So there you are, driving down on the Tollway after a long day at work thinking about what else needs to be done when you get home – after fighting traffic. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you hear a “ding”. Instinctively you look down at the instrument cluster thinking maybe you are a little low on fuel. Not that easy this time! The “Check Engine” light is on! Oh no!
To pull over, or not to pull over, that is the question.
Is your car driving ok? Is the engine temperature gauge moving towards the red? Was that a bump in the road or is the engine acting strangely? Should I call someone who knows more about cars than I do? Should I call my husband? I can’t call my wife because I am supposed to know these things!
Here is the good news: your BMW Check Engine Light does not usually mean an imminent engine explosion. In fact, you may not notice any difference in drivability at all. The car runs self diagnosis all the time of multiple systems in order to protect itself, you, your passengers, the public, and the environment. Most of the time there needs to be a certain number of “instances” of something occurring before the light comes on. This keeps false readings to a minimum.
Newer BMW’s can tell you something about the severity of the light as well. A YELLOW light in the shape of the engine means that the system recognized a problem ranging from excess air getting into the system or perhaps a loose fuel cap. Generally there will not be a noticeable difference in the way the car drives. A RED check engine light is a little more serious, and this can indicate problems within the engine that could lead to other things being damaged if it is driven. An example would be a cylinder misfiring which would send unburned fuel into the catalytic converter causing damage. Lastly, a check engine light where half of the image is filled in means that the problem is potentially more severe and the engine has gone into “limp mode”. This helps prevent permanent damage to the engine while allowing you to get somewhere safe.
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