Check Engine lights are Pollution Preventer

If your “check engine” light is on, something is wrong.

These lights didn’t exist back when vehicles were tuned every 5,000 to 10,000 miles and it was a difficult procedure to correctly tune an engine. I often compared that task to being the conductor of a symphony, making sure all the different components of an engine were perfectly timed and working in concert with each other.

But tune-ups like this are no longer needed, because everything in an engine is controlled by an onboard computer called an electronic control unit (ECU). The ECU looks to many components for inputs to get the firing and air/fuel mixture correct. The greatest ability of the ECU is self policing. It checks the amount of air coming into the engine, burns it and takes samples after it leaves the engine to make sure the air and fuel are being burned correctly (and efficiently, reducing air pollution). It looks for misfires in the engine and, if there are any, activates the check-engine light. On newer vehicles, an ECU will even record how many misfires there were, when they happened and at what RPM.

This is very advanced data, but also complicated to analyze. We spend a lot of time on education to understand this, and spend more money on scanners and updates than any other equipment. Repairing the problem that is causing your check-engine light to activate might be difficult, but correcting the issue can help protect our air.

Motor vehicles are the No. 1 cause of air pollution in Lane County and Oregon.

According to the Oregon Department of Environ-mental Quality, vehicles in Oregon produce more than 119 million pounds of air pollution consisting of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, benzene and smog-producing hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and other air toxins each day. And, of course, traffic congestion and air pollution will only increase as the population of Lane County continues to grow.


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