There’s a huge difference between a check engine light and a flashing check engine light. Car makers know that most people ignore a check engine light. And the myth persists that a check engine light is just an “emissions thing.” But emission readings go bad because there’s an underlying engine problem. That underlying problem isn’t going to fix itself. In the meantime, you risk causing more damage to your vehicle in addition to getting worse gas mileage. However, a flashing check engine light means the problem is so serious that you could damage the very expensive catalytic converter. And you haven’t spent money until you replace one of those. The converter alone can run from $400 to over $1,000.
In most cases, a flashing check engine light is caused by cylinder misfires. When a cylinder misfires, it pours that unburned fuel into the exhaust. The catalytic converter’s job is to incinerate any excess fuel or oil. When you constantly feed it fuel from misfires, the catalytic reaction can become a run-away reaction, heating your converter to well over 2,500 degrees. That will melt the ceramic grid inside the converter and destroy it. Even a partial meltdown causes permanent damage, as well as restricting exhaust flow and reducing power.
So if you have a flashing check engine light, stop driving and call a tow truck. Look at it this way; you’re going to have to fix the underlying problem anyway, why risk ruining a perfectly good catalytic converter as well. Sure, the tow will cost you $100, but that’s nothing compared to the cost of the converter.
For more information on catalytic converters, read this article
©, 2013 Rick Muscoplat
Posted on by Rick Muscoplat