INTERACTIVE TROUBLE SHOOTING -
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TROUBLE SHOOTING - Warning Lights and Gauges

SYMPTOM: THE ENGINE QUICKLY OVERHEATS

Description of problem: The engine seems to run fine but gets very hot shortly after you start it. This problem normally occurs after only five minutes of running or after traveling about a mile. You may also notice steam coming from the hood or smell something hot. This type of problem is slow to develop but gets worse the longer you drive. Once the engine begins to get too hot, turn it off or further damage will occur.

PROBABLE CAUSES:

  • The engine's coolant level may be too low.
  • The engine's drive belts may be broken or slipping.
  • The electric cooling fan may not be coming on.
  • The ignition timing may be set wrong.
  • There may be a vacuum leak.
  • The engine may have mechanical problems.
  • The engine's thermostat may be stuck closed.
  • There may be a leak in the cooling system.
  • The engine's head gasket may be leaking.

SYMPTOM: ONE OR ALL OF THE CAR'S GAUGES DO NOT WORK

Description of problem: Your gas gauge or other gauge does not show a reading. Sometimes this problem causes all of the gauges not to work, other times the problem only affects one gauge. This type of problem normally happens suddenly.

PROBABLE CAUSES:

  • There is a loose connection somewhere in the gauge circuit.
  • There is corrosion in one of the electrical connectors.
  • The sending unit for the gauge is faulty.
  • The gauge is faulty (this is an unlikely cause if all of the gauges are affected).
  • The fuse for the gauges is bad.
  • The instrument panel voltage regulator is bad.

SYMPTOM: A WARNING LIGHT STAYS ON

Description of problem: All warning lamps light when you start the car. After the engine is running, all of these lights go off except one. No matter what you do or how you drive, the light remains on. Normally this problem appears gradually with occasional lamp lighting while driving. However the problem can occur suddenly.

PROBABLE CAUSES:

  • Loose or disconnected electrical connector.
  • The sending unit for the warning light is faulty.
  • There is a problem in the system monitored by the warning light, and this needs to be corrected in order to put out the lamp.

SYMPTOM: THE BRAKE WARNING LIGHT STAYS ON

Description of problem: All warning lamps light when you start the car. After the engine is running, all of these lights go off except the brake light. You try to turn the light off by playing with the parking brake, but the light remains on. No matter what you do or how you drive, the light remains on. Normally this problem occurs suddenly.

PROBABLE CAUSES:

  • The parking brake is not releasing completely.
  • The switch at the parking brake is bad.
  • The brake fluid level is low.
  • There is a leak in the hydraulic brake system.

SYMPTOM: A WARNING LIGHT COMES ON WHILE DRIVING

Description of problem: All warning lamps are off, then suddenly one or more comes on. You notice nothing different about how the engine is running. You may notice that the light or lights come on with an increase of speed. Normally this type of problem is evident occassionally and becomes more consistent as the problem gets worse.

PROBABLE CAUSES:

  • Loose or disconnected electrical connector.
  • The sending unit for the warning light is faulty.
  • A drive belt on the engine is loose or damaged.
  • There is a problem in the system monitored by the warning light and this needs to be corrected in order to put out the lamp.

SYMPTOM: YOUR ALTERNATOR, GENERATOR, OR BATTERY LIGHT COMES ON WHILE DRIVING

Description of problem: These names are the different names used by the different car manufacturers. They all monitor the same system, the charging system. If this light stays on regardless of how fast you run the engine, there is a problem. Sometimes a drive belt will squeal when the light is on. In most cases, this problem becomes more evident as the problem gets worse.

PROBABLE CAUSES:

  • Your alternator is bad.
  • Your voltage regulator is bad.
  • The drive belt for the alternator is loose or broken.
  • There is a wiring problem in the charging circuit.

SYMPTOM: YOUR ENGINE OR OIL LIGHT COMES ON WHILE DRIVING

Description of problem: The oil light may be marked engine. If this is the case, this light and warning system monitors the water temperature of the engine in addition to the oil. If this light stays on regardless of how fast you run the engine, there is a serious problem. Sometimes the light will come on when the engine is idling and go out when the engine's speed is increased. In most cases, this problem becomes more evident as the problem gets worse.

PROBABLE CAUSES:

  • The engine has lost oil pressure or has low oil pressure (this is a serious problem that should be repaired at once).
  • The oil pressure sending unit is bad.
  • The engine is extremely low on oil.
  • The engine is overheating.

SYMPTOM: YOUR CHECK ENGINE OR SERVICE ENGINE LIGHT COMES ON OR STAYS ON

Description of problem: This is an area of much confusion since most manufacturers, until recently, have called this light by different names. This light also adds to confusion because the manufacturers have different systems that are monitored by this light circuit. In most cases, this warning light is part of the electronic engine control circuit. When the light comes on, it means that the car's computer has detected something wrong in the control system. The lamp remains lit until the problem is corrected. However on some systems, this light simply means there is a problem. The check engine or service engine light may suddenly come on and remain on, or it may come on and go out after a period of time.

PROBABLE CAUSES:

  • The engine's computer has detected a problem in the system.
  • The engine has a serious problem that should be repaired at once.
  • The engine's oil pressure is exteremely low.
  • The engine is overheating.

SYMPTOM: TRANSMISSION OVERHEATS

Description of problem: You notice a smell from the transmission after you have driven it for awhile. You may also notice some slippage while driving it. When you check the fluid level of the transmission, the fluid smells burnt.

PROBABLE CAUSES:

  • The fluid level in the transmission is low.
  • The transmission's oil vents are clogged with dirt or undercoating.
  • Your transmission oil cooler is bad.
  • The thermostat in your transmission is bad.
  • The wrong type of fluid was put in your transmission, or the fluid is contaminated.
  • There is an internal problem in the transmission.
  • Your transmission fluid is clogged and needs to be replaced.
  • You have an engine problem.

Troubleshooting infomation from Auto Site.

 

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