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How Long Can You Drive With Check Engine Light On (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 100 Miles

There are several warning symbols on the driving dashboard. One of these important warning lights is the Malfunction Indicator Unit or MIU. As its name would suggest, the warning light indicates any possible malfunction in the vehicle.

Whenever the check engine light turns on, it brings a sense of anxiety to the mind of the drivers and passengers alike. The turning on of the check engine light is an indication of some fault in the car. It is a significant warning light being detected by the Engine Control Module (ECM) in the car’s emission system.

How Long Can You Drive With Check Engine Light On?

Status of Check Engine LightSafe Driving Time
Solid Engine Light
A. In miles50 to 100 miles
B. In kilometres80 to 160 kilometres
Flashing Engine LightNo

There are two different generally experienced statuses of Check Engine Light. These are the Solid Engine Light and the Flashing Engine Light.

Whenever a car is turned on, the Malfunction Indicator Unit also automatically turns on. The light is steady and not flickering. It remains on for a couple of minutes and turns off after some time only but only when it is assured that there is no fault in the car’s system.

When the check engine light is on while being solid at times other than starting the car, it denotes any malfunction in the car. In such a case, the vehicle can be continued to drive for 50 to 100 miles. The same period in kilometers terms is about 80 to 160 kilometers.

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However, sometimes it may also happen that the Malfunction Indicator Unit turns off sometime after being solid for a while. This might be suggestive that the fault in the vehicle is removed or solved.

In contrast to that, whenever the check engine light of the vehicle is flashing, it is an indication of a more serious fault in the vehicle. The flashing light of the engine implies an emergency and would signal towards a misfiring engine. As a result, the driver should immediately halt the car, get out of it and call an experienced repairperson to deal with the problem.

Why Can You Drive For So Long With Check Engine Light On?

The Check Engine Light signals some discrepancies in the engine. It makes continuous driving in the vehicle unsafe and so, the driver should get the fault repaired at the earliest possible stop in their journey.

The length for which the vehicle can be driven pivots on a multitude of factors. Bad spark plugs, bad oxygen sensors, and a bad catalytic converter are a few of the factors among many.

The Malfunction Indicator Unit will turn on if the vehicle is experiencing bad spark plugs. The spark plugs may not be working appropriately and may need immediate scrutiny. The driver is ought to clean them by removing the dirt and cleaning the gaps and if the situation so demands, replace them as soon as possible.

The oxygen sensor is tasked with measuring the amount of oxygen that goes on unburnt in the vehicle’s exhaust system. This data is of crucial importance for the car to decide upon the air to fuel ratio in the engine. But if the oxygen sensors turn out to be bad, it will result in a reduction in the fuel economy and also cause the check engine light to be turned on.

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Another significant component of the car is its catalytic converter. This unit does the job of controlling the emissions of the vehicle. If the check engine light detects any malfunction, it will automatically turn on and remain on till the issue is solved.

Conclusion

Check Engine Light or Malfunction Indicator Unit is a warning signal that signals any malfunction in the vehicle’s exhaust system. There can be two kinds of malfunction in the car’s system, namely minor and major. If there are minor problems, the engine light will be solid but if the problem is major an emergency, the light will be flashing.

When the light is solid, it would be safe to drive the car for 80 to 160 kilometers or 50 to 100 miles. However, if it is flashing, the vehicle needs to be stopped immediately.

References

  1. https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/gapbs/2018/2018/30/
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/2762953

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