Q: Check Engine Light

asked by on January 18, 2017

The check engine light came on when started car. At first flashing, but then steady for drive. Car seems to be running okay. A little low on oil, but will be adding some this evening. Car has never had any problems before and the light has randomly come on in the past due to gas cap not being closed and similar things. Was a little shakey when I started it, but may be due to cold weather and icy conditions. Would like to know if this is omething I should worry about or not.

My car has 150370 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

If your vehicle’s check engine light illuminates, there is a malfunction that should be diagnosed and repaired. If the check engine light is flashing, that means there is a serious fault, such as cylinder misfiring, that requires immediate repair. Misfiring, in particular, has the potential to damage the catalytic converter which can result in additional costly repairs. In your case, if the flashing of the check engine light stopped, that simply means the fault is intermittent and you are right in supposing it could be "weather related". For example, if there is corrosion on ignition circuit contacts, already creating high resistance, adding moisture can cause voltage to bleed off, worsening the electrical contact. Once the engine heats up, the moisture of course disappears. But, the underlying problem - the corrosion or poor contact - should still be addressed so that this misfiring does not repeat itself. If the check engine light is "steadily" illuminated (not flashing) the seriousness of the malfunction is hard to judge unless and until a Code Scanner is used by the Mechanic to download the specific trouble codes from your car’s computer (PCM or ECU) that have caused the light to illuminate. In your circumstance, even though the flashing ceasing, the troubles codes will still be downloadable. Consequently, I recommend you request a check engine light diagnostic. During such a diagnostic, a certified mechanic from YourMechanic would use a code scanner to retrieve diagnostic trouble code(s) from your car’s PCM. Using those codes the appropriate individual vehicle components or sub-systems (often a sensor, circuit, and the like) are tested to pinpoint the cause of the fault or the reason why the check engine light has illuminated. Once the faulty part or component is identified, it is explained to your satisfaction and the mechanic will let you know of the cost to repair. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

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