As a motorist, you have undoubtedly experienced that jolt of fear caused when your engine warning light comes on. Immediately, visions of horrible engine damage and massive repair bills flash through your mind. Although sometimes the light indicates a big problem, usually the fix is simple and not too expensive. When the light comes on, you can take some simple steps to correct the problem. 

Check Engine Light

When your check engine light comes on, it usually indicates an emissions problem, often involving a bad oxygen sensor or even just a loose gas cap. The light could also indicate a more serious problem with your catalytic converter. If the light comes on while you are driving and stays on, you do need to have the engine checked, but it is not an emergency. If the light is blinking, however, you should slow down and see if the light becomes steady. If it continues to blink, you should stop driving the car and call your mechanic. Most often, the light indicates a malfunction in the emissions system that means you are getting poor gas mileage and emitting more pollutants than you should. 

Diagnosing the Problem

Your car's computer generates a code that tells you where the problem is. Some auto parts stores will check the code for no charge, which can save you a trip to the mechanic if the problem is minor. Another option is to purchase a code reader. These tend to be affordable and allow you to find out the code yourself. This knowledge lets you shop around for the lowest repair price. You can also order your own parts online, which can save you a substantial amount of money. 

Ignoring the Warning Light

Even if the problem is a small one, ignoring it is not a good idea. Small problems can become big ones. Once your check engine light comes on, it can no longer warn you of developing problems. The light is "stuck" on the first problem and cannot help you out with anything else. You should have your car checked in a matter of days and not months. 

Although the check engine light can scare you and cause you unnecessary worry, the light is actually your friend. It alerts you to small problems before they become big ones, which is a valuable service. You should not panic, however. If the light is a steady one, you have a little time to fix the problem. If it is blinking, you need to call your mechanic or dealership right away. 

For a used car dealership, contact a company such as U Pick U Save.