Volvo check engine light -- urgent? cause?

I have a 2006 S6 2.5T. My car drove fine 3 miles to school drop-off, where I turned off my car. 5 minutes later, I restarted the car but it stuttered significantly in idle for a minute or two.

It drove fine but within a mile I noticed a yellow check engine light and green engine system service required. Haven’t had this problem previously.

Some background, that might be not be important:

  • I recently had a 75k service and have driven approx 500 miles since.
  • The car was not driven for 1 week until yesterday, when I drove ~6 miles.
  • I noticed my cruise control was on, or at least the indicator was … I certainly didn’t turn on cruise control purposely.
  • Temperature approx 45 degrees, no rain

Is this something I need to see my mechanic about urgently? I need to drive 50 miles later today. Thanks !

If the Check Engine Light is on in a “steady” fashion–rather than flashing–then it is probably safe to drive the car. (A flashing CEL should be interpreted as “get a tow”–if you want to avoid expensive repair bills)

However, from afar nobody can tell you exactly what might be wrong with your car, and the diagnostic clues will come from a reading of the trouble codes that have been stored by the car’s On-Board Diagnostic System. If you go to an auto parts store (AutoZone, Advance, O’Reilly, possible Napa), they will “read” the trouble codes for you–gratis.

Then, if you come back to this thread to report the exact code(s), we can probably be of more help. The code(s) will be in a format similar to “P0123”.

@VDCdriver is right about getting the codes read and about the flashing CEL light.

I would like to add that, I like to suggest to people that if the cel light comes on…take 3 minutes to check a few things. Pull the vehicle over as soon as you can safely. Check the dip stick and be sure the oil even reads on the stick. If it’s low…that’s ok, but no oil could cause a catastrophic engine failure if you continue to drive.
Oil is like the “Lifes Blood” of an engine. It’s the one thing that if the level of oil is allowed to get too low…it is guarantee’d a $3000-5000 replacement.
That is why we all here stress regular oil changes.
Also check the front of the engine (the belt area) and be sure that the belt is still intact.
Never check the coolant because even a normal running engine could cause severe burns from the steam.

If these simple checks show no problems then “drive on” and have the codes checked as VDC mentioned.

I know the computer will tell you if you have a serious problem, but this is a little extra insurance that the engine is not in danger. Even computers make mistakes, or maybe a previous owner bypassed a warning light to cover a problem up. Be safe and check those simple things.


Also check the gas cap. It can turn on the check engine light as well if it is not tight.

The stumbling on restart was either misfires due to ignition problems, or over rich fuel mixture. I’ll guess a dirty or bad mass airflow sensor. Many common code readers do not give all the codes in a Volvo ecm, you might need to take it to a Volvo dealer.

Concur w the posters above, OP needs to take car to shop and have the ECM diagnostic codes determined. The Volvo designers put that function into the car to make diagnosing this kind of problem easier, but it won’t work unless you use it. The fact that the problem occurred all of a sudden, after driving the car for many miles with not problem, my suspicion leans toward some engine control actuator sticking or otherwise not responding to ECM control

Thanks for your comments. Diagnosis from my Volvo mechanic was a leaking intake tube near the turbo. Found with a smoke test after he checked the codes. Two days after the fix and so far so good.