Blinking check engine light, strangely running car



hi there,

when i started up my 200 Honda Civic (automatic) this morning, the check engine light (which has been on for a while anyway) starting blinking, and the car was running strangely – it felt like something below me was shaking – or like it was about to stall – i shut it off, waited a bit, and turned it back on again – the light was on solidly, and the car was acting less funky, so i then drove it around the block. still, very strange! any ideas? thanks!


The light is a warning signal that you are ignoring at your peril. If you continue to ignore it there may come a day when the engine won’t run at all.

A solidly lit CEL indicates a problem with the emissions or engine control system. A flashing CEL is a warning of imminent disaster.

Take the car to a mechanic and find out why the CEL is on.

Then have the car repaired.


Yes, you should do the following:

Shut off the engine for the time being, at least.
Read the text in your Owner’s Manual regarding the Check Engine Light (CEL).
Immediately take the car to a competent mechanic for overdue maintenance, or possibly repairs necessitated by lack of maintenance.

Your first mistake was ignoring the steadily illuminated CEL for more than a brief period of time. That light was signalling you that something was amiss, and that you should have the car checked as soon as it is convenient. When problems of this nature are not attended to promptly, they wind up causing more serious problems, at which point the CEL begins blinking. Once the CEL is blinking, that means you have to get to a mechanic pronto.

When the CEL was first illuminated on a steady basis, there may have been only one mechanical/electronic problem. By ignoring it, that one problem likely cascaded into multiple problems. Once these multiple problems were in effect, the situation became critical–hence the blinking CEL.

If you really expect to be able to drive this car without it breaking down, stranding you, and resulting in ever-higher repair bills, it needs to be serviced NOW.


If you read your owner’s manual, it would tell you that a flashing check engine light means that your engine is misfiring, and it is quickly destroying your expensive catalytic converter(s).


alright, got it. by the way, people don’t response to arrogant cynicism.


You’re welcome!


What does that mean, you’ve “got it”, and “arrogant cynicism”? You’ve got what, and what “arrogant cynicism”?


I’ve seen some arrogant cynicism on this site - the above wasn’t it.


We have all tried to provide a response that answers the OP’s questions, but I guess that the OP did not get any answers that he/she liked, so I will try to provide some information/opinions that the OP does like. After all, we do aim to please!

He/she may prefer these suggestions:

Just ignore the flashing CEL.
The problems will fix themselves.
You have done nothing wrong by ignoring it.
Your car never needs maintenance or repair.
Above all, never read the Owner’s Manual, as there is nothing to be gained from looking at that book.

Is that more to your liking, dcrommett?

(Note: Now the OP can see what arrogant cynicism really looks like.)


The CEL is there to warn you of a problem. A flshing light means there is a bigger problem and driving it may be dangerous or may damage the engine.

Many auto part stores will check the code for free and tell you what they are. They should be in the form [P1234]. If you post back here again we may be able to tell you what the next step sould be.


You came here for an answer. You’ve decided not to look in your owner’s manual and you’re doing something that could soon damage your car. Why are you mad that people are telling you that?


You’ve gotten a lot of good advice here worded to get your attention and make a clear and direct point, from people who are trying to help you for free and out of the goodness of their hearts. If you choose to not respond to it because you interpret it as being arrogant and cynical, then we’ll see you here soon wondering if it’s worth $4000 to replace the engine on a 200? Civic.

See you soon.


The tribe has circled the wagons and spoken.


As Jack Webb used to say on TV’s Dragnet: “Just the facts Ma’m!”. I had a call last week from a friend who said his engine light was on (steady) on his 1997 Taurus, and what should he do. This guy is a retired engineer. I advised him to take it to his mechanic right away, since something was malfunctioning. He did that, and will keep me posted as to what was required.

Real arrogance is not responding to warning lights and assuming they don’t apply to you or your car!