn’t quite right with your engine’s electrical brain. Your ECU is like the life and soul of the party when it comes to your vehicle’s engine. It controls a whole range of things, from your fuel and air mixture to your ignition timing, helping your overall engine run smoothly. You would be completely lost without it.

Is it safe to drive with your engine light on?

If it’s just your engine light that’s popped on, unless there's anything else that you notice that could be wrong with your car, you should be ok to continue your travels until you reach your destination.

When you get there, that’s when you should check over your vehicle and get an expert if needs be. The worse thing you can do is leave it or ignore it as this is when you’re at risk of causing further damage.

Let's say you did notice other issues. Maybe the engine light is red and not amber, or the engine light is flashing. This could mean that you’ve got a more serious problem going on which could be bigger than you first thought.

If this happens, you should:

  • Pullover when you can and its safe to do so
  • Turn your engine off
  • Call your breakdown cover so they can help you with your problem

How can you turn the engine light off?

You’d think it would be with the switch of a button. If only it was that simple. Thanks to our vehicles being much more sophisticated now compared to how they were back in the day, these days you’re probably going to need to take your car to a repair specialist who can diagnose the issue for you and reset your engine light.

You could attempt to try and fix it yourself if you have the diagnostic readers. Prices can vary for these depending on the brand and what they’re capable of. If you are wanting an accurate diagnostic, then it might be worth paying more for it just to make sure that you’re not missing anything so you resolve the issue correctly.

Once the problem with your vehicle has been found and fixed, your ECU will need resetting so that the engine light can finally disappear. If for some reason, you found that the light didn’t go off or it came again too soon after, you might still have some problems with your car.

That’s probably not what you want to hear, but it might be the case. If so, you might just need a second reset to get rid of it again. The main thing is to get to the bottom of what’s causing the light to come on. If you’ve got a really good dealer, you might find that they want to go a bit further and give your vehicle a little software update to see if that does the trick. Remember, the engine light doesn’t come on for no reason.

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