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What Causes Check Engine Light to Flash?

How to Fix P2017 Code

If you're searching for what causes check engine lights to flash? Then, you need to check for a loose fuel cap, a bad catalytic converter, a faulty air flow sensor, a problematic sparkplug, and a malfunctioning oxygen sensor. 

Your vehicle uses some error codes and warning lights to communicate with you and inform you that there is something wrong. However, it's not always the case that when a check engine light illuminates, the problem is very complicated. There are some instances where the problem came be easily fixed.

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That being said, check engine light illumination should not be ignored and as a driver, you must keep close attention on check engine light behavior. For example, when the check engine light just illuminates, the problem might be related to something different than when the check engine light is flashing.

Since we've already discussed different reasons behind check engine lights illuminating, this article is dedicated to addressing potential reasons behind check engine light blinking. 

Once you deal with a similar situation, it's advised that you should take your vehicle to the nearest repair shop to get the problem resolved. But this does not mean that you don't need to be aware of all the potential reasons and causes behind this problem. 

What causes the check engine light to flash?

When you check engine light flashes, there are plenty of possible reasons ranging from minor issues to very complicated problems, resulting in catastrophic outcomes like complete engine failure.

Here are all that you need to do to confirm the main culprit for your flashing check engine light: 

  • Check for a loose fuel cap 

As we already indicated, the check engine light flashing issue should not be linked to a complicated problem. It can be as simple as a loose fuel cap.

When the cap is missing, broken, or rules, your vehicle's internal computer will send an immediate error to bring your attention to the problem. This is because the computer might confuse a problem with the missing fuel cap versus a complicated issue with fuel line leaks. Both fuel line leaks and missing fuel cap result in the same issue: allowing air to enter the fuel system and the fuel vapor to escape.

How to resolve this check engine light flashing issue? 

Once you confirm that the problem is coming from your vehicle's loose or missing fuel cap, go ahead and tighten it or replace it. Your vehicle's internal sensors and the computer will need to reset, which will happen immediately after your drive for a few miles. As a result, the check engine light will turn off by itself. 

  • Inspect the catalytic converter 

Not to throw a wrench in your day, but check engine light flashing problem might be linked to a severe issue like the ones related to the catalytic converter.

The thing is that when the catalytic converter goes bad, you will notice some obvious symptoms before reaching the check engine light flashing issue. If you missed any of these symptoms, try to bring back your memory in check whether you've noticed any sluggish performance of your vehicle's engine, vehicle not accelerating, black smoke coming from your exhaust system, smells like sulfur, and others.  

How to resolve this check engine light flashing issue? 

Once confirming that the problem is coming from the catalytic converter. Unfortunately, Your only way to resolve it is to replace it. Keep in mind that the catalytic converter is one of the most expensive parts in your vehicle, which requires very excessive labor effort to be replaced.

As a result, most customers and drivers who deal with check engine light flashing due to a problem with the catalytic converter end up selling the vehicle instead of wasting time, money, and effort.

If you've found yourself in this situation, we always advise you to reach out to Cash Cars Buyer who was interested in purchasing any vehicle despite its type or condition; whether it has a major issue in the catalytic converter engine itself, we will still buy it. 

  • Check the airflow sensor 

For the vehicle to run properly, it repairs both fuel and air with certain ratios. Overtime abuse, your vehicle's airflow sensor might go bad, triggering the check engine light, which might flash in some scenarios.

The good news here is that about air flow sensor will not prevent you from driving your vehicle; however, you will notice a significant reduction in your vehicles' overall fuel economy and some issues with the performance.


How to resolve this check engine light flashing issue? 

As we indicated already, you don't need to replace the airflow sensor to get your vehicle going immediately; You can still drive this car. However, if you're not happy with the vehicle's fuel economy, you can simply visit any trained mechanic or technician and request inspecting your vehicle and replaced both the airflow sensor and the air filter.

Usually, replacing an airflow sensor should happen at the time of your next oil change. 

  • Inspect the spark plug 

Faulty spark plugs are not the common reason for flashy check engine lights in modern vehicles. However, it can be the culprit and the main problematic component in older vehicles.

Unfortunately, detecting whether the problem is coming from a bad spark plug or any other component can be a little challenging. This is because a bad spark plug causes very similar symptoms to any other faulty components. For instance, you might notice some engine stalling, a significant reduction in the fuel economy, poor vehicle performance, and most importantly, a flashy check engine light. 

How to resolve this check engine light flashing issue? 

The first step to resolving the problem is to confirm that the problem is coming from a spark plug. You can do so by using some of the common diagnostic tools like the OBD II scanners. Once confirming the issue, you can simply swap the old spark plugs, which you can do by yourself or by visiting the nearest repair shop. 

  • Check the oxygen sensor 

The last possible reason behind your check engine light flashing issue can be a faulty oxygen sensor. If you don't already know, the oxygen sensor is responsible for monitoring how much oxygen is available in the combustion system, indicating how much oxygen and fuel were not burnt during the combustion process.

Like any other component in your vehicle, the oxygen sensor is not designed to last forever, and there will be a point in time where you have to replace it.

How to resolve this check engine light flashing issue? 

The good news here is that similar to the bad airflow sensor; a bad oxygen sensor will not prevent you from driving your vehicle, which indicates that some people might ignore the problem for a long time.

Keep in mind that a bad oxygen sensor can damage the catalytic converter down the road. Thus, knowing without the catalytic converter is one of the most expensive components in your vehicle, as we indicated before, it's never recommended to continue driving with a bad oxygen sensor to prevent expensive repair costs.  

Can I drive my car with the check engine light blinking? 

It’s never a good idea to keep driving your vehicle with a blinking check engine light; some automotive experts sometimes refer to this situation as “an emergency.”

As we indicated before, a flashy check engine light might be related to a simple problem like a loose fuel cap. Still, it also can be related to a severe issue in the catalytic converter. Thus, you can’t assume that the problem is simple and keep driving your vehicle. Otherwise, you can introduce your vehicle to very complicated consequences costing you thousands of dollars. 

It’s also advised that you get the problem resolved as soon as possible; even if it doesn’t stop you from driving your vehicle, it can result in other complicated problems where you really won’t be able to drive the vehicle. 

Can low oil cause check engine light flash? 

The short answer is not necessarily. It's been proven that when your vehicle doesn’t have a proper oil level, it will throw an error and cause your check engine light to illuminate but not to flush.

However, this doesn't mean that there is nothing wrong with that oil level; It might be a combination of both low oil level and a problem with the component from the list we mentioned earlier.

, even after fixing any faulty culprit, it is also important to confirm that your vehicle's oil level is at the right mark. 

To prevent dealing with such a situation, questioning whether the check engine light is illuminating due to low oil level or not, it’s recommended that you maintain regular oil checks as specified in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Is it worth fixing my vehicle’s check engine light flashing problem?

Determining whether you should fix your check engine light flashing problem depends heavily on your vehicle’s own circumstances, along with the main problem culprit. 

For example, if the problem is coming from a loose fuel cap, it's definitely worth checking and tightening the loose fuel cap or replacing it if it's missing or broken. Never got; however, if your check engine light is flashing due to a problem with the catalytic converter, you need to evaluate your situation before spending a penny.

Consider calculating the total repair costs your vehicle needs by considering replacing the faulty component and any additional maintenance like tire rotations or even oil change.

Once you have a total number, it's time to compare it to your vehicle's overall value. If you notice that your vehicle's required maintenance costs are getting close to 75% or more from the value of your vehicle, automotive experts never recommend fixing it, and instead, you should think of selling it.

One might wonder who would be interested in purchasing my car if it has major problems resulting in continuous check engine light illuminating issue? Well, Cash Cars Buyer is one of the fewest agencies that are willing to purchase your vehicle despite its size or condition.

If your vehicle suffers from major issues in the catalytic converter, engine, transmission, or any other components, we guarantee to buy it!


If you're looking for what causes the check engine light to flash, this article was purposely for you. 

Usually, people are divided into two groups when dealing with a check engine light: some might run and rushed to their shop to get the problem resolved my others might not have the time or cannot afford repairs and will ignore the problem.

Either way, it is never recommended to ignore a check into light flashing issue because it might be related to a severe complication in one of the most expensive components like the catalytic converter.

Although your check engine light might flash do it for many causes, you don't necessarily need expensive repairs to resolve the problem, especially if you are problems coming from a faulty air flow sensor or oxygen sensor.

At the end of the day, if you were planning to save your vehicle and don't prefer dealing with a reduction in your vehicle's fuel economy or performance, it is always recommended to take care of the problem immediately when it comes to dealing with a check engine light flashing issue.

However, if you notice that repair costs are piling up, it might be the right time now, so your car to Cash Cars Buyer!

To learn more about our process and our team, you can reach out to us by giving us a call at 866-924-4608 or visit our home page click on the free instant online offer


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