Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Sometimes while driving my service engine light flashes for a second and the engine sputters then goes right back to normal.

asked by on

Sometimes while driving my service engine light flashes for a second and the engine sputters then goes right back to normal. Most of the time it runs great with no issues while idling or anything, until about a month ago. At first it was rare but seems to be happening more often over this past week. I feel like it is mainly when I go over a bump but that could just be a coincidence. I would like to know what to check or fix.

My car has 45000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Hello there, thanks for your question. It s...

Hello there, thanks for your question. It sounds like you may have an intermittent failure, probably electrical.

If codes exist in history (i.e., downloadable), that would give a clue and there might be data loggers that could be applied to record exactly what is happening at the time of the cut-off (and setting of the CEL). The "mainly when you hit a bump" report may not be coincidental as the "jarring" may be enough to create the intermittent fault.

You could try a visual inspection of the engine or body grounds (clean them up and re-tighten) and try to do a physical wire harness trace. In other words, look for anything in the visible wring, including terminals that shows external damage, corrosion, looseness, rubbing, and so forth.

Unfortunately, a wire break concealed in a harness, will be hard to visually find if that is what it is, but there are techniques and tools that a mechanic will use to resolve this.

For any or all of these methods, consider having one of our certified automotive technicians come to your home or office to inspect and diagnose this issue, and make the necessary repairs.

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!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Save up to 30%

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: My car is idling rough and flooding out when first starting. What could be causing this?

This may be related to a dirty or failing idle air control valve. The idle air control valve reads the air intake as it is mixed with fuel prior to being injected into the engine at low speeds and at...

Q: Carburetor is getting gas but will not fire. New fuel pump and cleaned the carburetor twice. It will start on starter fluid but dies.

Engines that won't run are frustrating. Lets start by assuming you are getting fuel to pass through the carburetor. Next you will want to look into spark and compression. The spark may be the easiest to look into. You need...

Q: Fans not coming on.

Hello. You engine should be equipped with a viscous fan for the cooling system. It uses heat from the radiator to engage the fan so that it spins with the engine, which pulls air through the radiator. Typically this fan...

Related articles

How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
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 P0052 code means This code is seen when the Engine Control Module (ECM) tries to control the...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...