Things to Know About a Vehicle with the Check Engine Light On - Subaru Service Questions in Salt Lake City, UT

We can't think of a better vehicle for getting around the greater Salt Lake City area than an AWD Subaru, but what happens if the Check Engine Light Comes on? Well, there are only a couple things that we can say for certain when you first notice this ominous light appear. First, is the light look to be yellow or red? If it's yellow, you should be able to drive the vehicle to the service center. However, if it's red, you should safely pull off the road and arrange for the vehicle to be towed to a service center. That's because driving with a red CEL on could result in engine damage and other unsafe situations on the road. No matter what color the CEL is when you see it come on in your Subaru, schedule an appointment at our factory-authorized Subaru service center in Salt Lake City, UT. Below, you'll find 6 common reasons why the check engine light comes on in modern cars.

Top of car gas tank with evaporation lines connected

6. EVAP System Fault

Many modern vehicles are equipped with an evaporation system that includes canister of activated charcoal to capture gasoline fumes and send them safely back through the engine. A fault in this system, usually related to the evaporation canister, should turn on the check engine light. Often, replacing the canister will solve the problem, but you'll want to be sure before spending the time and money on it. That's why we strongly recommend having your Subaru CEL codes read by the experts in an authorized service center like ours.

Technician with automotive code reader

5. Mass Air Sensor

As you may know, modern cars are complex machines that require a computer to ensure everything runs efficiently and correctly. This computer does its job with information from a wide range of sensors. It's a code from these sensors that are most often to blame for a check engine light coming on, and the engine's air intake sensor is a common one that needs attention on higher-mileage vehicles. Often called the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor, this tells the computer how much air is entering the engine. Sometimes, something as simple as an expired engine air filter can trip a code for this sensor and other times it's the sensor itself. Whatever the case, it's not a problem you should drive around with for very long.

4. Coolant Temperature Sensor

The engine's temperature is another piece of information the computer will need to run the car well. Not only is the information from this sensor important in alerting you to an overheating engine, it's also influential in how the computer runs things. So, if this sensor is throwing a code that turns on the CEL, you may not be warned about an overheating engine and the computer may not be able to keep the engine running very well.

Typical car check engine light

3. Loose Gas Cap

This one might seem odd, but a gas cap that's not making a properly tightened seal can make it look like there's a problem with the EVAP system we mentioned further down this list. So, if you've recently dropped your gas cap or even just gotten gas when the CEL comes on, you might start by making sure your gas cap is on and tight. If it's cracked, you might need to replace it. If this is the reason your check engine light comes on, it's one of the most affordable reasons to fix.

2. Ignition System Fault

Modern Subaru BOXER® engines are marvels of engineering with an impressively advanced ignition system. You might be surprised at just how much goes into making sure each spark plug fires with precision. From the ignition coils to the wires and spark plugs themselves, there are several reasons that an ignition system can turn on the CEL. Ignition problems can also show up as a red check engine light since the engine could die.

1. O2 Sensors

This is the most common reason that our certified Subaru dealership service center sees for the CEL coming on. All modern cars are equipped with O2 sensors in the exhaust system. These are important sensors that measure the oxygen levels in the exhaust gasses and it's this information that the computer needs to determine the correct mixture of air and fuel. Most modern vehicles will have at least two O2 sensors. One will be located before the catalytic converter, which is the one that tells the computer what it needs. The other O2 sensor is typically found behind the Catalytic converter. It provides equally important information about the vehicle's emission systems. No matter which O2 sensor set of your car's CEL, we recommend that you only trust factory-trained technicians like those in our service center at Nate Wade Subaru.

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Nate Wade Subaru

1207 South Main St
Directions Salt Lake City, UT 84111

  • Sales: (801) 658-9379
  • Service: (801) 328-1327
  • Parts: (801) 328-0061