It’s not all that uncommon for a car’s check engine light to turn on and stay on for an extended period of time. You might see your check engine light come on if you have a loose gas cap, a bad oxygen sensor, or a failing mass airflow sensor. But it’s not quite as common to see a car’s check engine light blinking while you’re driving it down the road.
If you just noticed your car’s check engine light flashing, this is not a good sign! More often than not, it’s usually a sign that there is a serious issue going on with your car that will need to be addressed right away. While you can get away with driving around in a car with the check engine light lit up, it’s going to be a much different story if the check engine light is blinking.
Continue reading to find out why you might have a check engine light blinking in your car and what exactly you should do about it. It’ll help you avoid the potential problems that could come along with driving in a car with the check engine light blinking.
Why Is My Check Engine Light Blinking?
When the check engine light in your car turns on and stays on, it essentially serves as a reminder to let you know that you need to have something in your car fixed. In most cases, you can continue to drive your car like normal until you get a chance to make the necessary repairs. But when you have a check engine light blinking, you shouldn’t put off making repairs for a single second!
When your car’s check engine light is blinking, it’s basically saying, “HEY, YOU! PAY ATTENTION TO ME! GO AND GET YOUR CAR FIXED NOW!” A check engine light that is blinking is letting you know that you have an emergency situation on your hands that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later. In addition to the check engine light blinking, you might also notice a big change in the way that your car performs, which will add to the urgency of the situation.
Most of the time, a check engine light blinking is an indication that your engine is misfiring for one reason or another. And if it keeps on misfiring, it’s only going to be a matter of time before damage is done to your car’s catalytic converter if you’re not careful. It’s why you’re going to have no choice but to take your car in for repairs right away.
What Can Cause Your Check Engine Light to Blink?
Now that you know just how serious things can be when you have a check engine light blinking, let’s get into talking about what can cause your check engine light to blink. This is where things can get a little bit more complicated.
As we just mentioned, a check engine light blinking usually means that your car is misfiring. But the truth is that it can begin misfiring for a bunch of different reasons. You’re not typically going to be able to tell without having a mechanic look at your car. Here are just a few of the common causes of a check engine light blinking.
1. Bad Spark Plug
The spark plugs in your car are a lot smaller than many of the other parts found in it. But they play a big role in the overall well-being of your engine! They’re in charge of supplying the spark that is used to ignite the air-fuel mixture that is present in your engine. This spark leads to an explosion of sorts taking place in your engine, which is then what allows it to produce so much power.
If your spark plugs are literally on their last legs, they’re not going to be able to produce the necessary spark anymore. And this is going to eventually lead to your engine misfiring all the time. You might be able to get away with using spark plugs that are on their way out for a little while, but before long, you’re going to see your check engine light blinking.
The good news is that replacing spark plugs is a relatively simple task that shouldn’t set you back too much in terms of money. But if you don’t replace spark plugs when they go bad, it could lead to damage being done to your engine, your catalytic converter, and more.
2. Bad Spark Plug Wire
The spark plugs in your car might be in great shape and doing their jobs. But if the spark plug wires that are connected to them aren’t in good shape, that could be the reason why your check engine light is blinking. You’ll need to have your spark plug wires replaced so that they’re able to work more effectively with your spark plugs.
Your spark plug wires are responsible for taking a spark from your car’s distributor or your ignition coil and passing it along to your spark plugs. As a result, you’re going to find yourself in a world of trouble if this spark doesn’t ever get to your spark plugs because of bad spark plug wires. It’ll often lead to a reduction in the power produced by your engine and potentially even engine misfiring.
If things get to that point, you’ll see your check engine light blinking and know that you have a problem on your hands. You might want to go ahead and replace both your bad spark plug wires and possibly your spark plugs as well just for good measure.
3. Bad Ignition Coil
If you have a check engine light blinking and your spark plugs and spark plug wires aren’t to blame for it, you might also be looking at an issue with your ignition coil. Sometimes called your spark coil, it’s a part of your ignition system. It works to transform the voltage provided to it by your car’s battery into the voltage that is needed to create the spark that is then sent to your spark plugs.
When your ignition coil has gone bad on you, it won’t be able to produce the necessary spark for your spark plugs. Your spark plugs, in turn, won’t be able to ignite your air-fuel mixture like usual, which will lead to your engine misfiring. And it’ll result in your check engine light blinking. You’ll need to replace your ignition coil as soon as possible to get it working in the way it’s supposed to again.
4. Bad Fuel Injector
At this point, we’ve talked quite a bit about how the air-fuel mixture in your engine is ignited by the hard work that your spark plugs, spark plug wires, and ignition coil put in. But we haven’t yet addressed how the fuel in this mixture actually makes its way to your engine.
You obviously have a fuel tank that stores your car’s fuel as well as a fuel line that carries your fuel to your engine. But once it gets there, it isn’t just dumped into your engine. Instead, it’s carefully mixed in with the air in your engine through the fuel of fuel injectors. They’re designed to spray fuel into your engine through the use of valves that are electronically controlled.
If you have a bad fuel injector, it’s not going to be able to deliver the right amount of fuel to your engine. This can result in your engine misfiring and your check engine light blinking. You might be able to clean your fuel injectors to make this problem go away. But you might also need to replace them to stop your check engine light from blinking anymore.
5. Bad Engine Valve
Your engine has a series of engine valves in it that are designed to regulate how much fuel is able to work its way through the combustion chambers in your engine. When these engine valves start to wear down on you and stop working, it’ll sometimes lead to a loss of power in your engine. When this occurs, you’ll likely see your check engine light blinking.
Fortunately, most engine valves aren’t going to give out on you very often. They’re made to last for a really long time without presenting any problems. But you shouldn’t rule them out as the possible problem if you have a check engine light blinking. Your mechanic will need to inspect them to see if they could be the cause of your recent issues.
6. Bad Engine Computer
Most modern cars have engine computers in them that control just about every aspect of the engines in them. These computers are able to collect data while you’re behind the wheel of your car so that they can keep your engine firing on all cylinders at all times. They’ll monitor everything from your ignition system to the inner workings of your engine.
But just like the other computers in your car, your engine computer could go bad on you. And when it does, you shouldn’t be surprised to see your check engine light blinking. You might also experience issues like:
- Your engine shutting off on you for no good reason
- Your fuel pump giving out on you
- Your car not starting in the way it should
- Your engine computer overheating
Of all the problems listed here that can result in a check engine light blinking, this one might just be the worst. You should get your car to a mechanic ASAP when it rears its ugly head.
Can I Drive My Car With the Check Engine Light Blinking?
If you look down at your dashboard and see your check engine light blinking, you might be tempted to keep on driving it until you’re able to get an appointment with your mechanic. You can do this at times when your check engine light is turned on, so what would be the harm in pushing it to the limit while the check engine light is blinking, right?
Well, the sad reality is that you can do a ton of harm to a car with its check engine light blinking if you keep on driving it. You could do irreparable damage to the catalytic converter, the engine, and other vital parts. It’s why you should shut down a car with its check engine light blinking and take it in for service right away.
How Much Will It Cost to Get a Check Engine Light to Stop Blinking?
We can’t sit here and tell you exactly how much it’s going to cost to get the check engine light to stop blinking in your car. It’ll all depend on the specific problem that you’re experiencing. But we can give you a general idea of how much some of the auto repairs that might need to be made will run you. Here are their costs:
- Spark plug replacement: Between $200 and $250
- Spark plug wire replacement: Between $180 and $220
- Ignition coil replacement: Between $200 and $270
- Fuel injector replacement: Between $650 and $800
- Engine computer replacement: Between $900 and $1,000
Contact your mechanic for more information on what it’s going to cost you to stop your check engine light from blinking.
Can I Sell My Car With the Check Engine Light Blinking?
Do you have an older car with its check engine light blinking? It might not make a whole lot of sense for you to try and repair it. Rather than attempting to fix your car to get the check engine light to turn off, you should consider selling it instead.
Cash Cars Buyer can take your old car off your hands, even with the check engine light blinking, and pay you top dollar for it. To sell your car to us, simply follow these steps:
- Set us up with some information about your car, including the year it was made, the make and model of it, and its mileage
- Check out the offer that we send you for your car and accept it or reject it
- Let us know where to pick up your car if you accept our offer and collect cash for it
We make it so easy to sell a car with its check engine light blinking. Contact us today for more information on how it’s done.