Malfunction in your car’s emissions system – now what?

August 18, 2022

Emissions malfunction

Bad news and good news: you can’t fix such an emissions malfunction yourself. However, you can continue driving when the engine management light is on, but you have to take your car to the garage. Because remember: your car emits more harmful gases than normal.

What happens in the event of an emission system failure?

When the light came on, you may have noticed that the engine held back for a moment, or that it doesn’t run as well as before. But you can still drive. Listen and feel if the engine is running normally. If you don’t notice anything abnormal, you can continue driving calmly. If the engine is not running properly – perhaps it has gone into emergency mode – then, of course, contact your garage or a roadside assistance service immediately.

Light off again after emissions system failure?

The challenged light indicates a malfunction in the engine management system – which controls all systems around the engine – including the emissions system. The warning light illuminates both after a short-term malfunction and when the malfunction persists. Even when the fault seems to have disappeared on its own, the light remains on. That alone probably makes you feel anxious as a driver. Therefore, go to the garage, because you cannot turn off the light yourself.

What was that emissions system failure?

You can’t tell what the problem is from the lit light. It may be that due to some cause, the engine made a miss, causing the emission values to exceed the limits for a very short time. You don’t even have to have noticed it. It is also possible that the engine’s ignition adjustment has been disrupted and the engine is no longer running properly, resulting in non-compliant emission readings. Maybe there is something with the catalytic converter or the lambda probe (some cars have separate lights for that too), or a damaged sensor. The fact is that the emission values have risen above a certain limit. The result is the same: the light is on, which is irritating.

Have the garage “read” the emissions malfunction

Then there is only one thing you can do: go to the garage and have your car “read out. Every modern car from 2001 onwards is equipped with a connection for a computer. This allows the mechanic to look into your car’s on-board computer (the ECU or Electronic Control Unit) with the appropriate computer programs (On Board Diagnostics or OBD). In it, all kinds of things were recorded about the technology and its functioning. That means he also gets an idea of what the failure was, what caused it and what the remedy is. At the same time, it can “reset” the car so that the light just goes out again after starting.

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