As the serial owner of ancient, barely serviceable vehicles, I’m occasionally a bit lax in my maintenance.  Recently, my wife’s van suddenly developed a clicking sound and the oil emergency light came on, causing us to immediately park it until payday.  I was struck by how unusual this situation is when I got in my own car and noticed that the ‘Check Engine’ light is on, as it pretty much has been since I bought the vehicle in 2008, making me wonder if I’m a grown-up now and also leading us to today’s automotive query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) knows that not all Faithful Spoilerites have a car or want one, but feel free to play along as a hypothetical, asking: If your car’s emergency lights were to come on, would you immediately respond?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Depends on what light came on. For example – our cars have those tire pressure lights that are supposed to let you know when the air pressure is too low, or you are experiencing a flat. Unfortunately, when the light comes on, it usually because we have hit a cold snap and the pressure is just fine.

    Since I routinely make sure my car is serviced, when a light comes on, it generally means I’m calling the service department within the hour.

  2. I would be extremely surprised because the only cars I have are models and toys, the bulk of which are not battery operated (like the models from kits, some Hot Wheels or multiple basic Transformers). I can’t drive due to medical reasons.

    But I come from a family that ignores the light unless something else is wrong with their vehicle. A few of them are skilled mechanics and will give the car a look after finishing whatever they are doing or wait until the weekend, but unless there is a weird noise or smoke or something else to cause concern, the light alone isn’t enough of a reason for them to pull over and see if something is wrong.

  3. We have the good car and the “drive it till it quits” car. If something’s up with the good car we call the dealership by the end of the day. If it’s the car I drive, well, the check engine light’s been on about a year now and it still makes its daily 3-mile trek to work just fine. New lights warrant investigation, just not immediately.

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