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Last night I had my service engine soon light come on. it is not flashing, it just comes on and stayed on. never happened before. the car runs ok, like it always has, no jerking or stalling, but i am overdue for an oil change. can you help me troubleshoot this? Lisa , New York

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Colleen McGee, Driving Instructor at Americas Driving School Lisa, you guessed right. The "service engine soon" light comes on when you are a certain amount of miles over a scheduled oil change. The technician who does the oil change should reset the light. Your owners manual also should give you instructions on how to reset the light. I sometimes reset mine in my driving school car, if I can't get in for an oil change right away, just so my students aren't wondering why the light comes on! Happy Driving! Colleen

Georgia Brown, Director of Education at National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA) Lisa, I am not sure what make or model car you have, but some cars today have this programed in at certain milage intervals to remind you to service your car on a regular basis. This light can come on sometimes if the gas cap was not replaced correctly after you filled up with gas. I would recommend go ahead and get that oil change and let the technicians there trouble shoot it for you. Georgia Brown NIADA

Stephanie Gutierrez, Marketing at Victory Auto Service & Glass Hi Lisa, Your SES light can come on for many different reasons. It is good that the light is not flashing as that indicates an immediate and more important repair is needed. The SES light often times comes on for reasons associated with your vehicle’s emission controls or "pollution controls" and not for safety items. The light has nothing to do with the need for an oil change. Once this light comes on the computer stores a trouble code that can be easily retrieved with a special tool. Many shops provide a ‘free’ trouble code reading. This reading will provide you with basic information and not likely provide the source of the problem - only the area of the problem. During this reading they can likely "clear" this code out for you as well, and I would encourage you to have that done. You should record the info that you are provided with (for future reference), and consider driving the vehicle for several days to see if the light comes back on or if it was just a random glitch. If the light comes back on during this time then a professional will have to do further testing and evaluation to provide you with the source of the problem. Best wishes! Stephanie

Amanda J. Pierce, MBA Hi Lisa, Thank You for writning into AskPatty! To address your concern, typically you can visit your local auto parts store and they can check the code on why your Check Engine light is on. This will give you more of a direction on why it is on! Hope this Helps A. J. Valle

Judy Curry, Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing at Currys Auto Service Hi Lisa, No doubt, your vehicle's computer is reminding you to get that oil change! I highly recommend that you get this service done asap to keep your car running efficiently and to prevent any costly repairs that may happen if your car is not properly maintained. Proper maintenance will save you money in the long run! Thanks for your question!

Kerri Papajohn, Marketing Director at USA Sealants, Inc. Lisa, You are due for an oil change most likely but it wouldn't hurt to have a shop look at this and read your code (they have the proper technical equipment to do this). I'd make sure it is a full service shop (some quick lubes are full service and some are not) just in case they charge you a diagnostic fee. If it isn't an oil issue then that fee (if applies) can be subtracted from the different service performed at this shop.

Kristin Brocoff, Director of Corporate Communications at Lisa, no need to panick. If it's the "Service Engine Soon" or "Maintenance Required" light it may be as simple as your dealer telling you it's time to come in for a service. Check your manual to read about the light. If it's truly the "Check Engine" light, also called the Malfunction Indicator Light, it could be something as simple as a loose/damaged gas cap or a spark plug. If it doesn't fix itself after your next fill up and you're getting poor gas mileage, I recommend having it diagnosed with a product like the CarMD Vehicle Health System (you can do it from home in a few minutes) or have it checked out by a trusted mechanic/repair shop/dealership. Best, Kristin Brocoff Corp.

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