Engines are the heart and soul of cars. Once your engine is faulty, then the vehicle won't be able to move. Usually, when something isn't right with your engine, the check engine light comes on. But if you're concerned about cold or hot weather causing your check engine light to come on, you're in the right place. We asked experts in the automotive industry, and they gave us informative answers.
Yes, extreme hot or cold weather can cause your check engine light to come on. Sensors in the vehicle can malfunction due to temperature fluctuations. These temperature fluctuations can cause the failure of fuel indicators, ignition coils, or a weak battery.
Vehicles don't have complicated engines. Once you understand what to expect in extreme weather, you won't panic if the check engine indicator comes on. Continue reading as we explain what you should do to protect and care for your car engine in extreme weather.
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What Extreme Weather Does To The Engine
Temperature fluctuations disrupt a vehicle's ability to function well. Sometimes the vehicle will need some time to readjust. Sensors that warn you of any irregularities might go haywire. Sensors are supposed to be sensitive and send signals to the dashboard to indicate something isn't right.
In cold weather, everything tends to freeze or congeal. It includes any fluids in vehicles. You might get surprised if the check engine light comes on unexpectedly.
As the car battery works harder in cold weather, the engine will be slow to start or won't start at all. The check engine light will come on to indicate that there's a problem.
When it's cold, the pressure in the vehicle tires will decrease. The engine light will light up due to this as well.
The hot months can turn out to be hotter, and your vehicle will feel the heat. The vehicle's cooling system should be in good working order to avoid the engine from overheating.
When the cooling system isn't functioning well, the sensors will malfunction. Fuel injectors and the ignition coil will fail and the check engine light come on.
Ensure that your vehicle stays cool in hot weather to keep its components working well.
What Causes The Engine Light To Come On
The weather can't always cause the check engine light to come on. There are other times the check engine light comes on. The most common reasons include:
A Faulty Oxygen Sensor
The oxygen sensor helps regulate the fuel to air ratio in the engine. The sensor ensures that the oxygen fuel mixture stays optimal with each milage to reduce emissions. If the sensor is faulty, the check engine light will come on.
Moisture In The Modules
When it snows or rains a lot, snow or water might get to the engine. The check engine light will come on to prompt you to have a look. Ensure that you dry any water or moisture that might be on the engine before you start it.
Malfunctioning Catalytic Converter
The catalytic converter converts toxic gases and pollutants into less toxic ones. When the catalytic converter is damaged, it won't remove these dangerous gases from the internal combustion engine. Automatically, the check engine light will illuminate.
Loose Gas Caps
Open or loose gas caps allow gasoline fumes to escape the gas tank. It is dangerous! The pressure in the gas tank must remain constant for the engine system to work well. If the gas cap is loose or open, there's is a disbalance of pressure in the gas tank.
Faulty Spark Plugs
The ignition coil generates electricity when the engine starts. The spark plugs will ignite the air-fuel mixture. The engine could misfire if the spark plugs are cold, old, or wet. Faulty spark plugs will cause the check engine light to come on on your dashboard.
Note: Spark plugs aren't in diesel engines.
How To Turn Off Check Engine Light
Turning off the engine light means you have found the cause of the problem and resolved it. The light will keep flashing to indicate a serious problem. But when the check light comes on while you are driving and doesn't flash, resolve the issue when you get to your destination.
Using A Scan Tool
As soon as the computer in your car finds a problem and warns you via the check light, get a scan tool. A scan tool will read the codes and pinpoint the exact problem in your vehicle. Ensure that you invest in a scan tool to save you unnecessary trips to the mechanic shop.
The scan tool is easy to use, and most vehicle owners are advised to have one at hand always.
Here is a video that shows you how to use a scan tool:
You could opt for other simpler ways to turn off the check engine light without a scan tool. Use these techniques only if you are sure there's nothing wrong with your vehicle:
- Turn on the ignition and disconnect the negative cable on the vehicle battery. Touch the negative cable to the battery thrice, then put it back on. It should turn off the check engine light when you turn on the car.
- Alternatively, disconnect both the negative and positive cables on the battery. Alternate them and put them back on. The positive cable should be on the negative part of the battery and vice versa. Leave them like this for 15 minutes then put them back as they should. The check engine light shouldn't light after this maneuver.
- Use the no key method. First, disconnect the negative cable for the battery. Press the vehicle horn for 15 seconds, then release. Connect the negative cable back onto the battery. The light shouldn't come on.
Note: These techniques work best for older car models. Don't use them if you aren't sure of the vehicle's condition to avoid irreparable damage!
How To Maintain Your Engine
An engine that runs smoothly consumes less fuel and doesn't overtask your vehicle generally.
Proper maintenance of your engine keeps your vehicle on the road. Here are some tips on how to ensure that the heart of your vehicle is ever in good working order:
- Good driving skills: Go easy on your engine. Be sure-footed and try not to stop suddenly when driving.
- Never ignore the check engine light: Once the light comes on, check what could be wrong immediately.
- Check the oils and fluids in your car: Engine oil, coolant, fluids for the clutch, brake, transmission, and differential, must always be there. Avoid the fluids in your vehicle drying out. This could cause damage to engine components in extreme weather conditions (hot or cold).
- Replace filters: Check the air and fuel filters. They shouldn't be clogged or have any build-up in them.
- Working vehicle cooling and heating systems: The engine and the vehicle in general, should maintain a constant temperature. Overheating or freezing temperatures can damage the car's components. Ensure that the cooling and heating systems are working properly all year round.
- Replace spark plugs, wires, and belts as often as it's required. These little things could make or break your engine.
- Check for leaks: When you notice leaks when the vehicle is stationary, attend to them right away. It might be brake or engine oil, which is necessary for the engine.
- Avoid using reserved engine oil: When you constantly use the reserved oil, you might have sediments getting to the engine. Keep the reserve engine oil clean.
Know Your Engine
There are several types of engines, and it's worth having an idea about them. The three main types consist of the following:
- Physical engines: These three types rely on stored mechanical energy.
- Pneumatic engines
- Hydraulic engines
- Clockwise engines
- Thermal engines: These are further divided into three classifications.
- Internal combustion
- External combustion
- Reaction Engines
- Electrical engines: You'll find two categories here.
- Ion drives
- EM or Cannae drives
You should be familiar with the type of engine your vehicle has. This way, you'll understand how to effectively maintain it. Much more as maintenance is compulsory and a standard procedure for all engine types.
Cold and hot weather will affect the functions of your vehicle and cause the engine light to illuminate. Don't ignore the check engine light.
Ensure that your engine is well maintained. If the check engine light comes on unexpectedly, turn it off. Be sure to run a diagnostic check or seek the help of an expert at a service center.
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