What Does It Mean When Your Emissions Light Is On?

When lights start blinking on a car’s dashboard, all vehicle owners groan with dread. While it might be tempting to ignore the check emissions light or cover it up, it’s important to find out what is causing your car’s distress as soon as possible. 


The check engine light and check emissions light are two of the most helpful features of vehicles. The check engine light illuminates anytime the engine control unit determines that something in your vehicle is not functioning correctly, from a car transmission problem to an emissions problem.


This light will usually come on alongside the check emissions light. Luckily, by having both the check engine light and check emissions light on a mechanic should be able to diagnose your car troubles faster. We’ll look at some common causes of the emissions light turning on and the immediate steps you should take.

Causes Why the Emissions Light Turn On

As soon as you notice that your emissions warning light has turned on you will want to visit a transmission auto shop. This shop will be able to examine the vehicle and diagnose the problem. Some common causes for the emission light on car illuminating are:

  • Emission system fault – This is when the engine is burning too much fuel, increasing your carbon footprint. The emission light on car could also be on because the system is not burning enough fuel, or if the sensor is broken
  • Mass airflow sensor problem – The sensor that gathers data from the air filter to be used by the engine control unit is broken.
  • Ignition system fault – This system burns the fuel that starts your car’s engine, and could have parts that need to be replaced. 
  • Blocked diesel particulate filter – The filter that removes harmful particles from the vehicle’s exhaust could be blocked or broken.

Is It Safe To Drive With The Exhaust Emissions Light On?

The answer to this question is tricky. Whether it is safe to drive when the emissions light is on depends on what is causing the light to turn on. It could be a broken sensor that triggers the emissions control lamp, or something much more serious. The check engine light will glow red if the emissions problem is serious.


If your car is running smoothly, you can continue to drive the car. However, a wise course of action to protect yourself is to go to an auto shop and have an inspection. The experts can determine the cause of your emissions warning light and the urgency of having the problem fixed. 


If you need to determine the cause of your emissions warning light illuminating or are concerned about driving, search for your nearby transmission shops in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Can Your Check Engine Light Turn On for Emissions?

Yes, your emissions control lamp and check engine light will both turn on if your car is experiencing an emissions problem. However, if the check engine light comes on but the emissions control lamp does not turn on, you may be experiencing a different auto issue. 

Get Service Right Away

The emission light on car is a helpful tool for car owners. It can help you narrow down the potential causes of your auto troubles. The sooner you determine the emissions problem and have a repair done, the sooner you can get back to driving smoothly down the road. If you are in need of a transmission repair in Chattanooga, visit S&S Transmission for a quality inspection and repair!