What To Do When Your “Check Engine” Warning Light Stays On

Today’s modern cars have a plethora of electronic systems in place. They make sure that our cars and their ancillary functions are working to almost military precision.

When you get behind the wheel of your car, you will get greeted by a plethora of warning and information lights on the dashboard. The most-important dashboard light is the “check engine” warning light. It is an orange light and often has an engine symbol depicted on it.


When you turn your car’s ignition on, that light, as with many others, will illuminate. About a second after the engine starts, the CEL will extinguish. When that happens, it means that your engine’s electronics haven’t reported any problems.

But what happens if you start your engine, and the CEL stays on? Some folks might panic at this point, sensing an expensive repair bill looming ahead. Whereas others might pretend the light isn’t on and drive as normal! Some people might get that light confused with the “service car soon” light.

When the CEL stays on, your car is telling you that there is a problem with the engine. You should not ignore this warning as you could further damage your engine. And then you will get faced with a huge repair bill for sure!

In today’s blog post, I will tell you what you need to do if you ever encounter this problem with your car.

The CEL turns on and offer, or flickers during normal driving

Sometimes the CEL might flicker or illuminate on an intermittent basis. When that happens, you should note when this occurs. For example, does it happen when you drive over a bump in the road? Does it only happen when the engine gets hot? Maybe it only happens when the engine fan turns on?

In any case, you should get the problem diagnosed by a mechanic. Lifestyle Mazda says you should drive your car as little as possible when you get those intermittent CEL warnings.

The CEL stays on, but the engine sounds OK

If you don’t notice any difference in engine sounds, the problem might be down to a faulty sensor. Does your car drive OK? If so, the most-common cause of the problem is the oxygen (emissions control) sensor failing.

You can buy a fault code reader that plugs into your car’s diagnostic port to confirm which sensor is reporting a problem. It’s an inexpensive and handy gadget that can tell you what fault code gets stored by your car’s ECU (engine control unit). The ECU keeps a record of all fault codes.

The CEL stays on, and the engine sounds rough

At this point, it is likely something more serious is wrong with your car’s engine. I recommend that you turn your engine off immediately and call for breakdown assistance!

If that happens when you’re driving, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so and call for help. It’s hard to say what might cause these problems. The main culprits are down to broken cam belts or chains.

Thanks for reading, see you again soon!

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Published on: August 26, 2014

Filled Under: Cars

Views: 4332

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