Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: My Check Engine Light is on, and the code points to the thermostat. Is it safe to drive my car with this issue?

asked by on

My check engine light came on while my car was idling in the parking lot at work. A quick trip to autozone, and I've been told the light is coming on because of the engine thermostat, but they could not tell me what was exactly wrong with the car. I live 113 miles from my work and commute every day. Will I be safe to continue driving my car at least to get home? Can this problem wait until the weekend?

My car has 43000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

If you can write back in with the exact Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) that Autozone downloaded for you, we can give you a more precise answer. For want of that detail, if you are referring to the "engine cooling system thermostat", so long as the engine temperature gauge on the dashboard does NOT go outside of the "normal" engine temperature range, it is is OK to use the car for a while until you get this addressed.

You just have to watch the gauge closely. If, however, you are seeing that the engine temperature is outside of the normal range on the gauge, unfortunately the car cannot be driven because the excess heat and high temperature can potentially damage the engine (high temperatures outside of the "normal" range can actually warp metal parts of the engine, so much so that the engine could be rendered unusable). So, the key is: as long as the engine is not operating any hotter than usual, you are OK.

If you had the code, we could give you an educated guess, based on your model and year, as to some of the possibilities. Just keep in mind: just because a code mentions a "part", such as a thermostat, that doesn’t always mean that that specific part must be replaced. Codes have varying meanings and the reality is anything "identified" in the code, in the way of a "part", has to be SEPARATELY evaluated and tested. So, the code is the starting point, not the end point, in the diagnosis.

I recommend having a certified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, determine why the Check Engine Light is on and perform any needed repairs to make sure your car is in proper working order.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!
  • Home
  • Questions
  • My Check Engine Light is on, and the code points to the thermostat. Is it safe to drive my car with this issue?

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: How do I read the engine coolant temperature gauge?

The engine coolant temperature gauge is located on your instrument panel, and displays how hot the coolant in your engine is. This display can be three colors: blue (when the coolant is cold), gray (when the coolant is a normal...

Q: Reset service light

Hi. You will need to connect your vehicle to a scanner that has the ability to clear fault codes. The cheaper scanners usually do not have the ability to clear the codes, only retrieve them. If you don't have access...

Q: Front passenger window will not go up

Hello. If the switches and fuses to that window are good then there is likely some sort of wiring issue. It may be possible that a broken or damaged wire is cutting off power to raise the window. I would...

Related articles

P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...
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...