Check engine light: what repairs might cost and how to be prepared
Realizing your check engine light is on is a moment every driver should dread. From the hassle of going to the mechanic and finding out what’s wrong your with your car, to potentially finding out repairs will cost you an arm and a leg, it is almost impossible not to panic.
So what if there was a way to be prepared for this dreadful little light and anticipate the worst case scenario before it even happens? We’ve gathered a few tips that will help you and your car.
What does check engine light mean?
According to ConsumerReports.org, “The check engine light is part of your car’s so-called onboard diagnostics system. Since the 1980s, computers increasingly have controlled and monitored vehicle performance, regulating such variables as engine speed, fuel mixture, and ignition timing. In modern cars, a computer also tells the automatic transmission when to shift,” they explain on their website. “When it finds a problem in the electronic control system that it can’t correct, a computer turns on a yellow warning indicator labeled “check engine,” “service engine soon,” or “check powertrain.”
The inevitable costs associated with maintenance and repair should be an important consideration for car shoppers. Did you know that a recent AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers could not afford an unexpected repair bill? They also reported that new vehicles, on average, will cost a driver $1,186 per year to maintain and repair.
What do I do when it goes off?
Don’t ignore it — Even though ignoring this might some like a good temporary solution and way to save money, this is one of the worst mistakes you can make, as you could potentially be damaging the engine permanently, costing you more and causing you to even maybe lose your car.
Go to a mechanic — A diagnosis could cost you around $90, but knowledge is power, so once you have a diagnosis made by a mechanic, you’ll know what’s wrong with your car and how it needs to be repaired.
According to Consumer Reports, the ten most common problems associated with the check engine light are:
- Oxygen sensor failure
- Loose gas cap
- Catalytic converter failure
- Spark plug/Ignition coil issues
- Bad spark plug wires
- Mass airflow sensor failure
- Issues with an aftermarket alarm
- Vacuum leak
- Exhaust gas recirculation valve failure
- Dead battery
Want to learn more about how your car could be affecting you financially and how to fix that? Don’t miss our blog “We love our cars but they are a big personal budget expense.”
How can I be prepared?
Everyone who owns a car knows that unexpected repairs are hardly ever cheap. Here are a few additional tips on how to be prepared:
Have a Healthy Savings Account and an Emergency Fund
Have you heard of the 50/30/20 rule? It’s sound advice for anyone with basic financial needs! The rule states that 50% of your income should go towards necessities, such as your mortgage and other utilities. 30% should go towards discretionary items like clothes or dining out. The last 20% should be going to savings.
A common reason we often hear for not having any savings is not making enough money to cover expenses and still save. Know that the path to financial freedom requires focus and commitment, but saving 20% of your income could save you in situations like this.
Regular check-ups could prevent your check engine light from going off as your car will get regular oil changes and battery replacements that will keep it running and decrease unforeseen events.
Visit a Reliable Mechanic
Going the DIY way might be cheaper and more convenient. However, by not going to an expert you could be doing more damage, so do your research and find a reliable mechanic in your area you can trust with all your car needs.
Consider a personal loan
If you need immediate cash but want to stay away from credit cards to avoid high interest rates, a personal loan might be your best option. Click here for more on personal loans and how they work.
If you follow all these steps, the moment your check engine light goes off shouldn’t be that scary.
Don’t have a car yet? Click here to learn about the pros and cons of used vs. new cars!
LendingPoint is a personal loan provider specializing in NearPrime consumers. Typically, NearPrime consumers are people with credit scores in the 600s. If this is you, we’d love to talk to you about how we might be able to help you meet your financial goals. We offer loans from $2,000 to $25,000, all with fixed payments and simple interest.