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My Check Engine Light Is Flashing What Should I Do?

Posted by: All About Automotive on June 22, 2011

When the Check Engine or Service Engine Soon light illuminates on your dash, it means that your vehicle’s computer recognizes that there is a system or sensor that is working out of it’s proper parameters.  This indicates a problem, the computer tries to compensate for that problem and keep the vehicle running as close to normal as possible.

When the Check Engine or Service Engine Soon light starts flashing this means that a catalytic converter damaging condition is occurring.  Usually you will be able to feel a noticeable difference in the performance of your vehicle.When this Check Engine or Service Engine Soon light flashes you should pull over safely and shut the vehicle off.  Have the vehicle towed to your trusted repair facility for a diagnosis and repair. Continuing to drive this vehicle, in this condition will do further damage and could cost more to repair.Depending on the type and age of vehicle you drive, causes a huge variance on the replacement cost of a catalytic converter.

The other thing to look at is a lot of the vehicle’s we drive in the Pacific Northwest are manufactured to meet California Emissions Standards.  What that means to you is that, if the catalytic converter in your vehicle fails, it needs to be replaced with a catalytic converter that meets California Emissions Standards, otherwise it will not coincide with the emissions calibration on your vehicle’s computer and could still signal a catalytic converter efficiency code, which will illuminate your check engine or service engine soon light.  When your light is illuminated or if there are current codes stored in the computer of your vehicle it will not pass DEQ.There are pros and cons to your vehicle meeting California Emissions Standards.  The pro is that your vehicle runs much cleaner for our environment, since California holds higher standards than Oregon.  The con is that they have emission devices installed on them that Federal Emission Vehicles do not and the catalytic converter that is original equipment is impregnated with a lot more precious metals, making the cost of the correct replacement part substantially more.

One other thing to keep in mind is that if you are shopping for a new car, it is not advised to purchase one with a Check Engine or Service Engine light on.  If you are really interested in the vehicle, invest in having it professionally diagnosed before the purchase.  Then you can make an informed decision as to whether the vehicle is worth buying based on the repair that it needs.Remember whenever your Check Engine or Service Engine  light is on, your vehicle is most likely not meeting Oregon’s emission standards and it will not pass DEQ.  When it is flashing the condition the computer sees is a catalytic converter damaging condition.  We would not recommend continuing to drive the vehicle.  Either way it is advisable to have it brought to your trusted repair facility for a diagnosis and repair.

Steve and Karen Johnston are owners of All About Automotive in Historic Downtown Gresham. If you have questions or comments, call them at 503-465-2926 or email them at cars@allaboutautomotive.com. Steve and Karen Johnston are owners of All About Automotive, providing auto repair and auto maintenance in Historic Downtown Gresham. If you have questions or comments, call them at 503-465-2926 or email them at cars@allaboutautomotive.com, you can also visit our website at www.allaboutautomotive.com.


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