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Check engine light stays on in 1999 Civic

Am considering buying this car. Has passed state inspection, but check engine light stays on.

What does this mean? Worst case? Best case?

Approximate cost to fix either case?

Thanks in advance for all insights.

don’t know until the codes are read. If OBD II, places like Advance Auto and some Autozones will read the codes for free. Post back with exact code, year, make and model of car. Surprised the inspection process allowed it to pass. Usually this is an automatic flunk. Does the inspection sheet explain what the code is and why it was dismissed?

Maybe it was not an emissions inspection…Code(s) have been recorded in the cars computer that can be recovered and will explain why the light is on…The light can be reset by disconnecting the battery for 30 seconds. Maybe it will stay off. Resetting the computer will delete the stored codes so read them before you reset it…

If any repair is needed or a check engine light is on, there is no way you should consider buying it. Ever.

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.