September 8, 2021

Has your engine warning light turned on? Not a good sign. Here are the possible causes and what to do if the warning light is on.

For several years now, machines have been communicating in an increasingly sophisticated way, using lights and sensors to continuously check the vehicle and all its main components.  To check them there are special indicators, including the engine failure light, a yellow or orange light that depicts a stylized image of an engine.

These warning lights are connected to the control unit, to warn the driver if there’s a problem or a fault.

A fairly common warning is the engine failure light   turning on, a condition that indicates the presence of a more or less serious fault. The engine warning light isn’t present in electric vehicles. Instead you’re more likely to encounter a low battery warning or a general electrical issue warning. 

Let's look at what to do if your engine warning light turns on or starts flashing. 

Engine failure warning light on: what does it mean?

When you start up your vehicle, a series of warning lights usually come on, which should then go out when the vehicle is started. In some cases they may remain on for a few seconds.

If a light stays on it means there is a problem, a malfunction or an inefficiency of one of the parts controlled by the on-board system.

One of the most common situations is the engine failure light on, an alarm that indicates a generic problem and is represented by the engine fault symbol. When the yellow engine light stays on, it means that the fault could be serious, so it is essential to contact a specialised workshop as soon as possible, to have the vehicle checked and avoid serious breakdowns or drops in performance.

There are a number of issues that can cause an engine system failure, including:

  • a malfunction in the injection system
  • an anomaly in the accelerator pedal
  • an issue related to the exhaust system

A common cause for the yellow engine warning light is dirty fuel, especially if it occurs after a refuelling. This can happen when the tank is empty, as the new fuel will move the sediments on the bottom of the tank.

Engine failure warning light turning on and off intermittently

If the engine warning light turns on and off intermittently this is an indication of an issue.

This could be a more serious situation than the previous ones, so it is even more important to consult a professional immediately when you see the warning light one. Avoid driving and book an appointment for a check as soon as possible.

The warning could be caused by an anti-pollution device, used in older vehicle models before it was replaced by particulate filters (FAP).

Thanks to a series of chemical reactions, this component applied to the exhaust system attracts harmful particles released by the combustion of the fuel, so that they are not released into the atmosphere. The sensors located in this system communicate information to the control unit, and an incorrect reading could cause various anomalies.

The main risk is an increase in consumption and polluting emissions, which results in a rather significant loss of efficiency. The malfunction may also endanger the operation of the vehicle, as the control unit may decide that the parameters are excessive and in fact compromise the vehicle's speed. With an incorrect calculation of the air / fuel mixture it is possible that the vehicle comes to a complete stop, forcing you to call roadside assistance.

Engine warning light on: what should I do?

If the warning light turns on then off when you start up your vehicle, under normal conditions this is ok, and there are no issues so you can continue driving. 

If your engine warning light is flashing or turning on and off intermittently, then it’s essential to have your vehicle checked by an expert as it could be a problem with the vehicle’s emission control device.

With the light on steady there can be a number of causes, not all serious, but it’s still advised to contact a specialised workshop. 

A rare occurrence for the light turning on can be something broken with the light itself. However, on most occasions there is a problem, even if you don't notice anything out of the ordinary while driving. For example, there may be a failure in the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valves, impossible to perceive, or an error in measuring the temperature, also a diagnosis that requires the use of special control systems and not visible to the naked eye or audible.

To reduce the risk of the engine warning light coming on suddenly it is essential to always carry out your vehicle’s servicing within the indicated times. At least one check-up per year of the vehicle is recommended. 

This will also increase the useful life of the vehicle and the various components, a useful behaviour to save money, respect the environment and avoid being left with a broken down vehicle on the side of the road.

With LeasePlan an engine warning light turning on will no longer be a problem you have to worry about. Just contact LeasePlan and make an appointment to check up your vehicle and  you’ll soon be back on the road with complete peace of mind at no additional cost.