What a Blinking Check Engine Light Means

The difference between a blinking check engine light and a normal, steady check engine light is a lot like the difference between seeing a police car with its lights flashing and just seeing a police car.

When most drivers see a police car, they slow down, check their speed, and make sure they’re not doing any suspicious. But when they see a police car with its lights flashing, they pull over to the side of the road (especially if the police car is directly behind them).

IF THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS BLINKING or FLASHING, you should IMMEDIATELY PULL OVER to the side of the road. Usually, this means that there is a serious problem in the emission control system which is causing the engine to misfire. Many times, when you see that the light is blinking, you’ll also notice that the engine becomes very rough and loses power. Pull over to a safe place, shut off the car, and have your vehicle towed to a repair facility where they can find out exactly what is wrong. Severe engine damage and even fire can result if you ignore this for too long.

On the other hand, A STEADY CHECK ENGINE LIGHT (much like seeing a police car without its lights on) is a signal to take a minute to slow down and check on everything. Is your car making any unusual noises? Is your gas tank almost empty (or is your gas cap loose)? Is your car doing anything out of the ordinary? If nothing obvious is amiss, then the computer in your vehicle noticed a problem (usually in the emissions system) and you’ll want to have a mechanic look into it at your convenience.

Read some of our other recent Check Engine Light topics:

Additional Resources for the Check Engine Light: