With the advent of technology, the usage of machines has been made easier and safer. The automobile industry is one of the many that have embraced this advancement for the better.
Modern cars come with multiple warning lights on their dashboards to warn the driver of any complications with any car part; from the engine to light parts like the gas cap.
One such light is the service engine soon light which many drivers feel is in many ways similar to the check engine light-although we can clearly state that the two are different in more ways than one.
When the service engine soon light illuminates, it most of the time warns of minor engine issues but you are advised to pull over and inspect any obvious parts you might have in mind.
Since every driver knows their car, some drivers know better than to ignore this light and others trust their cars enough to drive on even as the light blinks- response to the service engine soon light is subjective.
You could be driving your car home one day all of a sudden the service engine soon light comes on and you wonder what could be wrong. Your worries are aggravated by the fact that your car never misses a service date.
You are left wondering, why is the service engine soon light blinking? Well, there are many causes for the service engine soon light illuminating. The most obvious ones are low levels of fluid, bad light bulbs, or mild emission issues (depending on the make)
What Causes The Service Engine Light To Come On?
1. Bad Fuel Cap
This should be the first area you inspect when the service engine soon light comes on. The cap could have fallen off, it could be loose or have cracks. This will allow for fuel vapors to leak and the Engine Control Module could interpret it as a problem.
This issue can cause emissions or alter the car’s fuel economy levels. It is advisable to replace the capo as soon as possible.
2. A Fall In Fluid Levels
This depends a lot on the car’s model. The light could mean that the car is way past its scheduled oil change date.
It could also mean that the car’s oil level has gone down. This is no cause for alarm as you can save the fluid change for the next day.
The final scenario is where the light indicates a critical need for an oil change, this cannot wait and you are safer not driving the car any further. Branch out to the nearest service station and have your oil levels checked.
3. Harmful Gasses
If the car senses contaminated gasses in the system, it triggers the service engine soon light. This problem is not severe and should disappear after two or three refills with safe fuel.
If your car is new and the light drives you into panic mode you can have it checked with a diagnosis tool to clear your doubts.
4. Faulty Oxygen Sensor
For optimal performance, the fuel-oxygen ratio in the car should be kept optimum. If there is an alteration to this ratio, the car indicates it through the service engine soon light.
Modern vehicles are built to run that way. If the oxygen levels fall and the oil level rises, this mixture could have adverse effects on the engine.
A higher than normal level of oxygen in the mixture will negate the engine’s performance or possibly cause damage to the entire system.
If the car continues running on damaged oxygen sensors, other parts like spark plugs and the catalytic convertor could get damaged too.
5. Worn Out Spark Plugs And Wires
Sparks and wires tend to get worn out as time goes by and as soon as the car senses issues with these parts, it communicates it through the service engine soon light.
Spark plugs are at the core of the combustion process and if they get damaged, the cycle will be incomplete.
Bad spark plugs and wires could cause weak accelerations, rough idling, and misfires. It is these results that trigger the service engine soon light.
How Can A Blinking Service Engine Soon Light Be Fixed?
Fix the loose gas cap
You can start by taking it out, putting it back on, and driving along. After some minutes the car should reset and turn the light off.
If the light is still on, you might need to replace it. It costs around $95 and $100 to get the whole process done. The cap goes for around $75 while the labor costs depend on the garage you visit.
Replace The Spark Plugs And Wires
You can replace the spark plugs at home with a few tools or you can drive to your mechanic’s. New spark plugs will set you back around $210-exclusive of taxes.
Replace The Mass Air Flow Sensor
The cost of a new MAF will depend on the car and the mechanic’s rates but it is not cheap. You might have to pay over $300.
Are Check Engine And Service Engine Soon The Same?
No, they are not the same. The service engine soon light indicates minor engine and electric complications while the check engine light is triggered by issues that we can call “more immediate”.
Does A Blinking Service Engine Soon Light Indicate Serious Problems With The Car?
No, most of the time the service engine soon light illuminates in response to rather mild concerns.
Can I Drive With A Blinking Service Engine Soon Light?
The issues that trigger the service engine soon light are not severe so driving for a few extra miles will not kill your engine. You are however advised to check the oil levels.
Can A Service Engine Soon Light Be Checked With A Scanner?
Almost every car problem connected to the car’s core system can be traced using a scanner-the service engine soon light is one of them.
The service engine soon light can be confusing to drivers who prefer to get their communication from the check engine light.
The good thing is that this light does not in most cases indicate any critical engine issues but mild complications that you can pawn off for tomorrow.
Getting the light to go off is pretty easy and affordable, depending on the model.