What do you do if the Check Engine Light is Flashing?
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When the Check Engine light is flashing (as opposed to it being simply ON), it means that a catalytic converter is probably getting really damaged and needs immediate attention! The first thing to do when this light is flashing or blinking is to immediately pull over and get it towed to the nearest mechanic.
If you continue to drive with a flashing Check Engine light, you may create bigger damage to your car, which could be irreversible or very expensive to take care of. This type of light is very different from steady Check Engine light, which only alerts you of a problem.
If you have a blinking or flashing Check Engine light, you DON’T wait and take action NOW!
It is NOT a good idea to drive your vehicle with the Check Engine light blinking if you don’t want your catalytic converter to get blown, which can cost you over $2K in converter repairs.
The reason behind this problem is a cylinder misfiring and that leads to the exhaust system getting filled with unburned fuel. The temperature of the catalytic converter gets raised to a critical point and your Check Engine light starts flashing to alert you.
Misfiring of the cylinder could be caused by a variety of problems, including worn-out spark plugs. This is more common in the older vehicles and you probably already had some warning signs like rough idling, performance getting worse, or even stalling.
The problem with the catalytic converter is rather noticeable in your driving. Your car will move more sluggishly and you will have acceleration problems. Black smoke from exhaust (along with sulfur smell) could also alert you of a problem with the catalytic converter.
All these problems could come up on the diagnostic tool called OBD II scanner. If you have the proper tools, you could change spark plugs yourself, but in case of already flushing Check Engine light, the best will be to see a professional.
If your catalytic converter blows and dies on you, replacing it is so expensive (due to the procedure complexity) that it’s not even worth it for most people. Replacing a catalytic converter requires welding and electrical splicing, and this is why you probably don’t want to do it yourself and should take it to the shop.
Some cars have several converters inside or converters that need to meet California Emission Standards, which will add up to the cost.
Flashing or blinking Check Engine light can also mean that the damage to other components of the emission system, along with oxygen sensors is occurring.
Even in this case, you do NOT want to keep on driving your car! Whether it’s a misfiring cylinder problem or oxygen sensor problem, they all LEAD TO gradually damage your catalytic converter.
Your oxygen (O2) sensor monitors the amount of unburned fuel coming from the exhaust. Even though the problem with this sensor will not prevent you from driving your car, it will lower your miles per gallon ratio and this is why the first sign of the potential catalytic converter problem is:
Bad fuel efficiency
If your oxygen sensor gets covered in oil, it will not be able to sense oxygen and fuel mixture so efficiently and problems can occur. This is not an expensive fix, and sometimes you will be able to find sensor changing instructions in the owner’s manual.
Check Engine light that blinks – is an EMERGENCY situation and you need to get your car to the shop right away! If you don’t have an opportunity to check your car out right away, find a parking spot and get a cab.
Do NOT ignore the flashing Check Engine light! And here is why:
Flashing Check Engine light is a serious matter, so don’t take it lightly and get help:
Attention! This article is for informational purposes ONLY and is NOT a replacement for professional advice! ALWAYS consult your local specialist for an appropriate solution to your problem. All statements, prices, contact information, recommendations, and reviews contained herein came from sources that we believe to be reliable, but the accuracy or completeness thereof is not guaranteed. Please contact the service provider for complete details and updates.
From what I know, CEL flashing is also caused by a bad fuel system, and airflow sensor.