Astoria Mechanic | Collision Repair | Tolimas Auto Center

Solid and Flashing Check Engine Light

Difference Between a Solid Check Engine Light and a Flashing Check Engine Light

At some point every driver gets a check engine light, but there are also situations where you get a flashing check engine light. We will discuss what the deference between them and why one of them can should be checked out at your earliest convenience and the other requires you to get it checked as soon as possible. The worse thing you can do is completely ignore any check engine light and keep driving as mechanical and electrical problems in cars have a cascading effect where failure of one component will lead to the failure of others if ignored. Also if your State Inspection is due then a check engine light is an automatic fail in New York State.

What causes a Solid Check Engine Light

There are multiple computer systems in every modern car. Each computer system has multiple sensors that report various readings to them such as the density of air coming into the engine for combustion or coolant temperature. The main computer in your car has a set of parameters that is compares the data it receives from each sensor to. If the data being sent out by the sensor is deemed not to be normal by the main computer, you’ll get a check engine light. Sometimes the check engine light will turn off after some more driving if the sensor reading falls back into normal parameters.

What causes a Flashing Check Engine Light

Your computer prioritizes data from different sensors. There is some data your computer receives that is considered more important because it can more adversely affect the drivability and emissions of your car. For example all cars have something called an Initial Air Temperature sensor. This sensor tells the computer how cold or hot the air coming into your engine is. Then the computer can make adjustments to give you a little more power if the air is colder because it is more densely packed with oxygen. Or make adjustments for hotter air which has less oxygen. The data given by this sensor is valuable but not critical as the computer will only make small adjustments based on this data stream. Then you have data from the Mass Air Flow sensor or Air Meter (same sensor has both names) which tells the computer the actual volume of air coming into the engine. The computer then uses this data to adjust the amount of fuel sprayed by the injectors. If the MAF sensor were to go bad or produce bad data because it was damaged or clogged with debris then the engine would start to run very poorly. Your engine would start to misfire. This would immediately set a check engine light on your dash. Then depending on the severity of the misfires you would get a flashing check engine light.

Severe misfires send unburned fuel through your exhaust which can cause all sorts of damage such as burnt valves, but most importantly they can damage emissions equipment. Your catalytic converter which cleans your exhaust can be destroyed from the added heat when the unburnt fuel combusts. Any condition in which the computer detects the catalytic converter can be damaged or destroyed will cause you to have a Flashing Check Engine Light.

Why Flashing Check Engine Light Means Get It Fixed Now

The conditions that lead to poor running conditions in which a catalytic converter can be destroyed are serious, but can be okay if the car is diagnosed and repaired quickly. Aside from bad sensors serious engine mechanical damage can cause things such as oil and other chemicals to leak into the exhaust which will destroy the catalytic converter. If these engine components are placed in time then there is a good change your catalytic and engine can have a longer service life. If the car is driven with the flashing check engine light then the damage will continue and get worse until you experience serious failure. Then things will get very expensive as the repairs can be major. If you get a flashing check engine light then stop driving your car or drive it directly to your closest trusted mechanic. If you have any questions always feel free to reach out to us at Tolima’s Auto Center.

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