Can You Drive with the Check Engine Light On?

Published on

July 1, 2024

check engine light on car

Uh-oh, your check engine light just illuminated on your dashboard.

Are you good to continue your day? Probably. Should you have your car checked out soon? Yes.

In this post, we'll discuss if you can drive with the check engine light on and some of the common reasons this light illuminates your dashboard. Read on to learn more:

Common Reasons Your Check Engine Light is On

Contrary to what you may think, when your check engine light comes on, it doesn't always necessarily mean there's a problem with your engine. This light can be triggered by several things, which include:

Gas Cap

Check engine lights can often be triggered by loose gas caps. In this case, it's a simple fix. All you need to do is remove and put the gas cap back properly. If this is what triggered it, the light should shut off.

Spark Plugs

Damaged spark plugs are another thing that can trigger the check engine light. Again, this is a fairly easy fix - they just need to be replaced.

Catalytic Converter

If a problem with the catalytic converter is what tripped your check engine light, the issue may be a bit more complex. It could mean this exhaust component is either clogged or damaged. It may require the replacement of this component.


An overheating engine can also trigger the check engine light. If this is the cause, it may be for a number of reasons from a lack of coolant or coolant leaks to water pump failures or a broken cooling fan. Make sure to get your vehicle checked as quickly as possible to avoid more damage.

Oxygen Sensor

Oxygen sensors help monitor oxygen levels in the exhaust system. A drop in such levels can cause the check engine light to turn on.

Is it Still Safe to Drive with Your Check Engine Light On?

In most cases, driving with your check engine light on is OK, but it's important to take your vehicle in for a diagnostic check to resolve any issues before they become too serious. This is especially true if your light comes on and stays steady.

If the check engine light comes on and blinks, it's often the sign of a more serious problem that should be immediately addressed. If you have a blinking light, refrain from operating the vehicle and seek professional service.

Don't Ignore Warnings

Like anything with your vehicle, ignoring the warning of your check engine light is likely only to make any problems worse over time. Seeking service quickly after your check engine light comes on is likely to result in a smaller, more affordable repair. If you continue to operate your vehicle, problems are likely to worsen, resulting in more intense - and more expensive - repairs.

Reach Out to Your Local GreatWater-Affiliated Shop to See How We Can Help

For more information on what to do when your check engine light comes on and some of the potential problems that your check engine light may indicate, contact your local GreatWater 360 Auto Care-affiliated shop today. We'll get to the bottom of your issue, no matter how minor or complex the problem is.