Four Common Check Engine Light Scenarios and What to Do

Posted on April 29, 2013

The Check Engine Light turns on and off or flickers…

If the Check Engine Light comes on in the city but goes off on the freeway, then the fault is present during city driving conditions (stop and go traffic).

Pay attention to whether or not the vehicle runs or drives any differently when the Check Engine Light illuminates. If vehicle performance does change, drive the car as little as possible until you can get auto repair done in Nashua NH. Take the vehicle to be checked by a service professional as soon as possible.

*If the performance of your vehicle changes, and your CEL does not come on, it may be the tires. Gurney’s offers tires in Nashua NH and can make sure yours are aligned and up to standard.

If there is no change in vehicle performance, you can drive home, but have it inspected as soon as possible. In this condition, you run a risk of the vehicle dying or not starting. If you are ever in doubt, always bring your vehicle to an auto repair shop for inspection.

The Check Engine Light comes on and stays on…
If the Check Engine Light illuminates constantly during driving with no noticeable driving or performance problems, there might be a permanent fault in the emission control system. When this happens, the computer that controls the emission system usually has a backup program that runs while the fault is present. (These backup programs are often referred to as “limp home” mode programs.)

Feel free to take the vehicle to our auto repair shop right here in Nashua NH to get the problem fixed quickly. You will want to get this problem inspected soon because you will run the risk of your vehicle dying or not starting.

The Check Engine Light stays on and there are performance problems…
This means that a vital component of your emission control and engine management system has a serious problem. If you are in the Nashua NH area, feel free to swing by our auto repair shop and have the problem identified.

This type of problem usually involves a component or system needed for the vehicle to run at all. In most cases, drive the vehicle as little as possible. In many cases, the vehicle is not safe to drive at all—it could stop or stall out at any moment. It is best to pull over to a safe place and have the vehicle towed to an auto repair shop with a diagnostician for a thorough NH State inspection and repair.

The Check Engine Light comes on and blinks in a steady pattern while driving…
Many people will confuse this steady pulsing of the Check Engine Light (usually one or more flashes per second) with a flicker (see above).

The Check Engine Light may stay on steadily or it may flash when the vehicle is accelerated. This is very serious. If the light is flashing, there is a severe failure of the emission control system that is causing the engine to misfire to the point that the catalytic converter is damaged each time the Check Engine Light flashes.

It may mean that the catalytic converter is overheating to the point that it will glow red or, in extreme cases, start a fire on the underside of the vehicle. Immediately pull over to a safe place and have your vehicle towed to an automotive diagnostician for repair. Gurney’s auto body shop in both Nashua and Milford NH can diagnose the problem. Vehicles can be severely damaged and even destroyed by fire if this condition is ignored for too long.


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