The amber engine warning light, commonly known as the check engine light or engine management light (EML), is a universal indicator that something may be wrong with your vehicle’s engine or exhaust system.
When this light appears on your dashboard, it can be a source of concern, as it indicates a potential issue that requires your attention.
In this article, we’ll discuss the meaning of the amber engine warning light, common causes, and solutions, and how it can affect your vehicle’s performance and safety.
Table of Contents
Understanding the Amber Engine Warning Light
The amber engine warning light is designed to alert you to a potential issue with your car as early as possible to prevent further damage to the engine or other related parts.
The light typically appears when the car’s sensors detect a problem with your engine or another part of the running gear.
In most cases, the light operates on a color-coded basis, with an amber warning indicating a less severe issue that still requires attention.
Solid Amber Light
A solid amber engine warning light indicates a non-emergency issue that still needs attention. While it may not require immediate action, you should schedule an appointment with a mechanic as soon as possible to diagnose and address the problem.
Flashing Amber Light
A flashing amber engine warning light is more serious, often indicating an engine misfire or another issue that could cause damage to your vehicle’s catalytic converter.
In this case, you should reduce your speed, avoid putting excessive strain on the engine, and seek professional assistance as soon as possible.
Red Engine Warning Light
A red engine warning light is the most severe indication and suggests a critical issue that requires immediate attention.
If you see a red engine warning light, you should pull over to a safe location and arrange for your car to be towed to a nearby garage for inspection and repair.
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Common Causes of Amber Engine Warning Light
There are numerous potential triggers for the amber engine warning light. Here, we’ll discuss some of the most frequent causes and their corresponding solutions.
1. Emissions System Fault
The emissions system is crucial for reducing the pollutants released by your vehicle’s engine. Components such as the oxygen sensor and the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve play a vital role in managing emissions. A fault in any of these components can trigger the amber engine warning light.
The oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburned oxygen passing through the exhaust, which indicates whether the engine is burning too much or too little fuel.
A faulty oxygen sensor can cause the car to run too rich or too lean, leading to poor performance and increased emissions. Repairing this issue may involve reprogramming or recalibrating the engine control unit (ECU) or replacing the oxygen sensor.
Exhaust Gas Recirculation Valve (EGR)
The EGR valve helps reduce harmful emissions by recirculating a portion of the exhaust gases back into the engine for combustion. A clogged or malfunctioning EGR valve can cause the amber engine warning light to illuminate. Cleaning or replacing the EGR valve may be necessary to resolve this issue.
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2. Blocked Diesel Particulate Filter or Differential Pressure Sensor Fault
Diesel-powered cars often feature a diesel particulate filter (DPF) that removes harmful particles from the exhaust. However, the DPF can become blocked over time, restricting exhaust flow and triggering the amber engine warning light.
In some cases, the issue may be a faulty differential pressure sensor, which monitors the performance of the DPF. A professional mechanic can perform a forced regeneration or replace the sensor to fix the problem.
3. Mass Airflow Sensor
The mass airflow sensor (MAF) measures the amount of air entering the engine, allowing the ECU to determine the proper fuel-to-air ratio for optimal combustion.
A faulty MAF can result in poor engine performance and increased emissions, leading to the illumination of the amber engine warning light. Cleaning or replacing the MAF may be required to address this issue.
4. Ignition System Fault
A malfunctioning ignition system in a petrol car can trigger the amber engine warning light. This could be due to issues with the spark plugs, spark plug leads, or ignition coils.
Replacing the faulty components can help resolve the problem and prevent further damage.
5. Loose Petrol or Diesel Filler Cap
A loose or missing fuel filler cap can cause the amber engine warning light to appear. This seemingly minor issue can result in reduced fuel efficiency and increased emissions.
Simply tightening or replacing the fuel cap can often fix the problem and reset the warning light.
Will My Car Pass Its MOT with an Amber Engine Warning Light?
In 2018, stricter MOT rules were introduced, meaning that any car undergoing an MOT test with an illuminated amber engine warning light would automatically fail.
Therefore, it’s essential to address the issue causing the light to appear before taking your car for an MOT test.
How to Reset the Amber Engine Warning Light
In some cases, resolving the issue causing the amber engine warning light may not immediately reset the light. You may need to take your car to a professional mechanic who can use diagnostic equipment to clear the error code and reset the warning light.
Alternatively, you can purchase your own vehicle diagnostic reader to perform the reset yourself, but it’s advisable to seek professional help for accurate diagnosis and repair.
Preventive Measures and Maintenance Tips
To minimize the chances of encountering an amber engine warning light, regular maintenance and preventive measures are essential. These include:
- Regularly checking and topping up engine oil and coolant levels
- Replacing air filters and fuel filters as recommended by the manufacturer
- Ensuring the fuel filler cap is tightly secured after refueling
- Regularly servicing your vehicle according to the manufacturer’s guidelines
- Addressing any warning lights or performance issues promptly
Is it safe to drive with an amber engine light?
It is generally not recommended to continue driving with an amber engine light, also known as the check engine light, as it indicates a problem with the engine or emissions system that requires attention.
Ignoring the light may lead to potential risks and expensive damage in the long run. Causes of the yellow check engine light include engine, transmission, emissions equipment, and ignition system problems.
While the yellow engine light indicates a less urgent issue than a flashing light, it still requires prompt attention. It is advisable to visit a certified dealership for diagnosis and repair as soon as possible.
How do I clear my Amber engine light?
Clearing the amber engine light requires identifying and fixing the problem that caused the light to come on. Simply clearing the light without addressing the underlying issue is not recommended, as it can lead to potential risks and expensive damage in the long run.
That being said, there are various ways to reset the check engine light, including disconnecting the battery for 30-60 seconds, cycling the ignition, or using an OBD2 scanner. However, if the light comes back on after resetting, it means there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Why is my engine light on but nothing seems wrong?
The engine light may come on due to a variety of reasons, and not all of them indicate a serious issue with the car’s performance. However, it’s essential to address the problem promptly as it could lead to expensive damage in the long run.
A loose fuel cap is one of the most common reasons for the check engine light to turn on. Other reasons could be a faulty oxygen sensor, catalytic converter failure, spark plug or ignition coil problems, bad spark plug wires, mass airflow sensor failure, aftermarket alarm problems, vacuum leak, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve failure, or a dead battery.
You can retrieve a fault code to determine the underlying issue. lists faulty oxygen sensors, spark plug or coil issues, mass airflow sensor faults, catalytic converter problems, and loose petrol cap as the most common causes.
If the engine light stays on, even if there are no noticeable problems with the car’s performance, it suggests that there might be an issue with the car’s emissions system that requires attention.
Will it damage my car to drive with check engine light on?
It is not recommended to drive with the check engine light on for an extended period of time as it can potentially cause damage to your car.
The check engine light is an indication that there is something wrong with your car, and if left unchecked, it can lead to more serious problems.
Driving with the check engine light on can also impact your car’s performance and fuel efficiency. It’s best to have your car diagnosed and repaired as soon as possible to avoid any further damage and ensure your car is running smoothly.
An amber engine warning light is a clear indication that something is amiss with your vehicle’s engine or exhaust system.
While it may not always signal an emergency, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible to prevent further damage and ensure your vehicle’s safety and efficiency.
Regular maintenance and prompt attention to any warning signs can help minimize the occurrence of amber engine warning lights and keep your car running smoothly.