Do “Check Engine” Lights Improve Automotive Maintenance & Safety?

Trusted Content

Legally reviewed by:

Erik Abrahamson, J.D. November 14, 2012

According to a new study from the American Auto Association, car maintenance alert systems that inform drivers when their vehicle requires attention appear to encourage more frequent automotive maintenance.

As a vehicle owner, few things are quite as frustrating as when the “check engine” light comes on with no further indication as to what might be wrong with the automobile. Depending on the model of your vehicle, it’s often impossible to know just how serious the problem might be until you’ve brought your automobile in to have it checked out.

However, it turns out that this inconvenience is doing drivers plenty of good in the long term, according to the AAA report. 63% of the drivers who participated in the study owned vehicles with some type of car maintenance alert system. Just over half of these drivers reported that they rely entirely on these alert systems and only bring their vehicle in for maintenance when they are instructed to do so by their dashboard.

Only about 35% of drivers stated that they have their car maintained more often than their maintenance system recommends, while 15% of respondents admitted to ignoring their maintenance reminder systems.

According to John Nielsen of AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair, the fact that modern car maintenance alert systems have taken so much of the guesswork out of vehicle maintenance is a good thing.

“The challenge now,” said Nielsen, “is educating consumers to trust that their vehicle will alert them when maintenance is needed.”

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