Hi, I’m hoping to get some advice on an intermittently blinking check engine light in a 2003(?) Ford Escape. I received a call from my fiance, who’s about 45 minutes into a two hour drive. On the interstate, her check engine light started blinking, so she pulls off the interstate to a gas station (the light was blinking for maybe five minutes before she could stop, according to her). After she was off the interstate, but before she had turned the engine off, the blinking stopped.
She called me, and I looked up and directed her to an AutoZone about a half mile from where she was. Told her to drive there, and have them to try to read any codes from the engine. She drives over, engine light stays off the entire time. They hook up the reader, and there aren’t any codes. My question is, if the check engine light stops blinking, and there aren’t any codes for the reader, is the car safe to drive, or will she destroy the cat if she keeps going? Also, it’s raining, if that matters for any reason.
Thanks - and if I’ve left out any relevant information, let me know and I’ll try to answer!
A blinking engine light is bad. She does stand a good chance of doing expensive damage even to the engine. If the light is off or just stays on solid, its probably ok. But if it starts flashing she should just pull over.
The rain is probably completely relevant. A blinking engine light is often a serious misfire. Without knowing anything else, I’d have to assume that moisture is interfering with spark plug wires, coils, or perhaps the crank sensor.
There are code readers that will pull history codes - i.e. ones that will find whatever codes were there when the light was on. You might have to pay a shop for that.
Here’s the manual.
The blinking light indicates a misfire, “drive moderately and have your vehicle serviced immediately.” It’s probably fine temporarily if it’s not flashing any more, but I’d stay off the highway, use secondary roads, and get it serviced ASAP.
A blinking MIL indicates a misfire which means that raw gasoline is entering the cat convertor and will eventually burn out the cat if not corrected.
That flashing light is not saying have it checked out sometime next week, it is saying stop the car at the first safe spot. Not convenient, but safe. Continuing to drive can cause damage. If it were me that had a flashing CEL, I would drive to the side of the road and use my cell phone to call my wife and ask her to pick me up.
Continuing to drive can be unsafe and expensive.