Car speedometer showing Check Engine light

Do This When Your Check Engine Light Flashes

Automobiles today utilize many more pieces of technology than they traditionally used to. Modern-day vehicles have multiple control modules as well as electronically controlled systems. Although automobiles come in all shapes and forms, they must all subject to standardized regulations and safety regulations. Setting a standard made things universally safer and easier for technicians to work on.

One of those standardized regulations was the use of OBD2 system diagnostics, which was primarily used to regulate car use. While regulating car use, the use of an OBD2 scanner made diagnosing your vehicle drastically easier if something went wrong, although it could do many more things.

What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?

The bright orange or yellow engine light on your instrument cluster is nothing to ignore. The check engine light, or malfunction indicator lamp, is illuminated once the ECU recognizes that something is out of its recommended parameters, indicating that something is wrong.

This light can be triggered by electrical and mechanical issues but was mainly designed to protect its internal components and promote longevity. While even the simplest things can trigger the check engine light, you should always tend to it because it could be something detrimental.

In this instance, a flashing check engine light unanimously means that your engine is misfiring. This is when your engine’s fuel, oxygen, or spark isn’t properly working together, and can seriously damage your car if left unresolved.


Why Does the Check Engine Light Trigger?

Diagnosing the engine bay of a car to see what components are causing the issue.

The malfunction indicator lamp is triggered when a component on your vehicle isn’t functioning the way it should. Oftentimes, the diagnostic system detects an issue before the driver senses one. This light is triggered by one of the many sensors on your vehicle when something is out of its recommended parameter.

Your automobile features a host of sensors that gather different types of information for the various components of your car. These sensor components are listed as followed:

  • Camshaft Position Sensor
  • Coolant Temperature Sensor
  • Crankshaft Position Sensor
  • Mass Air Flow Sensor (MAF Sensor)
  • Manifold Absolute Pressure Sensor (MAP Sensor)
  • Oxygen Sensors (O2 Sensor)

These sensors all work in unison to send the necessary information to the ECU. Should the ECU detect an inefficiency or fault, the check engine light is illuminated.

How Do You Fix a Check Engine Light?

Picture of a wired Autel OBD2 Scanner

First, you must identify what is causing the problem. Luckily, car technology has advanced drastically as time passed, so we no longer have to deal with ancient interfaces — also courtesy of the emission laws from the EPA. Modern-day cars utilize OBD2 a diagnostic system that was light years ahead of its predecessor, OBD1, that allows us to scan our ECU to see when something is wrong.

This was because OBD1 was only designed to regulate emissions and implement fuel injection, so it couldn’t detect if things were malfunctioning. This drastically extended the time needed to diagnose an issue since you manually had to check each component.

The use of OBD2 made it easier for consumers to identify what’s wrong with their vehicle. OBD2 scanners make this possible, by identifying the code that your car triggered. These canners come in an array of wired and wireless designs, but all do the same thing. OBD2 scanners make it possible to identify what code is being triggered. Upon identifying the fault code, you can then proceed to narrow down your problem area.

Particularly, in this case, a flashing check engine light unanimously means that there is a misfire in one of your cylinders. You should not proceed to drive your vehicle, but first assess the problem. Things like frayed wires or loose connections can cause a misfire, similar to how faulty parts can cause one. If the issue is severe enough, you may need to find a replacement. Should you need a rental, we’ve rounded up the best car rental apps to keep you moving.

A Convenient Piece of Tech

The use of OBD2 system diagnostics has made everyone’s lives easier and can save you lots of money diagnosing the problems yourself. If your check engine light is on, make sure to get it checked immediately as it could be serious.


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