Q: Engine stutters then check light comes on at startup

asked by on

We know we have an exhaust leak, and are wondering if this issue is separate or related. When starting the car most of the time the engine will stutter and the wrench light comes on. We can drive it after this but it doesn't have much force, like low acceleration hard to get high speeds. We usually turn the car off and on several times until it doesn't do this, then it drives normally.

My car has 185000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Exhaust leaks can cause the check engine light to set. If you have an exhaust leak, it should be repaired because carbon monoxide is deadly. You can have the source of the leak identified, and repaired, by requesting an exhaust leak inspection. With regard to the poor idle, when the engine is cold, the engine coolant temperature sensor must be working properly to signal the PCM to enrich the mixture on cold start. If there is a fault with that sensor, you can experience rough idle idle as you are describing. Other possibilities are a vacuum leak, an air induction fault like a stuck idle air control valve, problems with the mass air flow sensor, defective spark plugs, a weak coil and defective oxygen sensor(s). If you desire that this problem be diagnosed by a certified Mechanic, dispatched by YourMechanic right to your location, please request a rough idle diagnostic.


With regard to the incidents you are experiencing with the engine losing power, the cause of that can be diagnosed, and any required repairs made, if you request an engine loss of power diagnostic. To give you an initial idea, although there are many possibilities, a partial list would include oxygen sensors, fuel pump and/or filter, vacuum leaks, ignition system malfunctions, bad valve timing if the timing belt or chain is worn or skipped, blocked exhaust (e.g., catalytic convertor fails or become clogged), airflow sensor, throttle position sensor, and so forth. Whatever the cause, if you request the engine loss of power diagnostic, the certified mechanic will get this resolved. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

Was this answer helpful?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. Engine stutters then check light comes on at startup

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Purge control solenoid stuck open, hard to start after refuling

Hello. If the computer is saying that the purge valve is stuck open it is usually because there is an EVAP leak in the system. If the purge valve is new I usually check the wiring and the signal going...

Q: AC compressor problem

If the compressor is failing it is hard to say if you can still drive the car. If the compressor is failing internally and only acts up when the AC is turned on, then you can still drive the car...

Q: Car stalled and would not start - 2013 Ford Fusion

Hi there. This could be a concern with the push start button itself. While the push start button has been around for a short while, it's still not a perfect option. This option is taking the place of the mechanical...

Related articles

How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...
How Much Does a Mechanic Make in Vermont?
Automotive technician jobs in Vermont have an average mechanic salary of $37k, with some mechanics earning a salary of $53k.