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Check Engine idiot light

Why does my 1994 dakota pickup ONLY start and operate when the check engine light is illuminated? The minute the light goes off the truck stalls dead

Do the key trick to get the code. (DON’T START) ON-OFF-ON-OFF-ON (LEAVE ON) and count the flashes from the CEL. It will form a series of 2 digit numbers. They move kinda quick, so pay attention. FLASH-FLASH (pause) FLASH-FLASH-FLASH is 23 …etc. 55 is the last code.

Look here for definitions:

http://www.allpar.com/fix/80s-codes.html

…but this is a first for me. I’d love to see what this ends up being.

Same here. If you find the cause let us know. This is not normal by any stretch of the imagination.