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Flashing engine light

I have a 2003 vw golf, 5 speed. check engine light flashes after a big rain. mechanic has replaced the fuse box and spark plugs, but the problem continues. any ideas?

Flashing light often means a misfire. Can you post the codes that the engine reader prints out? Use the “P0123” codes not the english translations.

Does the light ever go out on its own?

My ex once had the same VW Golf–we used to joke that the check engine light on this car should be a flashing green $

Not without knowing why the light is flashing. This means that a code, or plural of that word, is present and the code(s) are only a starting point.

What codes are stored when the light flashes?

Can you tell us why the mechanic replaced the fuse box and the spark plugs?

Is the splash shield under the front of the car still in place?

I don’t know what codes it’s producing… How do I find that out?
The splash shield under the front of the car is not still in place! Could this be the culprit? It cracked about a year ago and my mechanic just tore it off, said it wasn’t important.
Sometimes the light does go out on its own but even then it’s running funny, on less than full steam…
It should be a flashing green $! I’ve already spent $500!!!

Could be part of the problem, yes. It’s designed to help airflow through the engine compartment, and keep excess water from splashing up over the more sensitive (although theoretically sealed) electronic components.

Which engine do you have, btw? 2 different ones were available in the GTI and normal version.

You’ll have to either have someone read the codes (ask them not to clear the codes, just read them). You can stop in at most parts places like Autozone, Advance, O’Reilly’s, etc. They want to sell you stuff, so they’re happy to read the codes and advise. Be sure and get the actual codes, and not their version of what the problem is.

Will do.
I’m not sure which engine I have… It’s not a GTI, I know that…
Also - unrelated question since you guys are so helpful: the car is making an eerie/squeaky/creaking sound coming from the right front wheel area. Is my wheel about to fall off? Sounds like a suspension issue I’m guessing but is it essential to fix? I’m a poor graduate student and I commute 3x/week an hour each way to school so my car’s health and wellbeing is pretty essential.

Unfortunately, based on your description of the eerie noise there isn’t any way to give a good guess. It is actually possible that your wheel is getting ready to fall off (e.g. from a bad wheel bearing). Its also possible that you’re getting down the the wear indicators on your brakes. That would mean a brake job, though its probably not an immediate emergency. But its also possible that its something harmless like a bent dust shield rubbing on the rotor.

You just need to have a good front end shop have a look.

Friend of mine had a sounds that was almost like an old creaky bedframe sorta sound coming from his truck. It was the bushings on the lower A-arm. We replaced the 4 bushings (2 upper, 2 lower) for about $40, in my garage, in about 2 hours.

Get someone to figure out what it is…that’s the first step. Sounds are hard to pin down from a keyboard. As cigroller said, it could be nothing important, or it could be vital.

thanks everybody. took it to my local mechanic who said the flashing check engine was the spark plugs (they sprayed water on them to verify) and the jury’s still out on the creaking.

Creak is most likely bad strut top bearing. Any clunking when hitting a bump?

I vaguely remember that the early 2000s veedubs had a campaign for the ignition coil, with the symptoms being a flashing Check Engine Light and reduced power. A friend of mine had a Jetta (2000 VR6) with the same symptoms and his came up under a campaign to replace the coil. It might be worth checking to see if your Golf was part of the campaign, and if the coil was ever replaced.

$400 later i have new spark plugs and wires. mechanics didn’t hear the creak on 2 test drives. ignition coil is an interesting guess. i’ll definitely mention that if it happens again. and let’s hope the creak is gone for good but i’m not holding my breath.

Your mechanic didn’t even think to actually CHECK the codes for the reason it was flashing, and told you something that was attached to the car “wasn’t important”?

My guess is you need a new mechanic

I’m I missing something. As I recall a flashing CEL means it may be a serious problem and it is likely a good idea to pick a safe place to park your car until you know more or until a tow truck arrives than to continue driving with that flashing lamp?

-You need to get the stored trouble codes from the engine computer to have a chance of understanding what’s happening here.
-Ignition coils have been a trouble spot on VWs. There have been several recalls. While I don’t know if your car is affected, it might be a good starting point if you are getting misfire codes.
-A flashing check engine light means a serious malfunction. The car should not be driven when this occurs, as you are risking damage to your expen$ive catalytic converter, and possibly other parts.
-Your mechanic must have been smoking something if he thought the fuse box was the culprit, unless there’s more to the story that we haven’t heard yet.
-I would get the creaking suspension checked out. It could be something annoying but relatively harmless, like worn bushings, but could also mean you have a more serious problem and the suspension on that side may buckle. No way to tell without checking it.

Count my vote as finding another mechanic. He tore the cracked splash shield off and tossed it into the dumpster with the proclamation that it’s not important? Jeez.

Ever heard the analogy about the horseshoe that was missing a nail. For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of shoe the horse was lost, For want of a horse the king was lost. For want of a king the battle was lost. After that comes loss of a war, loss of a kingdom, and loss of the planet and universe if one wanted to carry it on out.
Many headaches start off due to something very simple.