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Help! My Car Is Doing the Shimmy-Shake!

I own a 2005 VW Passat Wagon which I bought used two months ago to the day. This morning I was on my way to work and accelerated to merge into another lane on the highway. My engine light started blinking and the car was shaking. It only shakes when idling and at or above 40 mph. When I checked under the hood, the whole engine block was shaking. What happened and what should I do? I hope I didn’t buy a dud…

Sound like you need a good mechanic. There are too many possibilities to start troubleshooting at the moment because this can be a fuel delivery problem, bad gas problem or an ignition problem.

The blinking check engine light is almost always a rather serious misfire. Do not drive the car with the CEL flashing. (Ok - you can, but you’re ratcheting up the potential repair bill by a lot if not killing the car.

The engine basically needs 4 things to “fire” rather than “misfire” - good consistent spark, fuel delivery, air delivery, and compression.

The first place to look for misfires is at spark - plugs/wires/coil/distributor and such.

Do you know the maintenance history of the car? How old are the plugs & wires?

Missileman is basically right either way. If you ask the question as you did you just need a mechanic.

The computer does have some info for you though - that CEL means fault codes are stored. Many large chain auto parts stores read those for free. If you want, you can get the codes and post them (exact codes like P0300).