The check engine light: every drivers worst fear. Honestly, wouldn't you rather ANY other light turn on? Tire pressure? Turn signal? Even the brake warning light is better! The problem with the check engine light, is although there are so many reasons for it to come on, we fear the worst - which is pretty much your vehicles death sentence.
How many times have you been going along through life, hop in your car, turn on your ignition, and see that little light shine up at you? If you're like us, your initial reaction is, "NO, no, no, no, no, no!"
However, if you've been taking care of your Subaru, then there's a good chance your check engine light isn't (hopefully) a death sentence. So, what do you do? Take a few deep breaths, and remain hopeful that when you bring your Subaru to the shop to run a diagnostics test, you'll be relieved to find out the check engine light is on for one of the below reasons.
If your check engine light is on, it might be because...
Loose Gas Cap or old gas cap
To many drivers relief, this is one of the most common reasons for the check engine light. The gas cap is an important part to the fuel delivery system since it prevents gas from leaving the tank and balances out the correct pressure for the system.
If you notice your check engine light comes on after a fill up, you likely need to check to make sure the cap isn't loose. If this keeps happening, sometimes replacing the cap is needed, recommend to only use a genuine Subaru gas cap - setting you back about $24 on average.
Bad or Worn Spark Plugs, Ignition Coil, Ignition wires, individual Coils
Since the spark plug wire transfers electricity from the coil to the spark plug, it's a pretty important component when igniting the fuel and air mixture in the cylinder. If you notice your Subaru is starting to have a rough idle, lower engine performance, or lower gas mileage - the issue could be the spark plug wire. Even though this triggered the check engine light, maybe not a catastrophic costly failure.
Exhaust Gas Recirculation Valve
This system lowers the amount of nitrogen oxide that comes out of your Subaru's engine so it runs more efficiently. It directs the hot exhaust gases back into the combustion chambers to warm up the fuel for an easier burn. But the exhaust gas recirculation valve can become clogged or fail entirely, causing the check engine light to come on. You may need to have the valve cleaned out, or fully replaced, which can be done for $125 on average.
The Oxygen Sensor
The oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburnt oxygen in a car's exhaust system. It then sends data to the vehicle's computer to help regulate the ratio of air and fuel that enter into it's cylinders. When the oxygen sensor needs replaced, the car will still run, but it will be burning more fuel than usual. If left untouched, it can eventually cause damage to the sparks plugs and catalytic converter. However, this can be avoided by a $300 fix on average.
Turning the carbon monoxide generated during combustion, into carbon dioxide, the catalytic converter is a huge player in the vehicle's exhaust system. The catalytic converter has platinum and can get pretty costly, so regular maintenance quality fuel can help extend the life. However, if it does fail, you're looking to spend anywhere from $800 to $2400 for replacement, depending on the Subaru that you are driving.
You probably noticed the prices increased the more you read. But, compared to what they could be after total engine failure...there's not much room to be upset. Bottom line, stay on top of your car maintenance.
The more faithful you are with the routine maintenance, the less likely you'll have a huge problem arise. Remember, if your check engine light does come on, take a deep breath...and realize maybe you just didn't turn your gas cap quite tight enough.
Bring your Subaru in for a check up! Click here to schedule an appointment at Suburb Service, or call (206) 705-8695 to reach our Seattle location. Show your Subaru some love.