The road trip is full of surprises. One can accidentally meet a beautiful waterfall on a mountain serpentine or get a flat in the same place and wait for help for several hours. And if the algorithm of actions in this situation is quite apparent, some malfunctions can confound anyone. For example, a car suddenly asks to check the engine. The Indy Auto Man mechanics explain what to do, whether to continue the journey and how to recognize a real problem if the Check Engine icon lights up away from services and qualified help.
Preparing the car for the trip
Depending on the purpose of the trip and the time of year, the set of necessary items will be different, but the main set of things should always be in the car. It includes a warning triangle, a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit, a jack, a spare tire, and a repair kit.
It will not be superfluous to schedule an additional visit to the service station before a long road. Ask the master to carry out computer diagnostics of the blocks – this will help identify malfunctions that might not have manifested themselves yet and which can be eliminated before the trip. If earlier there were malfunctions in the operation of the motor or the engine indicator (Check Engine icon) lit up, this is a reason to visit the workshop.
The Check Engine light on does not always mean that you need to stop the car right now and look for a tow truck. It indicates a detected malfunction in the engine operation or its systems. But it can be either a disconnected sensor or a serious problem that threatens to break the unit.
To understand how critical the situation is, you need to pay attention to the auto’s behavior. If the operation has not changed, the thrust has not disappeared, and the fuel consumption has not increased, then, most likely, with a malfunction, you can safely drive to the nearest service for diagnostics.
If the car has an additional indication, this will help to make the right decision. Sometimes the car itself tells you whether to go further at the same pace. In an emergency, you should refer to the operating instructions or specialists. It can be an official dealer or a specialized service. They will advise you over the phone and tell you whether it is worth continuing to move.
What to do if the “Check Engine” lights up and goes out
This situation is the simplest. If the indicator goes out after a while on its own, the malfunction no longer appears but is recorded in the car’s memory. You can continue your trip without any worries. But do not forget to stop by the service station at the first opportunity. After all, this can happen again, but the malfunction can be more serious.
What to do if the “Check Engine” does not go out
First, turn off and start the engine again. If this does not help, then the malfunction is permanent. The reasons for it are different: from problems with sensors and wiring to low-quality fuel and mechanical breakdowns. If the car’s behavior has not changed, drive to the nearest service station, observing safety precautions. Move slowly, do not spin the motor above 3000 rpm. While on the road, keep an eye on other gauges and monitor any changes in vehicle behavior.
If the indicator is accompanied by a loss of power
Power may reduce due to restrictions from electronic control units or after a mechanical failure. These can be air leaks, a fuel system breakdown, a problem in the exhaust system, and much more. If this happened far from cities, and there is no tow truck nearby, you should carefully get to the nearest service station, even if your car will require serious repairs later.
If it is possible to call specialists or call for help (exit service or a tow truck) on the highway, it will be easier and cheaper to use this opportunity. Catching passing motorists to help you does not make much sense. Most likely, they will not have the necessary skills and equipment to diagnose a malfunction. And some advice from incompetent persons can harm the car even more.
What to do if the “Check Engine” indicator is flashing
Alas, this is a grave problem, and further movement will lead to major damage. Most often, such a signal means numerous misfires. Unburned hot fuel gets on the catalytic converter, which can collapse because of this, leading to a grand overhaul or even replacement of the engine. It is worth driving a car with a flashing “Check engine” only in case of danger threatening someone’s life and health. In other situations, you should turn off the engine and find a tow truck.
What to do if the car does not move
If the worst happened, and the car stalls and then is not starting, do not panic. Mark the car and yourself on the roadway: turn on the hazard warning lights, and put up a sign. In this case, it will not be superfluous to ask other drivers for help, they can give you and your passengers a ride to the nearest town or let you contact local evacuation and repair services.