Posted on: Jun. 02, 2017 in Auto Maintenance

There are few sounds as terrible as driving along and hearing your dashboard ding and then seeing your check engine light has illuminated. Will that be a huge repair or a little one? You’ll have no idea until you bring the car to a mechanic for diagnostic testing. According to CarMD and their 2017 Vehicle Health Index, you shouldn’t panic just yet. Using data from 2016, they compiled the top ten reasons for the check engine light and their average cost of repair.


10. Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Solenoid - $195.95: This piece controls how much fuel vapor escapes into the atmosphere. When it starts to fail, your check engine light will tell you it’s time to replace it.

9. Thermostat - $225.40: The thermostat, like any other thermostat, controls the temperature. This one regulates the engine and will release coolant as needed. If you haven’t changed your coolant or drive in extreme temperatures, your thermostat can become corroded.

8. Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Control Valve - $176.45: This valve is also part of your emissions system. It prevents gas tank vapors from entering the atmosphere by sending them to a charcoal canister to be burned in the engine. Eventually this valve will stick and need replacing.

7. Spark Plug Wires and Spark Plugs - $341.71: Failing spark plugs and spark plug wires result in engine misfires, causing your gas mileage to decline. If they remain uncorrected, they can damage your catalytic converter, the most expensive repair on this list. If you’re handy, replacing spark plugs yourself can cost you less than $20.

6. Ignition Coil(s) - $243.42: This part (or parts, your car may have more than one) can stop working due to age or high temperatures under the hood. This is another part that can lead to a damaged catalytic converter.

5. Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor - $378.15: The MAF measures air going into the engine and determines how much fuel to inject. Problems with this piece can hurt your fuel economy by 10% to 20%.

4. Loose Fuel Cap - $16.88: This is something you can check yourself and may even be free to fix. A loose cap can set off the check engine light because it allows gas to evaporate. If it’s loose, missing, or damaged, you’ll find out!

3. Ignition Coil(s) and Spark Plugs - $401. 22: You’ve seen both of these on the list before as solo acts. But because spark plug problems can very often lead to ignition coil problems, you’ll most often see them fail together.

2. Catalytic Converter(s) with new OE Catalytic Converter(s) - $1,190.18: This is the big one, and it’s the second most common engine problem. Typically, this part will not fail unless you’ve been ignoring some other problem, which is why you can’t ignore that light. At nearly $1,200, this is a repair you definitely want to avoid.

1. Oxygen Sensor(s) (O2s) - $258.63: The sensor, along with the on-board computer, determine the fuel-to-air ratio. When it fails, your fuel economy suffers. A common cause of problems here is using gas with higher ethanol concentration or ignoring other engine problems.

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