Check engine light flashing?

Well, today was a, well let’s call it a duzie!!! I woke up happy and joyful because I have a job interview, Get in my car, try to start it and BAM it hits me. As I turn the key, the engine cranks up quick, kinda too quick, if you ask me. As I go to adjust my radio, I feel my car start to jump around and shake pretty rough. As I look at my gauges, I see my check engine light start to flash. So instead of trying to drive away, I turn it off and try to start it again. Same thing happens!! So I try it again and finally a normal start. Whew, I thought that was close. But oddly enough my check engine light comes on and stays on this time, no more flashing and the engine feels fine. Anyone know what the problem could be? Is it safe to drive my car? Anyone who can help, I would greatly appreciate it.

Safe, perhaps, but COSTLY!

A blinking CEL is telling you that you have a serious problem that needs to be addressed before driving the vehicle. As of this moment your car is on borrowed time. Have it towed to a shop of your choice.

Make, model, year, engine, auto/manual?

2000 buick pa 3.8 auto

If the car is currently behaving normally and the engine light is NOT flashing you can drive it into any big box auto parts store location where they will pull error codes from the computer for free. Write down the exact codes. They look like “P1234”

Don’t bother with what anyone says about the codes. Just write down the exact codes and post them.

Along with posting them give us the mileage and all the info you have about your maintenance history (especially around basic tune-up type items like plugs, wires, filters, etc.)

However, as mountainbike noted - if that light starts flashing do not drive it. The tow truck will cost you only a little bit in comparison to the damage you’ll do driving it with the light flashing.

Thanks cigroller! I will do that as soon as possible and get back to you with all the appropriate info. But just to be safe is it ok to drive on short trips? Under 15 miles as long as it’s not flashing?

There is no such thing as a sure thing - but if it seems to be running normally and the light is not flashing then you should be able to drive it enough to get it someplace for diagnosis & repair. But if you do and it starts flashing I’d pull over & call the truck.

AMAZING!!! I went down and started my car up it started up with no hezitation, once again, and what do I see on my dash??? Any guesses??? No check engine light!!! What could be doing this??? Earlier it was flashing, then solid, now it’s off??? I’m puzzled…should i go see a mechanic??? cuz now there’s no check engine light anymore so will they be able to tell me what’s wrong?? Either way, it’s running fine now but how long will it last???

Yes, the ECM should retain the codes. They can still be pulled. And, the light will stay off and the car will drive fine until the next episode. Could be today, could be next week, could be next month. The code will at least let us help you figure out what went wrong that one time. Maybe help figure out how to prevent the next episode.

This is pure speculation, but a flashing CEL usually means a major misfire has been detected. One possibility is, with weather starting to turn cooler overnight, that moisture caused the coil packs to leak high voltage, causing the misfire. But, the two attempts to start it was enough to dry up the moisture enough to stop the voltage from escaping. As I said, pure speculation, but if this were the case, you’ll have another episode soon, and it will get progressively worse.

As BustedKnuckles said the codes are still in there, but they will be “history” codes. Not all scanners will read them, including many of those at auto parts stores. So if you give an AP store a shot call around first to see if they can scan for history codes. (They still look like “P1234”)

I like BustedKnuckles guess about the moisture & the wires. How old are the plugs & wires? You can do a couple of simple things to investigate. At some point when it is dark, pop the hood and start the car. Watch for any signs of a “light show” around the area of the plugs, wires, and coils. You could also take a misting bottle with water in it and mist the wires with the car running. If misting the wires makes the engine stumble then you’ve likely found the issue.

I just bought the car in Jan. and didn’t get a tune up or anything only a couple oil changes, never had any problems before this. Better yet…I did have to repair my radiator recently, it had a slight crack around the intake, but I fixed it with some radiator repair stuff, kinda like a epoxy putty…got it from autozone. Was leaking anti-freeze and didn’t have the money for anti freeze at the time so I used water at the time. Also a slight oil leak …probably valve covers…so what I’m told. But other than that, it never had problems like this. But thanks for your input. It definitely helps me for when I go to the mechanic. Nobody wants to get screwed. I’m going to autozone in the morning to get the diagnostic thingy run. I will let you know what happens and what codes come up for further input.

And I don’t mean to be a pain, but what are coil packs and how can I repair it?? I’m a pretty handy person when it comes to mechanics…but I usually leave the grunt work for the guys who know what they are doing. But I’m gonna do what u said BustedKnuckles and go and check for the light show/ maybe splash a little water on the wires.

WELL… No light show but i did notice a slight ticking but ive always heard that. Hopefully we got 1 problem down 99 to go!!!

I’m sorry edb. Got the engine wrong. It’s a 3800.