Updated: Jan 9
When you start up your Acura the check engine light (CEL), along with other dashboard warning lights will illuminate to test they work, they should all turn off in a few seconds. If the engine warning light doesn't turn off on your Acura, it may be a sign of a problem.
Usually an illuminated check engine light is something minor, such as a loose fuel filler cap or simply a malfunction and restarting your car or using an OBD scanner to clear any fault codes may fix the issue.
The most common causes of an Acura check engine light are faulty emissions control parts (such as the catalytic converter) or oxygen sensor, a fuel injection system issue, damaged head gasket, dirty mass airflow sensor, or faulty spark plugs.
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Common Symptoms of an Acura Check Engine Light
If the check engine warning light comes on in your Acura, you may notice any of the common symptoms mentioned below.
Engine running rough
Poor throttle response
Unusual noises and sounds
Stalling or cutting out
Smoke from the exhaust
The vehicle goes into failsafe mode (limp mode)
The symptoms you may notice are totally dependent on the cause of the check engine light; if it's a simple problem, like a loose gas cap, you likely won't experience anything other than the warning light.
You may experience a wide range of symptoms if it's a more significant issue, such as an engine failure.
You could use an OBD scanner to find out which diagnostic fault codes have been issued in order to identify the root cause of the issue. From there, you may start looking into the problem to see what caused it.
Types of Check Engine Light
The check engine light on your Acura can be intermittently on, constantly on, or can also be blinking / flashing, each variation of the CEL has its own meanings.
Intermittent: If your Acura's check engine light illuminates on a regular basis but not continuously, keep an eye out for any changes in performance, especially while the warning light is on. If you notice a change, avoid driving the vehicle until it can be repaired. If the problem is intermittent, it is most likely a sensor failure or an electrical issue and may become worse over time, you also run the risk of the vehicle not starting.
Constantly on: The check engine light on your Acura has come on because the onboard diagnostic system has identified a critical issue. Even if your car seems to be in good working order, it is advised to have repairs made as soon as possible to prevent further issues. If at all possible, avoid starting or driving the car.
Blinking: When the check engine light on your Acura flashes or blinks, it often indicates a major issue with the vehicle. You should stop when it's safe to do so. It's often advisable to have the car towed or collected so that it can be repaired. You shouldn't start the car or drive the vehicle if the check engine light is blinking.
Failsafe Mode (Limp Mode)
Your Acura may have entered failsafe mode, commonly known as "limp mode", to prevent additional damage if you notice a consistent decrease in performance while the check engine light is on.
You should avoid starting or driving your car if this failsafe mode has been activated until the problem has been fixed.
Common Causes of a Check Engine Light for Acura Vehicles
There are numerous causes of a check engine light, many cars have common causes associated with them specifically, below is a list of common causes of a check engine light for an Acura.
Loose fuel cap
Faulty catalytic converter
Defective oxygen sensor
Fuel injection system issue
Damaged head gasket
Dirty MAF sensor
Spark plug issues
Loose Fuel Cap
Fuel pressure may be lowered and fuel vapour can escape from a loose, broken, or missing fuel filler cap, which lowers fuel economy and results in harmful emissions. The ECU may identify this and turn on the check engine light as a result.
Faulty Catalytic Converter
Debris may eventually clog your catalytic converter, especially in vehicles with higher mileage. A crucial part of the emissions system, the catalytic converter reduces harmful emissions.
Fuel economy and vehicle performance may be significantly impacted by a damaged or faulty catalytic converter. The ECU uses a number of sensors in the exhaust that might cause the check engine light to illuminate on your Acura.
Defective Oxygen Sensor
After being exposed to the hot exhaust gas for a long time, the oxygen sensor may need to be replaced.
The ECU receives data about the air/fuel mixture from the oxygen sensor. A air/fuel ratio that's not optimal may be caused by a faulty oxygen sensor.
Insufficient fuel can cause an engine to fail, but too much fuel causes an engine to produce too much harmful emissions. This will lead to your Acuras check engine light coming on.
Fuel Injection System Issue
An issue with the fuel injection system (such as blocked or faulty fuel injectors) is a common cause of a check engine light for an Acura.
This issue will result in a variety of issues and should be fixed as soon as possible.
Damaged Head gasket
Although head gasket failure is not very common it is still more common on an Acura than most other vehicles. This will lead to serious issues and likely prevent the engine from running, it also leads to a check engine light.
Common symptoms associated with a head gasket failure are overheating, white smoke from the exhaust, low coolant, a rough engine running, and white/milky looking engine oil.
Dirty MAF Sensor
When exposed to dirty air, the mass air flow (MAF) sensor may malfunction. The MAF sensor measures the amount of air entering the engine and helps in setting the ideal air/fuel ratio.
Your engine may misfire due to a faulty MAF sensor, which may reduce performance and fuel economy and increase engine damage. A dirty MAF sensor can be fixed easily by cleaning it with electrical contact cleaner or by using a compressed air duster.
Spark Plug Issues
Acura spark plugs need to be changed around every 30,000 miles and are classed as a replacement part. Your engine starts and operates by igniting the air/fuel mixture in the cylinder with the help of your spark plugs.
When the spark plug wiring is damaged, corroded, loose, or has to be replaced, it may also result in problems.
Your engine may misfire as a result of faulty spark plugs or spark plug wires, which may reduce fuel economy, performance, or even prevent your engine from starting at all. The check engine light can turn on as a result of this.
If there are no obvious symptoms of an issue such as poor engine performance, vibrations, etc, then you could try the following options. If there are issues you should avoid starting and driving the vehicle and thoroughly investigate the problem before you do.
Take the following steps to fix or find out the cause of the check engine light:
Check the gas filler cap on your Acura to see if it is secure and properly pushed back in place.
Open the engine bay and check for any obvious damage, loose parts, broken electrical parts or wiring, etc.
Visually check the battery connections are secure.
Switch off the vehicle for 15 minutes, restart it and see if the check engine light turns on.
If no issues are found or it didn't resolve the issue, you could try these next steps:
Use a professional OBD scanner to clear any fault codes.
Switch the car off and disconnect the negative (ground) connection on the battery.
Remove the mass air flow sensor and use an electrical cleaner such as a compressed air duster or contact cleaner to clean the mass air flow sensor.
Check all obvious electrical connections for damage or loose connections.
Put everything back in place, reconnect the negative (ground) terminal on the battery after 15-30 minutes (so the ECU can reset).
Start the car and see if the check engine light appears, if it does not appear test drive your Acura vehicle for 15-30 minutes.
There are many variables that determines what causes a check engine light. It could be anything from engine or transmission issues, to faulty electrical wiring, malfunctioning sensors, or something as simple as a loose connector or loose gas cap.
Can the Acura Check Engine Light Reset Itself?
If the you followed the steps above and the check engine light is still present it is unlikely to reset itself. If it was a simple problem such as the fuel filler cap being open still, the check engine light should go away on its own, just restart the vehicle and it'll be gone.
If the check engine light on your Acura is still present, use an OBD scanner and see which fault codes appear, use them fault codes as a starting point for your investigation.