5 Most Common Reasons Your Check Engine Light Is Coming On

If your check engine light keeps coming on due to an oxygen sensor, you are not alone. It’s the continuing number one reason for check engine lights, according to CarMD’s 2018 Vehicle Health Index report. The study looked 7,167,314 repairs recommended in calendar year 2017 on 1996-2017 model year vehicles.

Top 5 Reasons for Check Engine Light

Below you’ll find the rankings according to CarMD’s findings along with average cost of repairs. The one you don’t want is the pricey problem of replacing a catalytic converter. A loose fuel camp on the other hand isn’t so bad.

  1. Replace oxygen sensor – $238.29
  2. Replace ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s) – $367.56
  3. Replace Catalytic Converter(s) with new OE Catalytic Converter(s)- $1,271.01
  4. Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary – $26.00
  5. Replace Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Control Valve – $146.65

Repair Stats and Costs

CarMD also reports:

  • U.S. car repair costs were down 10% year-over-year from 2016 to 2017. The average cost – $357.
  • Car repair prices to fix check engine light issues were down across all four U.S regions.
  • The most expensive repair seen in 2017 by CarMD’s network was “replace engine,” costing $7,050.
  • The most common repair on a 20-year old 1997 model year vehicle is “replace oxygen sensor,” which costs on average $228.
  • The most common reason the check engine light illuminates on a brand new 2017 model year vehicle is a loose or missing gas cap.
  • For a 10-year-old model year 2007 vehicle, the most common check engine light repair is to replace the ignition coils and/or spark plugs, which can fail due to age, or build up from dust, dirt and wear and tear. The cost for this repair average $368, including parts and professional labor.

CarMD Garage

CarMD is a diagnostic tool I’ve known about and used for years. CarMD recently launched a vehicle maintenance report you can use called CarMD Garage. You just input a vehicle’s year, make, model – or vehicle identification number (VIN) – and mileage to generate a free CarMD Garage Vehicle Health Report. It has all sorts of useful info that can reduce the cost of vehicle ownership and extend a vehicle’s life.

To generate a CarMD Garage Vehicle Health Report for your car or truck, visit www.carmd.com/garage. I pulled a report on one of my cars and the information was very useful.

Each free CarMD Garage Vehicle Health Report may include the following information:

  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) decoding
  • Average miles per gallon (MPG)
  • Recalls
  • Service Maintenance Due
  • Warranty Status
  • Predicted Failure count
  • Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) count

The following optional Premium Report information for most 1996 to current OBD-II cars, light trucks, minivans, and SUVs is also available for purchase:

  • Detailed Service Maintenance due with repair difficulty, parts and labor cost for each service item
  • Detailed Predicted Failures with description, percentage of likelihood, repair difficulty, and parts and labor estimates for service issues likely to occur in the next 12 months
  • PDF of each of the articles for all TSBs by system available for that vehicle
  • Vehicle Title History Reporting, including DMV and accident history

CarMD Garage is designed for average motorists, used car buyers and sellers, as well as automotive enthusiasts and DIYers. For instance, being able to decode a VIN or look up warranty status can be helpful when listing a used car for sale or shopping for car insurance.

Online Parts Search

As online auto parts purchasing becomes more prevalent, automotive enthusiasts and DIYers find that it can be difficult and time-consuming to search millions of parts online to find the right part for a specific vehicle. When maintenance is due, CarMD Garage pinpoints the right part and provides a direct link to purchase the part online, which also reduces returns for the online retailer.

Photo Credit: Daniel Krason/Shutterstock
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