Posted under Car Engine

It’s the yellow warning light no driver wants to see. It can come on when you least expect it because your car seems to be running just fine. Let’s talk about the Check Engine Light (CEL, also known as the Malfunction Indicator Light or MIL). What triggered it? How long can you drive with the Check Engine Light on?

There’s no single answer to these questions. Something minor, like a loose gas cap, may have triggered it, or something more serious, such as an engine misfire. But here’s the important thing: When you see that illuminated light, don’t panic. The Check Engine Light doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pull over to the side of the road and call a tow truck.

What Does a Blinking Check Engine Light Mean?

The Check Engine Light meaning can vary depending on whether the light is constantly illuminated or blinking:

  • If the light is steady, the problem is typically not an emergency. Take your vehicle to a professional at your earliest convenience, and a trained technician can diagnose the problem.
  • A flashing light may indicate an engine problem (such as a misfire) that does require immediate attention. Get your car to a mechanic as quickly as possible.

What Does the Malfunction Indicator Light Mean?

Great question! Drivers often confuse dashboard indicator names. In cars manufactured from 1996 to today, the Check Engine Light is more correctly called the Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL). If the MIL is illuminated, take the same steps outlined above.

How Long Can You Drive with the Check Engine Light (or MIL) On?

Remember, if the MIL is flashing, you should reduce power and get to a mechanic immediately. The blinking check engine light  could be the result of an engine misfire so severe that:

  • Unburned fuel is being dumped into the exhaust system
  • The catalytic converter could quickly become damaged
  • You could face expensive repairs

But what if the light is shining steadily, and you don’t notice any change in your car’s performance? Your vehicle is still experiencing an issue, just not one that demands immediate attention. So please don’t wait until your next scheduled tune-up to have it checked out. Make an appointment as soon as you can to avoid issues such as:

  • Reduced fuel economy 
  • Increased emission of hydrocarbons or other pollutants

Check Engine Light On? Stop by Your Local Jiffy Lube

Whether your light is steady or flashing, you can count on Jiffy Lube® to check your car engine and help solve the issue. One of the first things the trained technician will do is use a scanner to read the DTC generated by the light. Following diagnosis, you'll receive a written description of the results and have a chance to ask the technician any questions.

You can also expect to be asked about your driving habits — like whether you drive in extreme temperatures or at prolonged high speeds. Based on your driving habits and the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific vehicle, the trained technician can perform the services to help keep your car, SUV, minivan, or truck on the road.

NOTE: Not all services are offered at all Jiffy Lube service centers. Please call ahead or check to ensure the service is available at the Jiffy Lube location near you.