Should You Keep Driving When the Check Engine Light Comes on?

The moment your vehicle's check engine light illuminates on the dashboard, it can fill you with a sense of concern and uncertainty. While the check engine light can indicate a variety of issues, it's important not to ignore it. Here are some reasons the check engine can come on and what you should do about it.

Understanding the Check Engine Light

The check engine light is part of your car's onboard diagnostics system (OBD-II) and serves as an indicator that something is amiss with your vehicle. It monitors various sensors and systems in your car and triggers the light when it detects a potential problem that may affect emissions or the overall performance of your vehicle.

Steady Check Engine Light

If the check engine light is on and steady, it indicates a potential issue that should be addressed. While it might not be an emergency, it's still crucial not to ignore it. Common reasons for a steady check engine light include a faulty oxygen sensor, a loose gas cap, a malfunctioning catalytic converter, or issues with the engine's emissions control system. While your vehicle may still be drivable, it's best to have it checked by an ASE certified technician at Hoesly Automotive as soon as possible to prevent further damage or potential deterioration in fuel efficiency.

Flashing Check Engine Light

A flashing check engine light demands immediate attention. It typically indicates a severe problem with the engine that could lead to significant damage or pose a safety risk. Driving with a flashing check engine light is not recommended, as doing so can exacerbate the issue and may lead to engine misfires or catalytic converter damage. In such cases, it's best to pull over safely, turn off the engine, and seek professional auto repair assistance immediately.

Considerations for Continued Driving

While a steady check engine light doesn't necessarily mean you must stop driving immediately, there are some essential considerations to keep in mind:

Driving with a steady check engine light can be risky because you might not be aware of the actual problem, and it could potentially worsen while driving.
Modern vehicles have complex and interconnected systems. Ignoring the check engine light may lead to secondary issues and increase the cost of repairs.
Emissions-related issues can lead to failing an emissions test, which could result in legal and registration complications.
In some cases, your vehicle's onboard diagnostics system may enter a "limp mode," where it restricts engine performance to prevent further damage. This mode can limit your vehicle's drivability and power.
Some states and regions have regulations that require vehicles to pass regular emissions inspections. Driving with a check engine light on could cause your vehicle to fail these inspections.

Trust Hoesly Automotive When Your Check Engine Light Comes on

When your vehicle's check engine light comes on, it's not something to be taken lightly. While it may not always indicate a dire situation, it should never be ignored. A steady check engine light warrants attention and professional inspection at the earliest convenience to diagnose and rectify the problem.

If the check engine light is flashing, it indicates an urgent issue, and driving should be avoided to prevent potential safety hazards and extensive engine damage. In either case, it's best to consult an ASE certified technician or visit an auto repair shop equipped with diagnostic tools to accurately identify the issue and perform the necessary repairs.

Remember, proactive maintenance and timely attention to check engine light warnings can keep your vehicle running smoothly, ensure safety on the road, and help prevent more significant and costly problems in the long run.

And if you need any other service or repair, then please contact Hoesly Eco Automotive today.
You can reach us by phone at 360-695-5871 or click here to set up an appointment online.

We are your trusted auto repair shop for numerous makes and models, including:


Written by Hosely Automotive