Q: What to do if my "check engine" light is on?

A: The simplest way is to visit Three Star Auto for proper diagnostic. We have all the equipment and information needed to correct the problem. The problem might be even covered by the manufacturers warranty and repaired free of charge.

Q: Is it safe to drive if my check engine light is on?

A: It really depends what code is stored and what caused it. In worst cases driving with check engine light may cause more damage to the vehicle. A car may even stall while driving. If your check engine light came on, I'd certainly recommend to visit Three Star Auto as soon as possible, just to be on a safe side.

Q: Will disconnecting the battery reset check engine light?

A: Disconnecting the battery might reset the check engine light on some cars. Hovewer, instead of doing so, I recommend to bring your car to Three Star Auto for a proper diagnostic, and here is why:
- not all cars will clear the code after disconnecting the battery
- often, the problem may be actually covered by the warranty and repaired free of charge by your dealer. For example, if you have the code P0420 - Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold it's very possible that your catalytic converter it's still covered by the original emission warranty and may be replaced free of charge (would cost you close to $1000 otherwise).
- some problems, if not repaired in time may cause a serious damage and more costly repair.
- disconnecting the battery will cause many other basic settings of the vehicle's computer to be erased (e.g. idle settings, fuel trim settings, transmission shift points, etc.)
- the radio, if code-protected, may be locked after disconnecting the battery
- the "check engine" light will come back anyway if the problem still exist.

What does your "Check Engine" light really mean?

Does that light mean that you should open your hood, look at your engine and see if you see anythingodd there? Sounds that way doesn’t it? And after you "check" it, what should you do next? Call for help on your cell phone? Please read on to find out what this misnamed light is really for. When the "Check Engine" light comes on and stays on while the vehicle is running, it means that the on-board computer (known as the Electronic Control Module, or ECM) has detected a problem in one of the many systems it monitors and controls. The problem may be minor or it could be serious.

What if the "Check Engine" light comes on but my car is still running okay?

The best thing about the 'Check Engine' light is that it often detects little problems before they become big, expensive problems. And not every problem gives you obvious indications (hard starting, rough running, stalling, etc.) that something is wrong. That's why you can't ignore this important little light. The 'Check Engine' light also alerts you to problems like poor fuel mileage, reduced performance or excessive exhaust emissions. These problems can evolve so slowly that you get used to them. But your on-board computer is sensitive enough to detect even gradual changes, then let you know when something is wrong.

What does the on-board computer do?

The computer processes information it receives from the sensors, then it sends out commands to the systems it controls. This includes your car's fuel delivery, spark timing and emission control systems. Most of the time, your on-board computer is hard at work and you're not even aware of it. But when it needs help, it turns on your 'Check Engine' light (It should say "Check Computer System"). The "Check Engine" light is your vehicle's way of saying 'Take me to a Three Star Auto service technician right now!'

What will you do when I bring my vehicle in for service?

When you come to us with the "Check Engine" light on, we connect your vehicle's computer to our shop computer. Your car's computer will usually give our computer a trouble code, indicating why the "Check Engine" light was activated. We use this code to help us trace down the actual problem and correct it. After we correct the problem, we clear any codes in the system and run your vehicle to make sure everything is back to normal. At that point your "Check Engine" light will be off if all systems are operating normally.

Today's on-board computer technology provides us with a window into your vehicle's computerized systems to see if all vehicle systems are operating normally. While our computer is connected to your car, we can inspect for proper idle speed, throttle response, engine temperature, fuel trim, manifold vacuum, oxygen sensor activity and other key sensors, all through your vehicle's ECM. However, while computer technology can direct us to potential problems, nothing can replace the skills and knowledge of a Three Star Auto technician. Working with the computer, our staff can thoroughly diagnose and correct almost any problems your vehicle may have.

Watch your other lights and gauges too!

Your check engine light does NOT usually monitor your engine oil pressure. And you usually have a separate light or gauge for your engine temperature as well. Keep an eye on these two gauges too. Major

Engine failure can often be prevented by monitoring these two gauges and reacting properly to abnormal readings on them. High engine temperature or low oil pressure are both indications that you need to turn off your engine ASAP and find out what is wrong before major damage occurs.

Car Care Tip

Turn your key on but don't start your engine. Watch your dash panel. You should see a lot of indicators light up. At this point your vehicle is testing all your on-board systems. You should see your anti-lock, air bag, oil pressure, engine temperature, check engine light and perhaps some others flash on. Most of the lights that are computer monitored will go off in a few seconds. The rest should go off when you start your engine. If you get in the habit of glancing at these lights and their response you may someday catch a major problem early and save yourself a lot of money. If your vehicle has gauges on some of it's systems instead of lights just get used to the normal gauge readings and call us or come in if these readings become abnormal. We can always take a quick look and advise you if we think you have a problem or not.