Mon - Fri: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
book an Appointment

A Deeper Look Into Your Car's Check Engine Light

A Deeper Look Into Your Car's Check Engine Light | Airpark Auto Pros

You're cruising down the highway on your way back home, when suddenly, the dreaded check engine light illuminates on your dashboard. It's a common scenario that leaves many drivers feeling anxious and uncertain. But what does a free check engine light scan really mean? And do you still need to have a shop diagnose your problem?

Check Engine Light - Decoding the Signal

The check engine light serves as a warning system, alerting drivers to potential issues with their vehicle's engine or emissions system. When this light comes on, it's essentially your car's way of saying, "Hey, something's not right." 

However, it's important to note that the check engine light doesn't pinpoint the exact problem; it simply indicates that there's a fault code stored in the vehicle's onboard diagnostic system.

Free Check Engine Light Scan - What Does It Really Mean?

Many auto parts stores and repair shops offer free check engine light scans as a convenience for drivers. But what exactly does this entail? The technician uses a diagnostic tool to retrieve the fault codes stored in your vehicle's computer system. These codes provide insight into the specific issue triggering the check engine light, such as a malfunctioning sensor or emissions problem but often do not point to a specific problem.

Do You Still Need to Have a Shop Diagnose Your Problem?

While a free check engine light scan can provide valuable information, it's important to recognize its limitations. The fault codes retrieved during a scan are merely the starting point for diagnosing the problem. They offer clues as to what might be wrong with your vehicle, but they don't provide a definitive diagnosis. 

To accurately pinpoint the issue and determine the necessary repairs, it's often best to take your car to a qualified mechanic or repair shop for further diagnosis and evaluation.

The Importance of Professional Diagnosis

Having a trained technician diagnose your check engine light issue is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, a professional diagnosis ensures that the root cause of the problem is correctly identified. This can save you time and money by preventing unnecessary repairs or part replacements. Additionally, a skilled mechanic has the expertise and specialized equipment needed to accurately diagnose complex engine issues, ensuring that repairs are performed correctly the first time.

Distinguishing Between a Solid and Flashing Check Engine Light

When the check engine light illuminates your dashboard, paying attention to its behavior is crucial. Understanding the difference between a solid and flashing check engine light can provide valuable insights into the severity of the issue at hand.

A solid check engine light typically indicates a less severe problem. It suggests a fault code is stored in the vehicle's onboard diagnostic system, signaling a potential issue with the engine or emissions system. While it's essential to address a solid check engine light promptly, it doesn't necessarily indicate an immediate danger to your vehicle's operation. However, ignoring a solid check engine light can lead to more significant problems down the line, so it's wise to have the issue diagnosed and resolved as soon as possible.

On the other hand, a flashing check engine light demands immediate attention. Unlike a solid light, a flashing check engine light indicates a severe problem that requires immediate action. It often signifies a critical issue such as engine misfire, which can cause significant damage to the engine if left unattended. When you see a flashing check engine light, you must pull over to a safe location as soon as possible and turn off the engine. Continuing to drive with a flashing check engine light can exacerbate the problem and lead to costly repairs.


Airpark Auto Pros has a team of Master Technicians and Diagnosing Techs who can handle advanced issues, electronics, computer programing, and complex issues that usually require a dealer. Airpark Auto Pros also has the advanced diagnostic equipment (not just code scanners) and engine programming software needed to handle the tough problems.