Car ownership is a great experience and having your ride for driving to work and taking a trip down the highway is a blessing. But owning a car is more than just putting fuel in the tank and getting it washed once a month.
You must know the technicalities and other details of your car, so if the problem arises, you know how to get it fixed. Modern cars come equipped with a Check Engine Light which is essentially a diagnostic scanner and is designed to warn you if something is wrong with your car.
Although it’s a great help and points towards the problem before it becomes fatal, it could also become frustrating in certain circumstances. If you’ve noticed the Check Engine Light going Off on its own after blinking for a while, then you’re not alone and it is a quite common occurrence.
Let’s understand if the Check Engine Light can turn itself off, some of the possible reasons behind that, and whether it is safe to drive with the Check Engine Light still ON.
Can Check Engine Light Turn Itself Off?
Technically? Yes! The check engine light on your car’s dashboard can turn Off on its own without intervening.
All modern cars are equipped with a self-diagnostic system called OBD, which scans all the systems and sensors in the car and feeds the data to ECU constantly. If a problem or issue is picked over several scans, an error code is generated and sent to the car’s ECU, which in turn alerts the driver by illuminating the Check Engine Light.
Normally, the Check Engine Light would stay ON unless the issue is fixed, or would even blink if the problem is grave. But in some instances, it turns OFF on its own and there could be different reasons behind that.
7 Most Common Reasons Behind Check Engine Light Turning Itself Off
If you’ve noticed that the Check Engine Light on your dashboard went Off after staying ON for some time, there could be a few underlying reasons. Instead of panicking about it, you should simply drive down to a workshop and get the ECU scanned. Anyhow, it could probably be one of the following issues;
1- Loose wires or battery terminals
It could merely be some loose wires or the battery terminals playing with the car’s ECU and sending false signals. You should check the terminals or other wires for loose joints and recheck the dashboard after fixing them.
2- Clogged Catalytic Converter
The catalytic converter is supposed to convert harmful gases to a less toxic form and bears the majority of the grunt of the emission gases. If your catalytic converter hasn’t been serviced in a while, it has likely become clogged and partially obstructed. This could cause the check engine light to turn ON and if it gets cleared due to the flow of air at higher RPMs, the light turns OFF on its own.
3- Change of fuel
If you happened to refuel from some other station than your regular one, there is a probability that the system picked up some additives in the fuel and alerted your ECU. Once the fuel has been consumed or the scan is repeated, the Check Engine Light would go Off on its own.
4- Fluctuating coolant temperature
The temperature gauge needle comes to normal after running for a while and stays below the midpoint. If you’ve revved your car too hard or taken a hill climb, the temperature of the coolant might fluctuate, triggering the Check Engine Light to come ON as a warning. Once the temperature settles, the light would go OFF automatically.
5- Ignition system issue
A very unusual culprit, but if the distributor cap and cables in the ignition system become loose or there’s a leakage of fluids nearby, the Check Engine Light could appear momentarily.
6- Dirty fuel pump
The fuel pump is the most ignored part during the service routine of a car and if it gets clogged due to debris or contamination, it could send signals to the car’s ECU and make the Check Engine Light illuminate for a while.
7- O2 Sensor
Related closely to the catalytic converter, the oxygen sensor is also one of those parts that could send continuous false signals to the ECU and make the Check Engine Light come On and Off on its own.
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Is It Safe to Drive with the Check Engine Light Still On?
If the Check Engine Light has just appeared on the dashboard, there is no problem with driving normally, but it is imperative that you get it checked immediately. By no means does the Check Engine Light would bring your car to a halt, and if you don’t notice anything weird or hear strange noises, you should keep driving but get the car scanned before driving home.
If the situation is too grim, the car would go into Limp Mode, which limits the output and driving capability and allows you just to drive at lower RPMs to a nearby repair shop. It is a safety system developed by manufacturers to protect the engine from permanent damage or seizure.
Can I Diagnose the Issue Myself?
Yes! there are different commercial OBD-II scanners available in the market that you could use to detect different error codes. You have to find the OBD port which is usually located below the steering column in a casing and connect your OBD-II scanner to it.
It would automatically scan the ECU and show you different error codes. You could consult your car’s owner’s manual or surf online to check what those errors mean and drive down to your dealership or nearest workshop to get them fixed.
The check engine light is a warning board of your car and it frequently turns off on its own, and the first time it does, you might choose to ignore it, though it is not advisable.
The only way to be certain is to look for error codes and figure out what the underlying issue could be, even though there could be meagre aberrations and minor check engine failures. By doing this, you can ensure your safety and the safety of your car and avoid overlooking a potentially significant problem.