No signal is more perplexing than a car’s check engine light. Is my gas cap loose or is my engine about to die? If your car cries orange a lot, you might be relatively unfazed by the bright light. Oh, is that thing on again?
Based on conversations with friends and some time spent looking through online car forums, it seems that Subaru has linked the check engine light to the cruise control on the popular Outback and Forrester (and possibly other models). When the light illuminates, the cruise control is disabled. In order to regain cruise control, the driver has to take the car to a mechanic who can diagnose any potential engine problems. Why has Subaru settled on this design? To encourage preventative care? To boost the profits of its service centers? Both?
Addendum: In late-model cars, serious engine problems are usually foreshadowed by a blinking check engine light.