Subaru of Wakefield

618 North Ave
Directions Wakefield, MA 01880

  • Sales: (888) 672-2184
  • Service: (866) 479-5578
  • Parts: (866) 510-6675

New England's Largest Subaru Dealer


Subaru of Wakefield Check Engine Lights

Check Engine Lights:

There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what to do when the check engine light in your Subaru

comes on.  The check engine light, often referred to in literature as the MIL for "malfunction indicator

light", comes on when there is something going on with the vehicle that would keep it from passing

an emission test.  As a matter of fact, it is actually the computer in your car that does the

emissions test.  When you go for your state test the test facility plugs their computer into

yours to confirm that all of the systems that are tested have indeed been tested and that the

computer has not been tampered with.

There are many things that will cause the check engine light to come on but it doesn't exactly

mean that there is something wrong with the engine.  For instance, running the engine low on oil

does not turn the check engine light on until the low oil level causes some other malfunction

such as a valve timing solenoid (that is operated by oil pressure) to malfunction.  Letting the

engine oil level get this low is very bad for the engine and is either an indication that it has

been too long between oil changes or there is an issue, such as a leak, causing the engine to use


When the check engine light does come on the cruise control light will blink indicating that the

cruise control has been disabled and the vehicle's dynamic stability control light will come on

indicating that it also has been disabled.  There is no reason to panic and it is okay to keep

driving the car.

Many of the things that turn the check engine light on cause no drivability issues at all, the

check engine light is the only indication there is a problem.  Some of the things that turn the

check engine light, such as a knock sensor or Oxygen sensor, may cause subtle drivability issues

and certainly will affect fuel mileage.  The bottom line is that in these situations, although it

is okay to drive the car, the check engine light should not be ignored.

 If the check engine light is flashing it means that one or more of the engine's cylinders are

misfiring.  It should be obvious to the operator that something is wrong with the car and when

this is happening the car should not be driven any further than necessary or damage to the

catalytic converter will occur.

Intermittent misfire codes can be one of the most difficult diagnostic challenges to solve.  The

first lesson in auto-engine 101 is that an engine needs properly synchronized fuel, spark and

compression to run.  The misfire occurs when one or more of these three things don't happen

when it is supposed to.

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