Car warning lights


my mother just called me and said her 1997 honda civic, engine light came on. how do I turn it off? I once heard that the engine light comes on just becasue the dealer wants to serves it is that true?



The check engine light indicates a trouble code, and if flashing means something imminent is wrong. It could be as simply as an unscrewed fuel cap however is likely something else. Any independent garage or dealer can perform a diagnostic that includes reading the code from computer (simple) and giving the likely fix based on their experience. Once the problem is addressed the light will no longer illuminate.


There are some newer cars that have a Service Engine Lights (SEL). They are not controlled by the dealer, but by the manufacturer and/or the car. They generally mean it is time for an oil change. Some do it just by miles others are more advanced and take other factors into consideration. I don’t believe your car has one of these.

What you are seeing is the CEL (Check Engine Light). When it comes on it means the cars computer had detected a problem. It could be almost anything. If it is flashing it is something serious and unless you want suffer serious damage to your car and maybe you, you pull over to the side of the road right were you are and turn the engine off. Driving to the next exit could be a very expensive error and you might not get there.

The CEL and the SEL, if you have one, are explained in your owner’s manual, which is why you want to have one, even if it is a used car and you want to read it cover to cover.

 That CEL (check engine light) is just a kid in class waving her hand trying to get you attention because she has the answer. You need to have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code not just their translation into English and post it back here. 

 Note, you are under no obligation to bring your car back to the dealer.  Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car.  They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies.  They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent. 

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee. 

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic.