When the check engine light, the service engine soon light, or the malfunction indicator light in your vehicle is flashing, it is an indication that a malfunction with your power-train has occurred.
The power-train is an umbrella term used to classify anything you need to make your vehicle go forward, including the engine, the transmission, or the all-wheel-drive if your car has an all-wheel-drive element. If this light is flashing, it is important to take your vehicle to be serviced as soon as possible.
What is a Check Engine Light?
The check engine light is part of your vehicle’s internal diagnostics system. This system is run by the vehicle’s computer, also known as the electronic control module (ECM).
The ECM controls nearly all of your vehicle’s internal systems and receives reports from the vehicle’s many sensors. For example, if one of your vehicle’s sensors detects something like below-average fuel injection or any other situation that might interfere with the performance of the vehicle, the ECM will try to rectify the problem itself. If the ECM cannot fix the problem internally, your check engine light will begin flashing.
What Does A Flashing Check Engine Light Mean?
If your check engine light is flashing, it generally means that your vehicle’s computer has detected a problem it cannot solve internally.
Your check engine light may be flashing for a short time before turning off completely, it may come on and remain illuminated continuously, or it may flash continuously. These variations are used to indicate the severity of the problem.
Check Engine Light: Intermittent Flashing
If the light is flashing intermittently, meaning it begins to flash and then turns off, this is referred to as a soft failure. This is typically observed when there is a failure in the electrical wiring, such as a loose or broken wire. The wire will connect and disconnect repeatedly, causing the light to flash and then turn off.
Check Engine Light: Continuous Illumination
If the light comes on and stays on, without flashing or turning off, this is referred to as a hard failure. This can refer to a sensor that needs to be cleaned or unusual engine emissions that will right themselves over time. A continuously illuminated check engine light is not always an emergency, especially if there is no noticeable difference in the performance of the car, but it is still advisable to have your vehicle looked at by a professional.
Check Engine Light: Continuous Flashing
If your check engine light begins flashing and does not stop, this is an indication that there is a severe problem that could cause serious damage to the vehicle. The most common cause of a continuously flashing light is engine misfire.
Why Is My Car Shaking?
If your check engine light is accompanied by your car shaking, there is cause for serious concern. The shaking feeling can be caused by misfires, poor fuel pressure, faulty spark plugs, or a broken engine mount. The engine mounts are rubber grips that hold the engine to the chassis of the vehicle. These can become loose or faulty over time.
Any of these can cause the engine to vibrate or shake abnormally, which will then reverberate over the frame of the vehicle, possibly causing issues with fuel timing or ignition.
Should you experience heavy shaking or vibrating accompanied with your check engine light flashing, seek a professional to examine your vehicle immediately.
What Do I Do If My Check Engine Light Is Flashing?
If your check engine light is on or if it is flashing, or if your car is shaking, or both, you have several options. You can take your car to a dealership, an independent shop, or attempt to diagnose the problem yourself. Each of these options has its own drawbacks and advantages.
Taking Your Car to an Independent Shop, Like CBS Collision
Independent shops will sometimes specialize in specific types of cars, but for the most part, they work on a variety of different vehicles. They can typically provide you with a full diagnosis if your check engine light is flashing and repair your vehicle, and maybe a slightly cheaper option than a dealership. Car dealership employees are typically very passionate about cars and helping customers in their times of car crisis.
Diagnosing the Problem Independently
If your check engine light is flashing or if your car is shaking, your engine’s computer has likely stored a “trouble” code in the car’s memory. This code refers to the origin of the problem which caused the check engine light to come on. This diagnostic code can be accessed with an OBD-II scanner, which can be purchased at an auto parts shop. However, you will likely still need a professional to repair the vehicle.
Contact CBS Collision if Your Check Engine Light is Flashing!
For more information about collision and auto body repair:
call our Bossier City location at 318-741-2373,
or our Shreveport location at 318-636-6134.
You can also request an estimate on our website!