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Blinking engine light

HI My chk engine light has been on for a lonnnggg time. anyway, it failed emissions but other than that it hasn’t acted funny at all. last week my chk engine light starting blinking and it feels like the car may stall. eventually the light goes steady again. i have a lot of miles on the car and deciding whether or not to fix it. any ideas? thnks kate

A flashing check-engine light is normally a serious problem that you have to fix.

For future reference, driving around with a steady light and no idea what’s wrong is not the best idea. Many problems that cause a check-engine light can reduce your miles per gallon, sometimes drastically. You may have already wasted hundreds of dollars just in gas money by not fixing this problem right away, not to mention that the original problem might now have caused a different more expensive problem.

Well, as the old saying says, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later”. Unfortunately, “later” invariably translates into higher spending as the first electronic or mechanical problem cascades into another, and another and… Instead of resolving what could have been a fairly minor problem when the CEL first starting glowing a long time ago, you apparently deferred things until the situation got worse.

As was said, you have likely already used much more gas than necessary during that period of time, and now you have the blinking light which tells you that repairs can no longer be deferred. You state that you are not sure about whether to fix the car or not, but unless you are planning on driving it directly to a junk yard, I don’t think that you have an option.

If you plan on keeping it, your car must pass the emissions test in order to have a valid registration. And, if you are planning on selling it, only someone VERY ignorant would buy a car that has a blinking CEL, and you may not find someone that ignorant.

You’ll have to take it to someone with a code reader.

Most garages will charge a “diagnostic fee” and give you a report.

The tricky thing is that the codes don’t always point exactly to the problem. For example an oxygen sensor code could be caused by a bad fuel injector.

But if you get a list of codes, the garage should be able to tell you how serious the problems are. Otherwise we’re just guessing in the dark.

Take it to a mechanic for a diagnosis (typical charge $40-$100+) and estimate. Go from there. If you want free help take it to a local autoparts chain and have the codes read and write them all down and post back.

This could be something as simple as a bad or unseated spark plug wire to something considerably more expensive.

Your car has little value in this condition given it won’t pass emmissions. And for example in MA if you sell the car the person can make you pay for repairs or you must refund their money.

When you post back include car year, make, model and mileage at least beyond codes.

“only someone VERY ignorant would buy a car that has a blinking CEL”

A junkyard would buy it, or sell at an auto auction. Price will be revoltingly low.

That CEL (check engine light) is just a kid in class waving her hand trying to get you attention because she has the answer. You need to have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code (like P0123) not just their translation into English and post it back here. 

Regarding warning lights:

  1. if the coolant temp light comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

  2. if the oil warning light comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

  3. if a FLASHING MIL/CEL comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

    ASAP means driving to the berm of the highway right now and not waiting for the next exit.

But if the MIL/CEL is not flashing, then it’s not an urgent indicator.

What is a MIL/CEL? You said that a CEL was a “check engine light.” So, what does the MIL stand for?

MIL = Multifunction Indicator Lamp CEL = Check Engine Light. They tend to be used interchangeably. I am not sure if that is technically correct to use them interchangeable.

Yes, Kate, go to an auto parts store and ask them to do the free check of the check engine light code. Then, bring those numbers here. The numbers will be something like P0301. We can tell you where to go for repair once we’ve read the codes. OK?

I think the “official” term for the auto industry is MIL - but I think that when the instrument panels were designed the designer probably thought that “Check Engine” would make more sense to the customer than “Malfunction Indication.” So “Check Engine” is often what the light says. They are the same thing, though.

And some wonder why I carp constantly about most car problems being owner inflicted.

I have a 1993 Ford Aerostar with a 4.0 liter engine. My check engine light is on but not blinking yet. I took it to autozone and they gave me the code PO33 and said it might be the EGR valve but it might not be. I would have bought the EGR valve and put it on myself if they could have said they were sure that was the problem. I am wondering if Slick50 would unplug the EGR valve. I’m thinking it might but would like some more experienced input. Can anyone help me determine the best move to make.

AutoZone is not in the auto repair or automobile diagnosis business,they just read the code,for the previously mentioned services a mechanic is suggested.

Why would you think Slick50 could be of help with your EGR? do they advertise their product for this purpose?

Why would you think Slick50 could be of help with your EGR? do they advertise their product for this purpose?

I am a poor disabled man with an analytical mind that can’t afford to pay a professional mechanic so I have to find ways to fix transportation I can find for as little as possible.

I bought a 1972 motorhome back in the 90’s with 5 cracked pistons, cracked head and other engine problems I can’t remember at this time, that would only go 40 mph. I changed the oil and put a quart of slick50 in it. It spit and coughed and huffed and puffed for 50 miles and finally it coughed up what ever was in there and vroooom 40,50,60,70,80 mph and I backed off because it wasn’t done increasing speed yet. I drove it for another 1500 miles or so and reached the state of my cousin (a mechanic) and he rebuilt the engine for me. I’m not a professional mechanic and can’t afford expensive repairs. I’m the poor sucker most everyone tries to get as much for theur junk as they can get. I thank GOD for the few honest people left in this world that think more of people than money. Sorry I get a little upset when I think of all the dishonest used car salesmen and individuals that have lied to me in my lifetime.

So you already have your answer,Slick50 enabled you to travel 1500 miles in a vehicle with 5 cracked pistons a cracked head and other engine problems,what other testamonials do you need? Cleaning a EGR should be easy,thats analytical thinking,right?

Would just appreciate an experienced professionals honest opinion as to whether or not they agree or disagree that slick50 could work in a newer 93 fuel injected engine with the computer brains and all, compared to a '72 older model. And if I am on the right track.

Slick50 was advertised as a superior engine lubricant (makes your engine last longer)It has not lived up to its advertised claims.It never was advertised as a engine repair product, what is it you are getting at when you say “could work”?

Kate Ct.,
If you don’t talk to us, how are we going to help you? Or, are you all better, now?

By “could work” I mean could it clean out the EGR valve of whatever is clogging it up?