Why Is My Check Engine Light flashing? | What does a Blinking Check Engine Light mean?

The check engine light alerts you whenever there is a problem with one of the components or systems. A flashing check engine light indicates a much more severe issue. Most often, blinking check engine light means that the engine is misfiring and unburned fuel is getting into the exhaust system. This raises the temperature of the catalytic converter and can cause critical damage.

What Does a Flashing Check Engine Light Mean?

A flashing check engine light signals an emergency and requires immediate repair. The more you drive with a blinking check engine light, the more damage you may cause to your engine.

Flashing Check Engine Light

The engine control unit monitors all sensors in your car while you are driving, and with this information, it calculates how much fuel should be injected into the engine and at which angle it should fire the ignition.

If one of the values from a sensor is faulty for a short amount of time, it will trigger a trouble code such as P0011, P0016, and P0017. As the engine control unit gets the wrong value from the sensor several times, the check engine light will appear on your dashboard.

If this problem is severe from a misfire, it will start to flash the check engine light instead. This is to notify you that a problem that may damage the catalytic converter is happening right now.

If the check engine light starts flashing, you should immediately pull over, shut off the engine, and drive your vehicle to the workshop.

Causes of a Flashing or Blinking Check Engine Light

The are multiple causes of a blinking or flashing check engine light. Following are the most common causes of check engine light flashing:

A flashing or blinking check engine light is most often caused by misfires. However, it is not as simple as that because many different things can cause misfires.

Read More: Signs of bad Fuel Pressure Regulator

How to Diagnose a flashing check engine light?

Addressing the source of the problem is the best way to get your check engine light to turn off. When you drive your vehicle to a technician, he/she will reset the diagnostics reader on the vehicle so that the check engine light turns off.

check engine light

If you decide that you want to turn it off on your own, you can disconnect and then reconnect the car battery. The drawback to this is that you’ll lose all the in-car computer data.

You must understand that every time your check engine light is constantly lightened up or blinking, it will store a trouble code in the memory, so you will have a chance to see what was causing the problem.

Therefore, it is a terrible practice just to guess which parts could cause the check engine light and start to replace parts. In almost all cases, this will just make you waste your money.

A much better and more efficient method is to check what the engine control unit is trying to tell us. This can be done with a diagnostic scanner.

For example, if you get a misfire trouble code and one related to an ignition coil, you should definitely continue the troubleshooting on that ignition coil.

If you get misfires on a specific cylinder – check the spark plugs, ignition coils, and wirings. If you get misfires on several cylinders, there is most likely an issue with a too lean or too rich mixture.

Read More: Different Types of Engines

FAQ Section

Can I drive my car with the check engine light blinking?

The rule of thumb is that if the check engine light is flashing, you shouldn’t drive your car. It’s an emergency. Often it indicates an engine misfire. If you keep driving, you will likely cause irreversible damage, mostly to the (expensive) catalytic converter.

How long can you drive with a blinking engine light?

The check engine light is typically a yellow or red engine-shaped icon situated in the middle of your vehicle dashboard, behind the driving wheel.

Depending on the issue that triggered the Check Engine light, you may be able to continue driving indefinitely or only for a couple of days. Covering a distance between 50 and 100 miles gives the engine computer time to recalibrate certain sensors, which may solve the problem.

Is it safe to drive with a flashing check engine light?

Blinking engine light is a significant cause for concern. In these circumstances, the car owner should immediately take their car to an auto repair shop. It may be unsafe for them to drive the vehicle there themselves.

What does it mean when your check engine light blinks 10 times?

It means that one or more of the emissions systems is not ready, also known as the I/M readiness test. All the systems will be tested as you drive the vehicle, and the light usually stops blinking after a few driving cycles.

What does it mean if your check engine light is blinking and then stops?

A flashing check engine light usually refers to cylinder misfiring. Misfiring should be investigated and resolved promptly – that’s why the light flashes versus simply staying steady – because misfiring can damage the catalytic converter, which can result in additional costly repairs.

Will driving with misfire damage my engine?

An engine misfire can be caused by bad spark plugs or an imbalanced air-fuel mixture. Driving with a misfiring engine isn’t safe and can damage your engine.

Why is my check engine light flashing?

The are multiple causes of blinking or flashing check engine light. Following are the most common causes of check engine light flashing:

  • EVAP trouble codes
  • Internal engine problem (rare)
  • Misfires on one or several cylinders (most common)
  • Boost/overcharging problems
  • Exhaust emission problems
  • Faulty spark plugs/Coils
  • Faulty crankshaft/camshaft sensor
  • Faulty/bad injectors
  • Faulty EGR valve
  • Faulty engine sensors (coolant, air temperature, exhaust temperature sensor, etc.)
  • Low Compression
  • Engine misfiring
  • Engine overheating
  • Bad crankshaft position sensor

Most commonly, the blinking or flashing check engine light means that the engine is misfiring and unburned fuel is getting into the exhaust system. This raises the temperature of the catalytic converter and can cause critical damage.

Read More
  1. Causes of Engine Overheating
  2. Signs and Causes of Cooling System Failure
  3. How to clean a clogged EGR Valve?
  4. How to remove stuck Key Ignition?
  5. Signs of low or leaky Coolant
  6. Advantages of Engine Flush 

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