Q: Wire for Check Engine Light was cut

asked by on January 14, 2018

I don’t have much experience with cars, but I watched a few videos for the dashboard lights and it seemed pretty easy to change those out.

My check engine light does not light up at all, I need it to light up on startup for my registration renewal inspection.

Well when I pulled everything off I didn’t find a regular bulb for the check engine light. Nor was there a slotting for it on the circuit board, only illumination slotting for those bulbs. However, there was a wire just dangling, not connecting to anything. After looking around a bit it appears that it is the engine light. The wire is attached to a bulb in the instrument cluster for the CEL, but the other end of the wire is taped off and not connected to anything.

I think the previous owner cut the wire, but I can’t find where the other end is.

Any help on how to find it would be appreciated.

My car has 242000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

The check engine light bulb should have one 12 volt hot wire that is run in parallel to other bulb lights. You can check for battery voltage between that wire (if you believe you have identified it) and ground. The other wire to the bulb that completes the circuit may be pink/light green and that wire is a ground wire that is coming from a terminal on the PCM. That wire from the PCM is the switched segment of the circuit that allows the bulb to turn on and off. It is possible the ground wire was cut at the PCM. To resolve this you need to refer to the exact wiring configuration as published in the factory service manual. If you want the required steps performed by a certified Mechanic, dispatched by YourMechanic right to your location, please request an electrical circuit diagnostic and the responding certified mechanic, who will have the factory wiring diagram in hand, will get this problem resolved for you. 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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