Does a Check Engine Light Mean My Car is Totaled?

A Check Engine Light, or Malfunctioning Indicator Lamp (MIL), is an important safety component in every vehicle. All modern make and model vehicles are designed with a Check Engine Light feature, which are incorporated to alert drivers when something is not quite right with the operation and systems in the vehicle. Because an illuminated Check Engine Light means that something is wrong, often times, car owners begin to panic when theirs comes on. Sometimes, a Check Engine Light can remain illuminated even after having a car repaired. In this situation, you might be asking yourself whether or not your car is worth repairing.

Continue reading to learn what a Check Engine Light could mean, including when it could mean that your car is totaled.

Sell Us Your Totaled Car! 317-608-2188
Sell Us Your Totaled Car! 317-608-2188

Reasons Why Check Engine Lights Come On

The spectrum of issues that cause a Malfunctioning Indicator Lamp to illuminate range from minor to major. Some vehicles have two types of MIL’s, one that is solid and one that is flashing, both of which mean different warnings. Furthermore, some cars have two different colors of Malfunctioning Indicator Lamps; a yellow icon to indicate a problem, as well as, a red icon for a very serious problem that requires you to stop driving immediately.

Here’s Why Yours Might Be On Right Now:

? Loose Gap Cap – This is by far the most common minor reason why a Check Engine Light might illuminate. If you just filled up your tank, chances are, your Check Engine Light came on because your gas cap came off.

? Spark Plugs – If your car jolts or vibrates as its operating, and the Check Engine Light comes on, it could mean that your spark plugs are defective. If your car is driving abnormally, immediately pull over and call a tow truck.

? Low Fluids – If your vehicle is low on radiator fluid (coolant), motor oil, or another vital automotive fluid, your Check Engine Light might come on. Have your oil changed, and during the appointment, have all other fluids flushed and replaced.

? Oxygen (O2) Sensor (O2) – If your Check Engine Light comes on, and you know it’s not the gas cap or fluid levels, it could be because your oxygen sensor needs to be replaced. This part is responsible for measuring the level of unburned oxygen in the exhaust system.

? Catalytic Converter – If your catalytic converter is experiencing any type of problem, your Check Engine Light will let you know.

? Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF) – Another common cause for an illuminated Check Engine Light is a defective mass airflow sensor (MAF). If this sensor is the problem, a simple replacement will turn that Check Engine Light back off.

When it Means a Car is Totaled

There are cases in which an illuminated Check Engine Light can mean that a car is totaled. If the Check Engine Light comes on because of something that requires extensive repairs or replacements that cost more than the overall value of the vehicle, the insurance company will likely deem the car a total loss. See our blog, “FAQS About Total Loss Cars and Claims” to learn more about total loss vehicles.

What You Can Do With a Totaled Car

Call GC’s Junk Cars at 317-608-2188 to get paid cash for your totaled car in Indianapolis. Our Indiana junk car buyers offer free towing with our in-house tow truck, so all you have to do is call and accept our offer! We will schedule a time to pick up your vehicle and pay you cash. No title? No problem! Give us a call anyway! Call 317-608-2188 to request a free estimate, today.

GC’s Junk Cars
GC’s Junk Cars 317-608-2188

Why is My Check Engine Light On?

Junk Car Buyers 317-608-2188

Junk Car Buyers 317-608-2188

Most people can relate to having car problems. Squeaky brakes, poor suspensions, broken headlights, and more are common issues experienced by drivers and car owners every day. Although these problems are a concern, the engine is the scariest of them all. When you see your check engine light illuminate, it is easy to feel some degree of panic. You might be envisioning outrageous repair bills, or worse, discovering that your car is completely totaled.

Unfortunately, when a malfunction indicator lamp (also known as your check engine light) comes on, immediate action is required, whether that means paying for repair or not. That is because it is not safe to drive a vehicle with potential performance problems.

This is especially true in the case of major engine damage. In this case, it is in the best interest of your safety to either have your engine repaired, or to junk your car entirely. So learn why your check engine light might be on, and what to do if it is too expensive to repair.

Professional Diagnostic Testing

There are countless reasons for a malfunction indicator lamp to illuminate on a driver’s dashboard. Because there are so many different variables involved when it comes to determining a problem, a person needs professional assistance. The first step in figuring out why your check engine light has illuminated is diagnostic testing. Usually, an automotive repair shop is the obvious place to get this type of analytical testing. They retain the proper tools, training, and equipment to accurately diagnose readings derived from diagnostic examinations. This service can cost anywhere from $50 to $75, depending on the particular provider.

On the other hand, if you are familiar with automotive service and repair, you can purchase a diagnostic test kit and perform the assessment yourself. These are available at any local automotive store, and come in a wide range of options and prices. Keep in mind that you may need to learn how to read codes and pinpoint all contributing factors to accurately diagnose the underlying problems.

Common Reasons:

Loose Gas Cap

The job of the gas is to seal the fuel system and retain pressure inside the fuel tank. It prevents gasoline fumes, or hydrocarbons, from being admitted into the atmosphere and polluting the air and surrounding environment. If a loose gas is not fastened properly, gasoline within the tank will evaporate causing a drivers fuel level to decrease substantially. Considering the high gas prices these days, this is a very undesirable situation for any driver to have on their hands. The good news is that a loose gas is simple to fix. Simply type of backup or purchase a new cap that will fit and seal your fuel tank properly.

Oxygen Sensor

Oxygen sensors, also referred to as O2 sensors, measure the amount of oxygen that is unburned in a vehicle exhaust system. They will cause a check engine light to illuminate when it’s time for them to be replaced. Again, if a driver fails to replace their O2 sensors, they will begin to lose a significant amount of gas mileage because the engine will burn more fuel than it needs to. Fuel economy loss can reach up to 40% or more if an oxygen sensor problem is ignored for too long. Defective oxygen sensors can also cause problems with a vehicle’s spark plugs and catalytic converter; a much higher and costly automotive repair.

Mass Airflow Sensors

A mass airflow sensor, or MAF, is the center that determines how much fuel your engine needs to run properly. It accomplishes this by measuring the amount of air entering an engine. All recommendations for O2 sensor replacements are the same for mass airflow sensors. Failure to replace MAF sensors can cause damage to a vehicle spark plugs or Lytic converter as mentioned before; as well as, reduced engine performance and fuel economy. Again, if caught early on and replaced on schedule, these repairs will cost less than if damages were to occur.

Spark Plugs

We mentioned above that failing to replace sensors can cause damages to a vehicle spark plugs or plug wires. Well, when a malfunction indicator lamp turns on it could mean that your spark plugs or plug wires need replaced. This is also a fairly inexpensive repair, so it is important to catch this early on as well and have them replaced by professional automotive repair shop or licensed mechanic. Failing to replace plug wires can cause damages to ignition coils and O2 sensors, clog catalytic converters, and much more.

Catalytic Converter

The most costly and expensive reason behind an illuminated check engine light is a malfunctioning or damage catalytic converter. Catalytic converters convert carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide; protecting our environment and reducing harmful exhaust emissions. Neglecting to replace or repair a damaged catalytic converter will cause your vehicle to fail the state’s vehicle emissions test. Your car will lose fuel economy, experienced reduced gas mileage, poor engine performance, and operate at a higher temperature. This can lead to engine overheating and more.

Total Loss Vehicles

Some of the above-mentioned automotive issues may render a vehicle a total loss. Then occurs when the total cost of the repair exceeds the total current value of the vehicle. For instance, if your vehicle has a current market value of $2500, but the cost to replace your engine is $3500, your car is considered a total loss. This means it is totaled. In this situation, you can redeem the insurance money for it, or sell it to an Indianapolis junk car buyer for instant cash on the spot.

Get Paid Cash On the Spot for Your Totaled Car!

GC's Junk Cars of Indianapolis 317-608-2188

GC’s Junk Cars of Indianapolis 317-608-2188

Call GC’s Junk Cars at 317-608-2188 to sell your totaled car for cash in Indianapolis. We offer free towing with our in-house tow truck, so all you have to do is call and accept our offer! We will schedule a time to pick up your vehicle and pay you cash. Call 317-608-2188 to request a free estimate, today.