Check Engine Light | What should I do?

Check Engine Light Help

Every so often at NewRoads Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC, we have customers phoning and coming in to our service department to ask about the dreaded “check engine” light. But when or service center closes, our customers are left in the dark, worrying. What should you do when you’re driving and the check engine light (CEL) comes on? In this post we hope to answer all of your questions so you can relax and take the right measures and precautions when it comes to your engine and your safety.

First and foremost: What is the check engine light for?
The problem with the check engine light is that it is very broad and gives you as the driver very little information about the problem. It could be something small that may correct itself, or a more serious issue that will cause more damage if left untreated. What it does tell us is that the problem is specific to the emissions of the vehicle. The solution could be as simple as tightening your gas cap.

Are there any terms I should know?
CEL: Check Engine Light
MIL: Malfunction Indicator Light (same as above)
DTC: Diagnostic Trouble Code OBD: On Board Diagnostics

What is the difference between a solid and flashing light?
Both a solid and a flashing light require attention, but a flashing light is more serious. It is not advisable to continue driving with a flashing light, you could cause yourself more serious damage and need more repairs.

The light was there, then it turned off. Should I address it?
If the check engine light goes off, the issue has often corrected itself. Don’t worry about bringing it in unless the light comes back on.

Is it safe to keep driving?
If the light appears while driving, do not panic. If the light is flashing, the problem is more severe in which case you should pull over when possible and call a tow truck. If the light is solid, assess the drivability: Is it rough? Are there funny noises? Is there anything different about the usual performance? If not, reduce your speed and finish driving.

I’m ready to have it serviced. What steps should I take?
Check out our service schedule and book an appointment online, or by calling 1(877) 273-1880.


Do you have a new GM vehicle? Contact OnStar, they will be able to read the DTC and tell you what the problem is.  Hopefully this will help give you some peace of mind while waiting to solve the problem.