A malfunction indicator light is a computerized engine-management system uses to signify a malfunction. Found on the instrument panel of most automobiles, it usually allows a pictogram of an engine – and when illuminated it is typically either an amber or red color.
The light generally has two stages: steady (indicating a slight fault) and flashing (indicating a major fault). When the malfunction indicator light is lit, the engine control unit stores a fault code related to the malfunction, which can be recovered – although in many models this involves the use of a scan tool.
Types of lights
Some of those malfunction indicator lights include:
- Transmission Temperature Warning Indicator Light
- Battery/Charging System Warning Indicator Light
- Brake System Warning Indicator Light
- Service Engine Soon Warning Indicator Light
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Warning Indicator Light
- Coolant Temperature Warning Indicator Light
- Reduced Power Warning Indicator Light
Types of Problems
The Malfunction Indicator Light can signal different types of problems.
- Occasional flashes signify temporary engine malfunctions. In this case, it is good to be aware of the possible forthcoming matters which can later on turn to more severe ones.
- The most common case is when the indicator light stays on continually. It represents more serious problem that needs action to be taken; the sooner the better. Yet, sometimes the issues are not that major but can affect the emissions of the vehicle.
- The most serious type of signaling is when the malfunction indicator lightflashes all the time. It indicates that your vehicle’s engine is misfiring. The issue is a severe one and you should stop the engine immediately to avoid serious damage. For instance, it may cause the catalytic converter to overheat and even burn.
What malfunction indicator light represents?
If the Malfunction Indicator Light comes on, this could be a sign of several things. Many of which will vary depending on the model of the vehicle and the manufacturer’s specifications. The purpose of this warning light is to alert the driver of a problem within the engine or transmission, or to signal that planned maintenance is necessary for the vehicle. There are several indicator lights on the dashboard intended to communicate to the driver that attention to a particular area is required.
What malfunction indicator light can do?
The Malfunction Indicator Light most often is an indication that there has been a major engine or transmission malfunction and a diagnostic trouble code has been stored by the Power-train Control Module (PCM). The diagnostic trouble code is used by certified technicians to locate the problem and problem area in order to appropriately and efficiently make necessary repairs. The Malfunction Indicator Light should not be overlooked and should be addressed as soon as possible. While some diagnostic trouble codes signify a more serious issue than others, it is possible that a less severe issue will worsen or cause damage to other engine mechanism if they are overlooked for an extended period of time.
What to do?
If the Malfunction Indicator Light is on in your dashboard, make an appointment with a certified technician to have it diagnosed and repaired.