You’re driving along and suddenly the check engine light comes on. You know that it’s generally not a good idea to drive with the light on, but how long can you safely drive with the check engine light on before addressing the issue?
If the check engine light comes on and is flashing, then there is a serious problem with the vehicle. Do not drive the car until you have a mechanic look at it. However, if the check engine light is a solid illuminated light, then the problem is minor and you can continue to drive for 50-100 miles.
If after 100 miles the check engine light remains on, then its recommended to have a mechanic run a scan for error codes.
Most people know that when the check engine light comes on in their car, it’s not a good sign. But many don’t realize what triggers a check engine light, or how long they can continue to drive before the car becomes inoperable.
In this post, we’ll take a look at common causes for a check engine light and what you should do if it comes on. Let’s get into the details!
Will I Damage My Car Driving with a Blinking Check Engine Light?
The blinking check engine light is a very serious situation and should not be ignored. It indicates that your vehicle’s mechanics are misfiring. Continuing to drive with a blinking check engine light could cause costly damage to parts like the catalytic converter or valve train.
It’s always best to get a car to a mechanic as soon as possible. The last thing you want is to cause extension damage to your vehicle over something as inexpensive as a bad fuel injector or sensor.
What is the Most Common Reason for Check Engine Light?
One of the most common reasons for a check engine light is a loose fuel cap. A loose gas cap will not only let in dirt and grime, but it will also allow fuel vapors to escape. Because your car is constantly running tests on the vehicle’s systems as you drive, it will detect vapors escaping and trigger the check engine light.
This is easily fixed by tightening the gas cap and then driving for 50-100 miles to clear to the check engine light.
If tightening the gas cap doesn’t make the check engine light turn off, it might be time to check the engine. There could be a problem with the fuel system, or something else entirely. In any case, it’s best to take the car to a mechanic and have them scan the error codes.
Can Bad Gas Cause Check Engine Light to Come On?
Another common reason for a check engine light is from weak or bad gas. Bad gasoline isn’t common, but it winds up in the tanks of vehicles more often than you might think. It can often lead to all kinds of issues, such as rough idle, stalling, reduced fuel economy, and pinging sounds. All of which will trigger the check engine light.
How long can you drive with check engine light on depends on just how bad the gas is that went into your vehicle. Bad gas typically contains higher amounts of water or sediment, diluting it’s octane rating.
However, your vehicles computer should detect this condition and reduce the amount of power the car is capable of. This protects the engine’s vital components.
Once at a half tank of gasoline, fill up at a premium top-tier fuel station. The gas at premium top-tier fuel stations contains fewer impurities and higher octane levels.
After driving for a few miles, you may find that the check engine light turns off. This is often indicative of a weak or bad tank of gas.
Can you Pass Emissions with Check Engine Light On?
A vehicle will not pass an emissions test if the check engine light is on. This indicates that there is a problem with the vehicle’s emission system that needs to be fixed.
Your check engine light could be a sign of something serious. It will not allow you to pass your emissions test if it’s illuminated and this could reveal either an easy fix or more complicated problems that require a professional mechanic.
Can a Check Engine Light Turn Off by Itself?
Yes, if the condition that triggered the check engine light to come on is no longer present, the light with automatically turn itself off.
Some cars have computers that are very sensitive. This can be a problem if there is a software update available resolving an issue with a sensor. However, vehicle owners are not always made aware of available software updates until they take the vehicle in for service.
What Auto Places Does Free Scans for Check Engine Light?
If your cars check engine light is on and you’re not sure what the problem is, don’t worry. Practically all major auto parts stores can scan your car’s trouble codes for free. So just bring your car in and they’ll be able to tell you what’s wrong in no time.
While it is always best to err on the side of caution and take your car in for a mechanic’s inspection if the check engine light comes on, there are times when you can drive it for a short distance. If the illuminated check engine light is solid, then chances are that the problem is minor and you can continue to drive for 50-100 miles before taking it in for service. Just be sure to keep an eye on the light and don’t push your vehicle too hard during this time.
If your car’s check engine light is flashing, pull over and call a tow truck.
As inconvenient a check engine light may be, think of it like a shield for your car. Without it, your car would be vulnerable to all sorts of damage. Either way, don’t ignore the check engine light!
Last Updated on July 19, 2022
Loves anything with a motor and wheels.
Christopher is an internet technology expert and mechanical engineer. When he’s not at the local autocross event, he can often be found working on one of his cars. He loves nothing more than taking something apart and putting it back together again–better than before. Learn more about us