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What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?

One of the most usually misunderstood lights or indicators in your Toyota 4Runner is the check engine light. The check engine light is part of the important onboard diagnostics system, and displays in a variety of different ways. It can say "Check Engine", it can be a symbol of an engine, it can even be a combination of both. This light illuminates in either an amber or red color and is part of the diagnostics system found on your car. Onboard computers increasingly have controlled and monitored car performance since the 80s and do a variety of things for your Toyota 4Runner. Some of these essential duties include shifting automatic transmissions ignition timing, controlling engine speed, and implementing cohesion control, just to name a few. With that being said, the check engine light can mean an assortment of different things. It can be as simple as your gas cap being loose or as perilous as engine knocking. If your check engine light is on in your Toyota 4Runner, contact Stevinson Toyota East. Contact Stevinson Toyota East today! Our Toyota service department can help you find out what code is turning your check engine light on or diagnose why your check engine light is flashing.

Check Engine Light Service Toyota 4Runner

What do you do when you’re driving along in your Toyota 4Runner and suddenly, a yellow light illuminates on your dash and says "Check Engine". If you’re like most Toyota owners, your heart sinks extremely because you may have specifically idea about what that light is trying to tell you or how you should react. The fear of the unknown (or the cost of the unknown) can be just as stressful. But take a deep, calm breath and realize the light coming on doesn’t mean you have to pull the vehicle over to the side of the road and call a tow truck, but it is advised that you get your Toyota 4Runner checked expeditiously. Ignoring that warning could end up causing major, huge damage to costly engine components.

When your Toyota 4Runner's ECM (electronic control module), which is the vehicle's onboard computer, finds a problem in the electronic control system that it can’t correct, a computer turns on your check engine light. This amber or yellow light is typically labeled “check engine” or “service engine soon”, or the light may be nothing more than a picture of an engine, or a picture of the engine with the word “check.”

When the light turns on, the ECM stores an engine code or “trouble code” in its memory that can quickly identify the issue, whether it's a sensor or a failing engine part. This code is read with an electronic scan tool that is used by our Toyota auto repair mechanics at Stevinson Toyota East. There are likewise a number of essentially inexpensive code readers that are designed for do-it-yourselfers, should you select that route too. While this code will tell you the issue that is detected, a true diagnosis still requires an experienced professional to determine the exactly correct issue and repair it.

Will the check engine light reset itself?

The check engine light on your Toyota 4Runner will normally shut itself off if the issue or code that caused it to turn on is fixed. For example, if the cause of your check engine light coming on was a loose gas cap, if it's tightened, the light will expeditiously turn itself off. Likewise, if your catalytic converter is working accurately, and you did a lot of stop-and-go driving, that may have turned on the check engine light due to the high usage of the converter. In most cases, your Toyota 4Runner light will go off after about 20-40 miles. If you drive over that amount and the light is still on, you will need to bring it in to Stevinson Toyota East so the light and code can be double-checked and reset.

Toyota 4Runner Check Engine Light Codes

The check engine light turning on can be quite intimidating, exceptionally to see that little light on your vehicle’s dashboard suddenly illuminate, but in reality, it is not something that should cause you to shut down in fear right away. If you hear the term, diagnostic trouble codes (DTC), these are just another name for check engine light codes. These are automotive computer codes stored by the ECM, also known as the OBD (on-board computer diagnostic system) in your 4Runner. There are hundreds of different codes that your check engine light can properly represent. While that sounds daunting, with a little patience, tackling basic diagnostics will give you helpful knowledge about your car and will also allow that vital Check Engine Light to do what it is really supposed to do: be your guide. Sadly, clear and useful car symptoms do not repeatedly accompany an illuminated Check Engine Light. Since there are hundreds of likely OBD codes, there are also hundreds of likely reasons for the light, including:

  • Old Battery
  • Bad Spark Plugs
  • Transmission issues
  • Fuel and air metering systems problems
  • Computer output circuit issues
  • Ignition system faults
  • O2 Sensor
  • Emissions controls issues
  • Loose Gas Cap or Missing Gas Cap

This is why it is important for someone who does not have a lot of prevalent automotive knowledge to not assume what a code means. Call Stevinson Toyota East at 7205139585 today or schedule your check engine light service online today! If the engine light comes on due to a serious concern, you risk damaging your car further by not repairing the issue right away. When your check engine light comes on, you should get it checked out instantly by a talented certified Toyota mechanic.

Is it safe to drive your Toyota 4Runner with the check engine light on?

If the check engine light is flashing, this means that there is a serious issue and it is advised to service your Toyota 4Runner expeditiously. This question is not very simple because it all depends on the severity of the issue. If the cause is a minor issue, such as a loose gas cap, it should be safe to drive. This is usually indicated by a steady glow of the check engine light. If you notice a difference in the performance of the vehicle, it could be an indication of a more serious problem. Call the experts at Stevinson Toyota East by dialing 7205139585 so you can describe the issues. Or lessen your speed and bring your Toyota to our certified mechanics as soon as conceivable.

How many miles can you drive with the check engine light?

If you check engine light is flashing, we advise that you pull over and contact Stevinson Toyota East to help determine if your car is secure to drive in or if we advise a tow truck. The safest bet is to decipher the code and then plan your strategy accordingly. Since each check engine code has its own level of severity, it is typically difficult to predict how many miles you can be secure in driving with the warning light on. It could be anything from a bad sensor to plug wires needing to be replaced.

Toyota 4Runner Check Engine Light

If the check engine light in your Toyota 4Runner starts flashing, that means that the problem needs attention promptly and your Toyota should be brought in quickly. A flashing light indicates that the problem is very serious and if not taken care of promptly may result in major and serious damage to the car. This blinking light ordinarily indicates a severe engine misfire allowing unburned fuel to be dumped into the exhaust system. There it can immediately raise the temperature of the catalytic converter to a point where damage is likely, requiring an costly and huge repair. Some owners ask if spark plugs cause the check engine light to flash? This can exactly be the cause. A defective, old or dirty spark plug can cause the engine to misfire. If your check engine light is regularly flashing, please contact our team of automotive experts at Stevinson Toyota East promptly by calling 7205139585. If the problem is totally ignored or you continue to drive, this can spread to the spark plug wires, catalytic converter, or ignition coils which can lead to a very pricey repair.

Toyota 4Runner Check Engine Light Flashing

Although there are countless potential causes of an illuminated Check Engine Light, we know from years of providing Check Engine Light Diagnosis Service that there are several common causes including something as simple as a loose gas cap. Other mostly common reasons for a Check Engine Light are faulty emissions control part, a malfunction with the fuel injection system, dirty mass airflow sensor, defective head gasket, damaged oxygen sensor, or faulty spark plugs to name a few. No matter what is the root cause of the Check Engine Light, we have the Toyota Certified Mechanics and the certified service protocol to isolate the root problem and absolutely repair it as required to restore factory specifications. When this happens, the Check Engine Light turns off, and you can leave the service center knowing that your Toyota issue was entirely fixed.

Every Toyota 4Runner was designed with a high-technology performance monitoring system with a computer, and a series of sensors positioned strategically throughout the vehicle on its critical systems. The fast sensors are continually detecting conditions while sending important data to the electronic control unit. If the electronic control unit detects that the data is out of factory specifications, the Check Engine Light illuminates telling you that there is a problem. Nonetheless, sadly that is the limitation of the Check Engine Light – it won’t tell you what exactly is wrong nor what to do about it. That’s where we come in; Stevinson Toyota East provides a Check Engine Light Diagnosis Service that isolates the core problem and gives you a recommendation on what to do next from a Very Qualified Service professional.

What could cause the check engine light to come on in a Toyota 4Runner?

When your check engine light comes on, this could be as simple as tightening or replacing your gas cap. Also, the check engine light could likewise be a warning of a serious problem that could cause serious damage to your engine and come with a hefty and expensive repair bill. Depending on your make and model, the check engine light will illuminate or blink. A steady and continuous glow ordinarily means something less serious but a flashing check engine light reveals that your vehicle’s engine is in serious trouble and useful service is needed quickly. If your check engine light is flashing in your Toyota 4Runner, we very endorse not to drive the vehicle and schedule Toyota service today. Below is a list of the most common reasons your check engine light can come on:

  • One of the most common and frequent cause is that your Toyota 4Runner gas cap is loose, damaged or missing. The gas cap for your Toyota 4Runner serves various purposes. It prevents unpredictable gas fumes from being released when you aren't driving, it seals the fuel system and helps maintain pressure within the fuel tank. What happens if you have a broken fuel cap? If your gas cap is old or has a ruptured seal, you can lose fuel through evaporation which will result in more trips to the pump and be more pricey. Luckily, to replace a gas cap isn't pricey. If your check engine light turns on swiftly after you put gas in your Toyota 4Runner, first thing you should check is to make sure the cap isn’t loose — or that it's still on your car’s roof or at the fuel pump.
  • Your O2 Sensor (Oxygen Sensor) needs to be replaced. The Oxygen sensor, known as the O2 sensor, measures the amount of oxygen in your exhaust system. If there is excess oxygen in your exhaust system, fuel burns more quickly and your vehicle will be less efficient when it comes to fuel economy. So what happens if I don’t replace your O2 sensor? A broken sensor can not only affect your miles per gallon, but it can cause serious damage to your catalytic converter and your Toyota 4Runner's spark plugs. The O2 sensor sends data to the vehicle’s onboard computer to determine the definitely correct combination of air and fuel that enters the cylinders in your engine. A broken O2 sensor can still cause a car to fail an emissions test.
  • Issues with any aftermarket items. An aftermarket alarm, exhaust or other item can wreak extreme havoc on your Toyota 4Runner if it’s not installed accurately. These aftermarket parts and accessories can drain the battery, trigger the check engine light, or even prevent the vehicle from starting. If these issues sound familiar, bring your 4Runner to Toyota and have our team of accomplished certified mechanics ensure that your aftermarket items were installed accurately and aren't causing any issue. Getting accessories, particularly aftermarket parts and accessories, or using OEM parts first place might cost a little bit more but could help you save considerably from having to get poor work and damage caused by poor installation work corrected.
  • Your mass airflow sensor (known as MAF) needs to be replaced. The mass airflow sensor in your Toyota 4Runner is what determines how much fuel is necessary to run your engine efficiently by measuring the amount of air entering the engine. As a part of the engine management system, the mass airflow sensor helps adjust to certain changes, like altitude. If your Toyota 4Runner is having trouble starting, idling rough or has a sudden speedy change in the position of the throttle pedal, this could be a vital sign of a broken mass airflow sensor.
  • Your Toyota 4Runner has a vacuum leak. Every Toyota 4Runner has a vacuum system that performs a wide variety of functions. The vacuum system still helps lower adverse emissions by routing the fumes as gasoline evaporates through the engine. If you notice that your RPM is high in idle or randomly surges, a vacuum leak could be the cause. Over time, vacuum hoses can dry out and crack, particularly if they’re exposed to intense heat or extreme cold.
  • The battery is low or dead. The battery in your Toyota 4Runner is every vital. Without a car battery, your car won’t start, light up the road ahead, play the radio or charge your phone. Today’s car batteries last much longer than they did a few decades ago, and they don't genuinely require maintenance. The price of a new one depends on the type of Toyota you drive, but check our current service coupons and specials.
  • New Spark Plugs or Plug Wires are necessary for your Toyota 4Runner. The spark plugs are the part of your engine that ignites the air/fuel combination in the combustion chamber of your vehicle. This explosion is what moves the pistons and makes the engine run smooth. The spark plug wires deliver the spark from the ignition coil to the spark plugs. If your spark plugs or spark plug wires are bad or old, you will experience a conspicuous poor performance and decreased power. In some extreme cases, your engine will have trouble starting or continuing to run. Worn spark plugs and plug wires can cause clogged catalytic converter or damage to ignition coils and O2 sensors, leading to more pricey repairs.
  • Your catalytic converter is bad or going bad. The catalytic converter is a part of your Toyota 4Runner’s exhaust system. The catalytic converter's function is to turn the carbon monoxide created by the combustion process into carbon dioxide. A damaged catalytic converter is frequently caused by repeatedly neglected maintenance, which is why Stevinson Toyota East offers a free multi-point inspection with every Toyota service. If you have an issue with your catalytic converter and don't get it repaired, your Toyota 4Runner will not pass an emissions test, show a lack of engine performance and will negatively affect your fuel economy. Your car may run at a higher temperature, too, which can cause other delicate problems from overheating.

How much does it cost to get the engine light checked?

The average cost for a check engine light diagnosis & testing is ordinarily between $88 and $111. The good news, Stevinson Toyota East offers completely complimentary multi-point inspections and free diagnostics, in most cases, to help determine the cause of your check engine light. The check engine light warns of issues ranging from a gas cap that's not accurately tightened to a more serious failure like a bad catalytic converter or a problem with one of the car's oxygen sensors, so it good to get the proper code reading and diagnosis.