Vehicle Communication

Today’s cars seem to be driven, not so much by the driver, but by savvy, innovative technology. Our cars and trucks are equipped with cameras, a number of fancy buttons, digital gauges and odometers. Our vehicles “talk” to us with beeping noises, flashing or glowing lights. Communication with our vehicles has definitely progressed over the years. One display symbol that hasn’t changed too much, but tells us something important, is the check engine light. When we do see that check engine light, it’s not a pleasant feeling!

Why is my Ford check engine light on?

Since pretty much the entire vehicle is monitored by technology, even an innocent occurrence can be misconstrued for something much more serious, triggering the check engine light to go on. For instance, pumping gas into the tank while the car is running could cause the light to come on because the system may interpret it as a leak since the gas cap is off.

Ford Codes

If you’re lucky enough to have a code appear with the check engine light, you may be able to decipher what is going on. Here are a few reads for some of the most common Ford check engine light codes.

  • P1039 Vehicle Speed Signal Missing or Improper

    When you see this code appear it’s telling you that there is a faulty vehicle speed sensor. Inspect the wiring harness and connectors. Also check for damaged or corroded terminals.

  • P1051 Brake Switch Signal Missing or Improper

    Check to make sure the switch isn’t out of position and that the electrical connection is firmly attached. You can usually find the brake light switch under the dash, near the top of the brake pedal. If the switch is damaged a replacement is pretty simple.

  • P1112 Intake Air Temperature Sensor Intermittent

    These numbers mean that there is a problem with the sensor measuring the intake air temperature. Try replacing the air filter and cleaning the air flow sensors first. This may very well do the trick. If the light reappears, you may need to replace the mass airflow sensor, but check with an expert to determine the problem.

  • P1120 Throttle Position Sensor Out of Range

    This code indicates that the actual position of the throttle plate does not match the desired position. This is important because the engine’s performance depends on precise control of the throttle plate. The throttle plate regulates the amount of air that goes into the engine based on the driver’s accelerator pedal.

  • P1124 Throttle Position Sensor Out of Self-Test Range

    When the vehicle is idle, if the throttle position sensor detects a return voltage that is above or below expected value, this light will go on. The throttle position sensor harness could be open or shorted out or there could be a poor electrical connection.

  • P1139 Water In Fuel Indicator Circuit Malfunction

    The water’s purpose in fuel sensor is to screen the fuel that passes through it to make sure that ethanol and other contaminants do not go over a certain percentage. If it does, this code will appear. A few reasons this may happen is a worn fuel filter or contaminated fuel. The severity of the damage may vary, and you should get it checked out before it gets worse.

  • P1170 ESO - Engine Shut Off Solenoid Fault

    A fuel shut off solenoid is part of a diesel engine’s combustion system. It cuts the fuel supply to turn off the engine when the key is turned to the off position.  This code means that the solenoid responsible for shutting the engine has a problem. The problem could be caused by a flawed ignition switch or lock cylinder.

  • P1183 Engine Oil Temperature Circuit Malfunction

    The engine is most likely not at operating temperature when you see this code appear. It could also be due to a poor electrical connection to the sensor.

  • P1213 Start Injector Circuit Malfunction

    When the Start Injector is not to factory specification, this code will go on. A weak electrical connection or flawed Start Injector could be the problem.

Other potential issues...

Unfortunately there will be times when the check engine light is on due to much more serious problems. Some of those problems may include:

  • Failure of mass airflow sensor

    The mass airflow sensor monitors how much air gets into a vehicle’s fuel injection engine and sends that information to the engine control unit. If something happens to the mass airflow sensor the engine could stall or the vehicle might jerk during acceleration and can even reduce gas mileage.

  • Failure of catalytic converter

    A catalytic converter is part of the vehicle’s exhaust system. It is a metal canister that helps to convert the vehicle’s emissions into gasses that aren’t harmful. If your catalytic converter isn’t working right you might hear a rattling noise from under the vehicle or get a sulfur smell from the exhaust. It can also prevent your vehicle from passing the emissions test.

  • Faulty aftermarket alarm

    If you had an alarm installed after purchasing the vehicle and it wasn’t done correctly, it can drain the battery and cause the check engine light to go on.

If the check engine light is flashing, that is an indication of a serious problem. The engine has either misfired or some of the cylinders aren’t working right. This can be dangerous and you should look into getting the vehicle serviced immediately.

As much as it may seem that technology is the enemy right about now, technology is what will help us resolve the issue. Through our service center, you’ll have access to state-of-the-art equipment that will decipher the problem.

FREE Check Engine Light Diagnostic Testing

Houska Automotive offers free check engine light diagnostic testing to decode any numbers that may have appeared on your dashboard. We’ll find out in a timely manner what the check engine light is telling you. Once we understand the problem, we’ll get you in for an appointment to take care of it

Houska Automotive will educate and alleviate the problem

A check engine light might alert you that something is wrong and may even tell you with codes what the problem is, however, it’ll never provide the service that a professional auto technician can. If all those codes and parts seem completely foreign, we’re here to explain it all to you. We’ll help you decipher the codes, clarify how all the parts work, describe what went wrong and most importantly–get it resolved.

What’s the difference between the check engine light and service engine light?

There are two different lights that go on to indicate that your vehicle needs attention; one is the check engine light, the other is the service engine light. The less serious one is the service engine light. This light basically functions as a reminder that your vehicle is due for maintenance. That might be an oil change or perhaps the tires need air. Once the maintenance is done, the service light usually goes off on its own or is reset by the maintenance technician.

The check engine light is an alert that something is actually wrong. For all the reasons we’ve listed here, you should make it a priority to bring the vehicle in for inspection.

We strive to earn your trust and hope you will think of us as your Ford service center.  If you’re not a Ford owner, we can still help you out. Houska Automotive has long years of experience with 25 other brands, too! Call us at (970) 482-0156 or visit here to schedule an appointment.

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