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Most Common Causes of the Check Engine Light

common causes of check engine lightKingsport, TN

The check-engine-light is the number one indicator that vehicle owners cringe at the sight of when they see it. What could it be? Well, honestly, that warning could be caused by many different mechanical issues, some of which may be costly to repair. To help you save money on the front end, here are some of the most common check-engine-light problems that vehicle owners face. No matter what the problem is, don't ignore it or it could end up costing you more in repairs.

Oxygen Senors

The O2 sensor is the most common vehicle repair. It is responsible for maintaining the engine's fuel to air ratio. The O2 sensor could fail due to neglecting vehicle repairs or using fuel with too much ethanol. The average cost for this repair is around $250 but may vary depending on your vehicle make and model, as well as the mechanic that you choose. However, don't neglect it or you could end up decreasing your fuel economy by as much as 40%.

Catalytic Converter

Reported as the second most common vehicle repair, fixing this problem could set you back about $1000 or more. The interesting part about a failing catalytic converter is that it usually fails due to an underlying issue, which is why the repair costs could be higher.

Ignition Coils and Spark Plugs

That engine tune-up that the manufacturer recommends for your vehicle is an opportunity to have your vehicle’s spark plugs changed out accordingly. Improper spark plug maintenance or excessive heat under the hood could lead to a faulty ignition coil. Repairs for this could be upwards of $350.

Fuel Cap

This is quite possibly the cheapest repair that your vehicle may ever need. A loose fitting fuel cap will allow gas to evaporate. You can always check your fuel cap for free, although replacing a damaged or missing one would only cost about $15.


The thermostat is a vital component to the vehicle’s engine as it regulates the temperature by way of controlling the flow of coolant. Driving your vehicle in harsh conditions such as an acidic environment or extreme temperatures could cause corrosion, which would result in a failed thermostat.

Mass Air Flow Sensor

The MAF sensor is responsible for measuring the air coming and going from the engine, which affects how much fuel is injected into the engine. A faulty MAF sensor could mean decreased fuel economy. Repairs to replace an MAF sensor may cost upwards of $400.

Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Control Valve

The EVAP is what prevents vapors from your car’s gas from entering the environment. Instead, the control valve channels the vapors into a charcoal canister that the engine will burn up. Replacing an EVAP can range between $150-200.

As you can see, these repairs could add up rather quickly. It is important to adhere to your vehicle's scheduled maintenance guide in hopes of preventing a breakdown or causing extensive damage to your engine or other components.

PWC Towing serves consumers in East Tennessee, Western North Carolina, and Southwest Virginia. To reach us, please call (423) 530-4100.

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