It’s pretty easy to dismiss the “check engine” light as just stupid, because, well, it is. I suppose if you thought that the cause of smoke coming from under your hood had something to do with the floor mats, then, sure, the “check engine” light is handy, but beyond that, it’s useless. But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that the “check engine” light is a tool for the propagation of consumer ignorance about their cars. Which is why it needs to die. Now.
If it sounds like I’m making a big deal out of this, it’s because I am. The continued use of a generic, uninformative “check engine” light in cars keeps car owners in the dark about the condition of their vehicle, and ensures they stay dependent and subordinate to car dealers and mechanics. The frustrating thing is it doesn’t have to be that way.