Engine light on and car stuttering...but no all the time

Our Ford Tauras SL, 2000 has been a great car and we keep it maintained. We have been driving a lot since last November due to treatments at MDAnderson, about 7 hours away. When we fill up with gas the engine light comes on and car starts stuttering. As the gas is used the light goes off and most of stuttering stops. We are paying $70 in the morning for a diagnostic. I hate paying that much but guess we have to. Would be nice to see what you think about it.

If the CEL coincides with fillups at the gas station, it is more likely that the problem has to do with the evaporative emissions system. For your sake, I hope that it is something on the cheaper end of the spectrum like a bad purge valve, rather than the carbon canister.

Please come back to this thread to report on the diagnostic findings.

Go to a local auto parts store and see if they loan out OBD2 code readers for free. Plug it into your port (look around your knees, drivers side under dash.)

Then report back here what the code reader says.


As VDC said, it is most likely something wrong with the evaporative system in your car. The gas tank has several parts which are devised to catch all fumes/vapors generated in the tank, so that they do not vent in to the atmosphere and polute.

The cheaper alternative to your $70 diagnostic as Goldwing says, is to take your car to a local parts store (AutoZone, Checkers, Advanced Auto, etc, etc) and ask them to scan it. Most of them do this for free…Call ahead and make sure they do this in your area. Come back and post here the DTC codes.

Hmmm…This is interesting.
My post (above) was originally the second post in the thread!

The first one, from someone whose screen name was unfamiliar, told her that she had a clogged cat converter, and that she should buy a “cat cleaner” product that I had never before heard of. Now I am beginning to suspect that the missing response was from someone flogging their own product.

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.

I noticed that too. In any event, it was wrong.

I was told AutoZone will do that for free and will go by there this afternoon.

I’m not sure what the MIL/CEL light is. The light that comes on looks like an engine. The car does not overheat and had an oil change last week. I will let you know tomorrow about the the codes.

Malfunction indicator light / check engine light. MIL is OBD 2 talk. Your owner’s manual will tell you which light is which and what they mean.

thank you everyone for the replies. I took it to autozone and had the obd2 checked. Unfortunely, I forgot to get the codes but asked if he could tell if it was an exhaust problem. He said no so went to Southwest automotive, paid $70 for a an engine check up. We needed a tune-up and filters, gas, oil, etc. They did this for the magnificent price of $436! I wanted to walk out but my husband was so worried. We drove back to Houston Sunday. Anyway, We drove home and Saturday went out. They engine light is on again but automotative shop closed. We drove to Houston with light on. No overheating, nothing and drove like a tank. we will take it in asa we get back. Our book on the car said it could be the catalytic convertor so back to square 1.

"Our book on the car said it could be the catalytic convertor so back to square 1."
Yes, but it could also be any one of about a thousand other things. If you would just post to use the five character OBDII code(s), we could help.