Flashing Engine Light?

I have a 2004 Dodge Stratus (165,000 Miles). The check engine light has been on for at least eight months. I took it to have it checked out and the mechanic said ‘‘there is a very small crack in the exhaust line’’. Well, now if I turn the car on cold, it shakes all over and sometimes will turn off. It smells like straight exhaust.

Yesterday I started the car and the check engine light flashed for a good minute, then stayed on. Also, when I get out from a normal drive, you can smell gas. Plain ole gas.

Any ideas? I kinda figure its just old and probably time for a new one.

Flashing engine lights mean “Pull over and turn it off right now or you will damage it.”

If it took 8 months to bring it in to have the first engine light checked, I’m getting a pretty good picture of how well this car is being maintained. As such, yeah, it’s probably time for a new one.

Well, no. I took it to him when the light first came on eight months ago. That’s when he informed me of the small crack and said it wasn’t too serious yet, because it was small. So I have yet to replace it… My light has been on since then.

You need to find a place that will read the code for free, such as AutoZone or Midas, then come back here and post the actual code which is a P followed by 4 numbers, i.e. P0300. Don’t accept their interpretation, just post the actual code here.

BTW, this is serious, the blinking light means that the catalytic converter is being damaged. If it continues very long, the repair will get expensive.


How is an exhaust leak not a big deal . . . ???!!!

BTW . . . this may explain part of your problem

The upstream oxygen sensor is reporting a very lean mixture . . . because of that exhaust leak

The PCM responds by commanding more fuel. So much, that you’re smelling.

You undoubtedly have a P0171 lean code by now. This is due to the cracked exhaust before the upstream oxygen sensor

And when you have your ac set on fresh air, it’s probably sucking in fumes from that cracked exhaust

As for the shaking, it could very well be related to the cracked exhaust. Since the crack is probably at its worst when the exhaust is cold, the PCM isn’t able to completely compensate for it.
That might explain the shaking, and the misfires when cold. When the exhaust warms up, the crack partially seals. That’s why the engine runs better when it’s warmed up.

I’ve seen this situation before

No offense, but you need to take care of this ASAP, before you kill too many brain cells

It sounds like the problem was minor when originally inspected, but has worsened over time. Exhaust leaks usually aren’t that big of expense to repair. But there is a risk of very expensive damage to the cat, so as mentioned by all above it is in your own financial interest (and health) to get this exhaust leak fixed asap.

If the light was basically ignore for 8 months, who knows how many other codes have been set since then. First get the know problem exhaust fixed the get the codes read. Post the codes here and then maybe people can offer some assistance.

What you need to do is have your error codes read. Many auto parts stores do this for free. The codes will have a “P” followed by a 4 digit number. (E.g. P0420 might lead one to inspect the exhaust system for any kinds of problems).

Right now I’m going to guess that you have a bunch of P030x codes from a very severe misfire and your current rough running / gas smelling could be as simple as a problem with plugs / wires. Of course it could also be as bad as a wrecked engine. But anyway…start with getting and reporting the exact and specific error codes currently stored in the computer.

Also report as much as you know about the state of general maintenance on the car - things like when your plugs and wires were last replaced.