Eddie spent 35 years in the automotive business with Honda. He is an ASE Certified Master Technician and has bruised knuckles to prove it.

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Your “check engine” light comes on when your car’s onboard computer (or PCM, Powertrain Control Module) records some kind of problem. This onboard computer runs your car so that it has optimum fuel economy and low emissions. The PCM creates a code indicating what part or system is malfunctioning (electrical system, oxygen sensors, and so on). Your tech can get the code from the vehicle and look up its meaning.

In the meantime, you’re probably wondering: what are the possibilities? Is there something going on in your car or in your life that triggered this “check engine” situation? Where should a mechanic start looking to find the problem?

The First Two Questions to Ask Yourself if the Check Engine Light Is On

Is the car running normally?Is the "check engine" light flashing?

10 Diagnostic Questions to Ask If Your "Check Engine” Light Comes On

After you've determined if your car is running normally and whether the light is on or flashing, ask the remaining questions.

Has your car been in the shop for service recently?Have you fueled your car recently?Did you possibly overfill your fuel tank?Have you installed any new electronic devices recently?Did your “check engine” light come on after driving through a deep puddle?Do you have excessive humidity in your car caused by a water leak?Do you live in a rural area where there are lots of critters?Are other warning lights illuminated on the dash?Did your car sit for a long period of time without anyone driving it?Were you the last one to drive your car?

What Does the Check Engine Light Look Like?

Don’t confuse your "check engine" light with your maintenance reminder (a light that goes on automatically to remind you it’s time for a routine service). If you’re not sure, check the index in your owner’s manual, under “warning lights.”



This small yellow light (labeled "maintenance indicator") is not the "check engine" light (1991 Honda Accord)


How Long Can You Drive With Your Check Engine Light On?

Is the car running normally? If your car is running normally, and you have no problem driving it, the problem is not so severe that you need to panic. Of course, you should not ignore the light; it is warning you of some problem with the emissions system. When the light is on, your car runs on default parameters, not optimized to reduce emissions and increase mileage, and so you won’t get the gas mileage the car is designed to get. Just call your mechanic or dealer to make an appointment within a reasonable amount of time.Is the "check engine" light flashing? If it's flashing, it means you have a serious problem and you really should not be driving your car. It's flashing because it's saying “STOP!!! Hey, Look At Me!!!” It’s saying your catalytic converter is being damaged. It’s probably a good idea to call a tow truck at this point; you don’t want to add to the cost of any repairs that will be needed.

What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?

The check engine light is a light that the engine computer uses to signify that there is something wrong. They are orange, amber, or yellow, and not to be ignored!

How to Reset the Check Engine Light

The only way to "reset" the check engine light is by fixing the problem causing it. Thus, the 10 reasons I list below may help you reset your check engine light.

Why Is My Check Engine Light on? 10 Reasons Why Your Check Engine Light On

1. Has Your Car Been Serviced Recently?

If your car has been in the shop recently for service, it’s quite possible the technician has caused your "check engine" light problem. Sometimes a technician will forget to reinstall a connector to a sensor, or not snap the connector back together completely. Or he or she may knock a connector loose while doing a minor service.

On older Hondas, the oxygen sensor is directly below the oil filter, so a technician removing the oil filter for a routine oil change might spill oil onto the oxygen sensor. It’s just possible, though not common, that a technician wiping oil off the sensor damaged it somehow.


On this 1991 Honda Accord, you can see how the oxygen sensor (little rat-tailed item) is located directly below the oil filter. You can imagine how easy it is to dump oil on it.


2. Have You Fueled Your Car Recently?

If you didn’t tighten the fuel cap enough (or forgot to put it on altogether!), it can cause your "check engine" light to come on. All Honda fuel caps have a ratcheting device built into the cap to achieve a good seal and keep you from over-tightening the cap. When tightening your fuel cap, be sure to turn it enough to hear at least three clicks; that ensures the proper torque was applied. If your check engine light is on, simply check your fuel cap to make sure it is turned three clicks.

3. Did You Overfill Your Fuel Tank?

If you’re one of those people who like to top off the fuel tank, you need to break that habit, especially if you own a newer Honda. When the gas pump shuts off automatically, the tank is as full as it needs to be. To keep gasoline fumes out of the atmosphere, modern United States cars are required to trap the fumes and recycle them into the engine to be burned. Overfilling the tank can spill fuel into tiny vacuum lines and filters, which in turn can clog emission devices (like the "evap canister" being replaced in the three do-it-yourself videos at the end of this article). Soaking these devices in gasoline will cause the "check engine" light to come on. Replacing the damaged parts could be costly, but the time spent diagnosing the problem could be even more so.

4. Have You Installed Any New Electronic Devices Lately, or Had Them Installed by a Professional?

Everyone likes all the new gadgets available for cars these days, like backup cameras, thunder-booming stereos, remote car starters, high-intensity-discharge headlights, and rear entertainment systems, to name a few. It’s just possible that the person installing your device may have blown a fuse, or worse, may have tapped into the wrong wire and caused that dang "check engine" light to come on again.

Check to see that all electronics in the vehicle are working properly (e.g. dash light, 12-volt power supply, interior lights). If everything is working properly, I would either test all the fuses (using a test light or a voltage meter is the fastest way to do that) or return the vehicle to the person who did the work.

5. Did Your "Check Engine" Light Come on After Driving Through a Deep Puddle?

This isn’t common but it does happen. After driving for a while on the highway, your exhaust can get extremely hot; if you then happen to drive through a deep puddle, it is possible for water to cool the oxygen sensor too quickly and crack the material inside the sensor. The oxygen sensor is located under the vehicle, usually in or near the catalytic converter where the temperature can exceed 600 degrees. If this sounds like your scenario, take your car to the dealer or your local mechanic.


You can see both oxygen sensors, front and rear, one in the front pipe before the catalytic converter and the other is in the center of the catalytic converter. If you hit a puddle deep enough, you could actually submerge the sensors.


6. Do You Have Excessive Humidity in Your Car Caused by a Water Leak?

Water on the front or back carpet in your car will often be coming from the front of the car somewhere; water flows towards the back because of acceleration, and because the floor is tapered towards the rear of the vehicle. If the water is only visible on the rear carpet, the leak may be in the rear of the vehicle.

The most common cause of a water leak is the windshield; sometimes a newly replaced windshield will leak.

If a leaky windshield drips water on an ECU (Engine Control Unit) fuse box or any other control unit, this will cause an ECU failure and your “check engine” light will come on. Water is very damaging to all electronic devices (just drop your smartphone in water and see what happens).

7. Do You Live in a Rural Area Where There Are Lots of Critters?

Critters can cause all sorts of problems in cars, from horrible smells to chewed wires. If you live or work in an area where mice, rats, chipmunks. or squirrels can get into your car, they can wreak havoc on your cars’ electrical systems. Given the chance, critters will build nests and store food for the winter, and for some reason, they like to chew wires. In fact, some car manufacturers assemble wire harnesses wrapped with mouse-deterrent tape, no kidding. It’s not completely effective but it’s a start. If a critter chews the right wires in your vehicle, it will cause the “check engine” light to come on, and an expensive bill! Replacing a wire harness is daunting and time-consuming.

Signs of critters in your vehicle are:

bad odorsacorns and nuts (or dry dog food) stored in the engine compartment or glove boxchewed carpetingloud noises when the heating or air conditioning fans come on. Critters are notorious for building nests inside blower motor assemblies, causing all kinds of problems.

8. Are Other Warning Lights Illuminated on the Dash?

In some cases, a failure in another part or system can cause your "check engine" light to come on. Multiple warning lights illuminated on the dash don't necessarily mean multiple problems, so don't panic. The lights could all be caused by a single problem: For example, if your alternator is not charging, or if it’s over-charging, it could cause low or high voltage in the system, which would cause many lights to come on.

9. Did Your Car Sit for a Long Time Without Anyone Driving It?

Cars that sit for a long period of time are susceptible to a plethora of problems. Critters move in, batteries go dead, tires go flat, brake rotors become rusted and cause a pulsation when applying the brakes, pulleys rust and cause belts to squeak, and the list goes on. If your car sat for a while, your "check engine" light could come on because a sensor or solenoid is stuck, or for other reasons. Have it checked out by an honest mechanic; they are out there, you just have to find them.

10. Were You the Last One to Drive Your Car?

If you were not the last one to drive your car and the "check engine" light is on, you need to start asking questions. Sometimes family members or friends who borrow your car spill soda or coffee on the console without telling you. On some Hondas, the ECM/PCM (engine control unit/powertrain control unit) is located below the center of the console, and sugary drinks can destroy this expensive control unit.

Check Engine Light P0303 Cause

Automatic Scan Tool: Write Down the Code

If you have a buddy, friend, uncle, or cuz that can check the code because they have a scan tool, make sure you write down the code because if you decide to erase it, you’ll want to know what it was when the light comes back on (and if it’s an issue other than a loose gas cap, the problem will usually come back). It’s good practice for you and good information to give your mechanic.

Buying a Scan Tool to Interpret "Check Engine" Codes

If you want to try and diagnose the problem yourself, you will need to figure out with the diagnostic code is telling you. Here is a guide to understanding the codes.

You will also need a scan tool. If you decide to buy on, choose one that will last for years. Vehicles are only getting more sophisticated each year, so plan for the future. The OBD2 system covers 1996 and later cars (the OBD1 system that covers older ones may be included, depending on the device). I recommend looking for these four time- and money-saving features:

A display that includes a description of the cause of the warning light, as well as the code. This saves you time from having to look up the description that goes with the numerical code in a book or on the computer.LED display for state emissions readiness check and drive cycle verification. This feature will let you know if it will pass an emissions test.Battery backup that will keep the code in the device after you disconnect the scan tool, so you can review it and analyze it away from the car (even if you forgot to write down the code)A USB cable to update the information in your scan tool from your own computer. If you can't update the scan tool, it will be obsolete in three years.

I Have a Favor to Ask

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Our 2013 Honda Pilot was saying “check fuel cap” for a few days, so we kept trying to tighten it. Eventually the engine light came on a week later. We replaced the fuel cap with a new one purchased from Honda. The engine light is still on and it was replaced 2 days ago. Does the system need time to reboot itself or should we be getting the car looked at?

Answer: If the light doesn't go out within 3 days, you may need to have the system tested for other small leaks in the system or parts that are not working correctly.

Question: The engine light came on and showed the check emission system message. I went to AutoZone to check the code. It showed P0420. They said it’s the Catalytic Converter and Exhaust Flange Gasket. I just had my emissions inspection about two weeks ago, and it passed. I filled up with gas yesterday. Is there anything that would cause this that would correct itself? I’m a single mom and want to check anything I can before I spend the money to take it to the shop.

Answer: The leaking exhaust gasket could be the cause of your problem. I recommend having that leak fixed first. Then, drive the vehicle for a few days to see if the light goes out on it own. If it doesn't, you may need to have further testing done. It's possible that you only need an O2 sensor, and not the catalytic converter, but the O2 sensors needs to be tested by a mechanic who knows how to test them.

Question: Could a broken PCV valve cause the "Check Engine" light to go off?

Answer: Yes, if the PCV valve is broken your engine will have a rough idle because of the vacuum leak, and it will cause the check engine light to come on.

Question: The check engine light came on in my 2005 Honda Accord. What may be wrong?

Answer: There are a lot of things that can cause the check engine light to come on. Some common issues are O2 sensors, evaporative emissions leaks, a loose gas cap, a misfire, spark plugs, low coolant, etc. I recommend having the code checked; it will point you in the right direction.

Question: Today when I started up my 2000 Honda Civic LX, the engine light went on. I just had a new distributor installed last week. While driving it today, there was no noise, and it had power. I did fill the gas tank up yesterday, and I did hear the gas cap click a few times. Today is Sunday. So my mechanic has not looked at it, or knows what is going on. What do you think???

Answer: If the engine is running well at idle and when driving, most likely you have an evaporator leak in your emissions system. The code your mechanic will probably be either a P01456 or P01457, canister or canister vent shut valve.

Question: The check engine light on my Honda CR-V 1997 went on recently. The car runs fine. I brought it to the mechanic, and he told me there is an issue with my airbags? However, I thought the SRS light indicates an issue with seat belts or airbags. What do you think?

Answer: Find a new mechanic, the SRS light is the warning system for the airbags and seat belts. Have another mechanic pull the code from your computer, and you will be able to diagnose it from there.

Question: Can a low oil level cause the check engine light to come on?

Answer: It's possible because some engine components use oil pressure to work, so if the oil level is low, the component will not work properly.

Question: I have a 2011 Honda Accord. Both my engine light and traction control light are on. What could this be?

Answer: The check engine light will turn on the traction control light. I recommend getting the code checked because there are a lot of things that can cause the check engine light to come on. Once you know the code it will point you in the right direction.

Question: I had my car serviced after the check engine light came on. They said it was fixed, but when I drove it, the light came back on. I took it back again and they worked on it. When I got it back, the check engine light was out. I had my emissions inspection and they noticed the check engine light was not lighting up. I think the mechanic disconnected it. How can I tell if he disconnected it?

Answer: Every time you start the car, the check engine light should illuminate then go out - this is called a bulb check. If the mechanic disconnected the light, you will not see it when starting the engine.

Question: I have a 2006 Honda Oydessy. The check engine light came on and showed all cylinders misfiring. We changed all ignition coils and spark plugs. Do codes need to be cleared in order for the light to go off?

Answer: Yes, or drive the car for three complete drive cycles, the engine starts at cold and all the way to operating temperature, then back down to cold is one cycle. If the code does not clear after three drive cycles, you may have more than one problem.

Question: I have a 2009 Honda CR-V and the oil pressure switch and timing chain was replaced and the check engine light is still on? What could be?

Answer: There are several reasons for the check engine light being on, you will need to have the code read from the cars data link connector, once you have the code it will point you in the direction of the problem.

Question: I have a 2002 honda civic ex-coupe. My check engine light was on a couple of days ago so I put engine coolant in the reservoir, and the light went off shortly after driving it later that day. Now the check engine is back on. What could be the problem?

Answer: I don't think it had anything to do with the coolant. You'll need to have the code checked and it will point you in the right direction.

Question: I have a 1999 Honda Accord LX with 74,000 miles. The check engine light is on, but the engine runs smooth. I've changed the vacuum canister and solenoid valve, and have a new gas tank cap. When I reset the light it stays off for a while but then comes back on, what could it be?

Answer: Not all check engine lights are caused by a leak in the evaporative system or gas tank. Sometimes it's caused by an O2 sensor, misfire, spark plug, spark plug wires, etc. If you know the code it would help to diagnose your issue.

Question: I have a 1996 Honda Accord and the engine light is flashing and when I stop at a red light the car shakes and it feels like it is going to die what can the problem be?

Answer: Whatever it is, you shouldn't drive it with the check engine light flashing, you could cause more damage. You'll need to have the code checked to give you an idea of what the failure is.

Question: My husband and I want to buy a Honda accord 2007 with 214,000 miles for $6,000. During the test drive, they had to jump the battery which caused the radio to need a code, and when I turned on the heater the engine light came on. Do I have something to worry about?

Answer: Yes, you're paying too much for a car that has 214,000 on the engine and transmission. I recommend finding something with a little less miles for that price.

Question: I "topped off" my gas tank and my engine light has been flashing along with the non-flashing, triangular VSA warning for five days and approximately 45 miles. My car runs fine, no unusual noises, etc., though I do not get the usual ECO light for economy fuel use. If this was caused by overfilling the gas tank, will the problem vanish on its own? If not, how do I find a mechanic familiar with the computerized warning system?

Answer: If the check engine light is flashing, this means you are doing damage to the catalytic converter, and the car should be towed to a garage. I recommend the manufacturer's garage because they have the tools to diagnose the system. The problem you are having is not caused by overfilling the gas tank. Your engine is misfiring and is not burning all the fuel that is going into the cylinder, that's why the light is flashing: it's warning you that there is a damaging problem.

Question: My 2008 Honda Odyssey engine light came on, and a few weeks later started flashing. There is some light blue fluid coming out. What could the problem be?

Answer: If there is light blue fluid leaking I recommend you get that checked first, it's possible you're low on coolant. The check engine light flashing may be something different or could be connected with the coolant leak. I recommend you have the vehicle towed to a garage and had these things checked before driving it again; I would hate to see you damage the engine by driving it.

Question: My 1998 Honda Accord LX engine light came on this morning and isn't going off; it's not blinking at all. What do you think the problem is?

Answer: It could be anything from an O2 sensor to an EVAP canister leak. Have the code pulled and it will point you to the problem area.

Question: I have a 2013 Honda Accord Sport. I disconnected the battery, and the check engine light turned on. I thought it was because the readiness codes cleared off. I heard when this happens the light blinks and then turns off, but mine is still on, no flashing or anything. Could the readiness codes keep it on until all the codes are back to normal, or is it something else?

Answer: Drive your car for a few days. If the light doesn't go out, have the code checked, but drive it for a few days first; it may be something simple.

Question: The engine light on my Honda 2011 Pilot is on, and the D light for drive was flashing, but my car still runs regularly. The ECO light also turns on and off as I drive. What's the problem?

Answer: It all depends on the code stored in the PCM. If it's a misfire code, most likely you'll need piston rings; it's very common on the 2011s. When the "D" light flashes, it means you have a transmission code that could be a solenoid malfunction.

Question: After driving for about 20 miles on the freeway, the check engine light on my 2010 Honda Accord started flashing. When I stopped the car, I felt the car shake and rumble, but it operated fine while driving. I looked up the symbol in the manual, and it says something might be wrong with the emissions Is this possibly it? Should I take my car to the local mechanic I use or to Honda? What do you think might be wrong and what are the possible costs to fix it?

Answer: There are a few possibilities for this scenario. It could be a fouled spark plug, inoperative coil, faulty fuel injector, piston rings, etc. The check engine light is flashing because there is a misfire and it could be causing damage to the catalytic converter. I recommend having the Honda dealer check the code and give you an estimate of the cost of the repair.

Question: I have a problem no one can solve. It's been going on for maybe the past two years. The fuel cap will go on. Then a couple of days later, the check engine light goes on. I have tried new fuel caps twice. Now, the lock doesn't work. I am wondering if there is some electrical problem going on?

Answer: If you know the code, it will point you to the problem.

Question: My 1995 Accord EX check engine light is on, could this cause my car to shut off when I stop?

Answer: Absolutely, It could be a fouled spark plug, inoperative coil, faulty fuel injector, etc... It really depends on what is causing the problem. Check how the engine is running. If it's skipping or hesitating that's a definite red flag.

Question: I had fueled my car, and the same day the engine light came on. I don't top off. I phoned the dealership, and they said to unwind gas cap and put it back on. I did, but the light is still on. Today, I am replacing the relay/ fuse for the air conditioner; it has been blowing warm air after the first ten minutes of cold air. What is your advice on the engine light issue?

Answer: For the check engine light problem, you'll need to have the code pulled from the computer if the light doesn't go out after three days of driving. If it were a gas cap code it would clear itself in about three days after the problem was fixed (tightening the gas cap). The AC issue is most likely a problem with the compressor clutch. The compressor clutch is most likely worn, and the gap is too wide to engage after the compressor is warm. The fix is to replace the AC compressor clutch or complete compressor assembly.

Question: My 2008 Civic's check engine light came on today. I read your article and none of it seems to apply. It seems to be running fine?

Answer: If the engine is running normal then the problem may be in the canister side of the emission system. I recommend having someone read the code on the cars computer with a scan tool to find out the code. Once you know the code it will point you in the right direction on what is failing in your vehicle and is causing the light to be on.

Question: I filled up my 2012 Honda pilot, and the check engine light came on, why?

Answer: Maybe you didn't tighten the gas cap three clicks? The only way to know for sure is to have the code pulled from the computer. If it is the gas cap, tighten it three clicks and drive the vehicle for three days, if that was the problem, the light should go off, if not you'll need to have the code pulled.

Question: I have a 2002 Honda CRV changed the starter, alternator, and air hose - the check engine light comes on before starting and doesn't go off. The car is running well. Is it merely a reset that is needed, or should I recheck everything?

Answer: Definitely recheck everything, drive it for 3 days, if the light doesn't go out, have the code checked.

Question: I have a 02 Accord, 4 cylinder. I am getting the p1259 VTEC code, but the vVTEC assembly is ok. Also, the distributor is not getting power to the plugs. Could both these problems stem from a bad ECM or PCM?

Answer: Not usually, no. I recommend having the distributor base checked for any play in the shaft and also check the ignitor. If all looks good, check the main relay under the dash on the driver's side near the steering column.

Question: I'm traveling from MI to CA. I got as far as Nebraska, when someone nearly ran me off the road, and I suddenly had to accelerate. That's when the check engine light came on. The fluids are good, and the car was running fine prior. What could be the problem?

Answer: The check engine light can come on for a lot of different reasons. I recommend having it checked with a code reader, and this will point you to the problem.

Question: I have a 2003 Accord that has not been driven for a while. The check engine is on, and the car is suddenly shaking. What could be the cause?

Answer: I recommend checking for any rodent damage or any signs there are rodents living in the vehicle and chewing wires: https://youtu.be/ZWd6XEszacQ.

Question: I took my '93 Honda Accord LX to get smogged and they did something to make the check engine light come on but now it won't go off. What could the problem be?

Answer: I'm not sure what the mechanic did to cause the light to come on, but if it was an intermittent failure the light should go off after three days or three complete drive cycles.

Question: I have my Honda Civic EX 2000 with the Check engine light go on. I brought it be diagnosed, and the result is P-0505 = idle air control valve system. I'm a retiree, and don't have money to buy another or get it properly fixed. What should I do? Exactly what part should I purchase if I want to fix it myself?

Answer: I have a link here from Youtube that will help you identify the IAC valve. It is located on the throttle body between the firewall and intake; it has one electrical connector and two coolant hoses. https://youtu.be/7DB-gtplptI

Question: What does code 6111 mean on a Honda Accord 2013?

Answer: That would be a generic code and it doesn't even sound right for a generic code. P0600 would have something to do with the data link connector communication.

Question: I'm driving a Honda Jazz 09. Whenever I hit a medium hump on the road, the check engine light comes up, and the transmission becomes stagnant (meaning it doesn't shifts up). If I hit the gas a bit harder, the RPM goes up. I found a quick fix, but I'm not satisfied with it. I usually re-start the car (around 3-4 times) then the check engine light goes off. Is this just a loosened sensor?

Answer: It does sound like a loose connection. I recommend checking all of the connections to the transmission, and I mean inspecting each connector closely for any corrosion or damaged pins. I also recommend checking the fluid condition. If it's very dirty, you may have debris clogging a port, and when you hit a bump, it becomes dislodged. This is just a thought, but it's worth checking.

Question: I have a 1997 Honda Civic DX, and the automatic check light is on. The vehicle runs great but has small slag in it. What do think it could be, maybe the throttle position sensor is causing the slag and maybe use of gas?

Answer: If you know the code it will point you in the right direction. There are a lot of things that can cause a hesitation like an O2 sensor, spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor, distributor base, valve adjustment, etc. If you know the code, you'll find the problem.

Question: My 2007 Pilot check engine light came on today. I just changed the low beam headlight yesterday, could this be why? What could cause this to happen?

Answer: It's not the headlight replacement. Have an auto parts store check the code and it will guide you to the problem.


Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on August 29, 2020:

Hi Theo,

This is a shot in the dark, but maybe the catalytic converter is clogged and is causing the problem? There are a lot of things that can cause this trouble , but what's weird is that the problem disappears when the check engine light comes on, why? What is the code? What is the year, make, model, and mileage?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on August 29, 2020:

Hi Matt,

I don't think you did any damage, if water entered the cylinders you would have cracked the block with an immediate shut-down. However, you should consider adding a water separator to the cold air intake, and just for your information, if the motor was damaged from this aftermarket cold air intake, most likely the extended warranty company would not cover it, they will say the car is modified and the claim will be void, I see it all the time. When driving through deep water the O2 sensors may have submerged and probably caused the light to flash, so if the engine is running normally I wouldn't worry. Hope this helps, and keep me posted on any updates. Don't forget to add a water separator to the cold air intake, and make sure the fender liner is intact on that side, it will save your engine :)

Matt on August 28, 2020:

My 2014 Honda Civic LX has the flashing check engine light problem. It had been raining and I had driven through some deep puddles. After pulling over and letting it cool for 5-10 mins, I started it back up and drove it home very carefully(under 3000 rpm and less than 40 mph). The light never came back on but I am worried I may have a serious problem. The car is lowered 2 inches and I have an AEM cold air intake that has the air filter right in front of the drivers side wheel. Is it possible I could have taken water into the engine? The filter is in good condition. If I did take some water, is this the end of the engine? If I did not take water, since the light never came back on, what could have made the light come on and the engine run rough until shutdown? This just happened so I will have more info tomorrow and in the coming days but I am very worried about a serious issue. The car may be able to be fixed as I am still under the extended warranty but I can’t help but feel depressed.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Theo on August 27, 2020:

Hi Eddie

I think I have serious challenge with my RD1 ever since I changed my engine for an RD2 the engine checklight has not gone off and for a couple of years it has been performing well. Now the challenge it recently developed is that so long the engine check light is OFF it keeps on drops on speed and feels light chocking. I can drive for kilometres but have to keep on taking my foot on & off the accelerator to keep it moving. Once the checklight pops up then it's back on a normal drive. What really could be the problem? Thanks for your help.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on August 24, 2020:

Hi Nelly,

Bring it back to the mechanic so they can check their work, they have to remove a lot of parts, and most likely they missed something or broke something during the repair. Keep me posted on what you find, thanks.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on August 24, 2020:

Hi Happy,

Do you know the code? Is it flashing? Is the car running normally?

Happy on August 23, 2020:

All level is Okk but but Show me checking in light

Nelly on August 22, 2020:

Had a new starter but in 2008 Hinda CRV by a Honda Mechanic. Now the check engine light is on, wasn't before.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on August 15, 2020:

Hi Chris,

Once the check engine light comes on it will trigger the other lights as well. if your engine started smoking it is possible you either sprung a leak in the radiator or hose, you need to inspect the vehicle to find out what let go. Let me know if you have more questions, thanks.

chris on August 14, 2020:


My VAS light, along with (!) exclamation point, and

"check engine light "came on. I stopped within 2 minutes to look up the meaning when all of a sudden my engine started smoking like crazy.

Could it be the radiator?

It's a 2007 Honda CRV.

Maybe time for a new car


Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on August 09, 2020:

Hi Olaleye,

I don't have a whatsapp account but you can email me, there is a link to my email next to my photo at the top of this article page or you can ask me anything in this comment box. Hope this helps

Olaleye Raymond on August 03, 2020:

Sir , I must tell you that I find this article very valuable , though I am an auto mechanic with little endure , I have obd2 scanner and I just got my Honda 2008 pilot, if to make you available and accessible can I have your whatsapp number thanks and God bless

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on July 16, 2020:

Hi Paula,

You have a serious electrical issue or your battery is completely dead. Are you jump-starting this car?

Paula on July 15, 2020:

My 2014 Honda Accord . When I turn the steering wheel all the means , the screen inside turns off And it sorta get a little stiff . Sometime when I turn off my car I have to wait 20 min after because then the car doesn’t turn on but when that happens I can’t even lock my vehicle .

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on July 10, 2020:

Hi Adam,

What is the code?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on July 10, 2020:

Hi James,

If the check engine light came on it had to have stored a code, it's possible the mechanic didn't want to address your issue at the time. I recommend getting a small code reader from the auto parts store or Amazon and check it yourself next time it happens because it will happen again. You can pick one up for around $20. Let me know if this will work for you.

James P Chicago on July 09, 2020:

On a 90 minute drive, my yellow engine light came on (not flashing). My gas mileage immediately started falling (though going a steady speed on cruise control) and ultimately fell from 27 down to 23. It didn't come back on while driving during the week around town on vacation, but came back on during the 90 minute drive home. I took my Odyssey into the Honda dealer, and they were unable to find any code, or any history of a code being stored. It's as if this never happened. They had no idea what to try to fix, so they sent me home and said if it happens again to leave the car on and get the code scanned. Is this normal? Something is clearly wrong as the gas mileage has fallen dramatically.

Adam on July 08, 2020:

I had changed the battery and the distributor and still the check engine light is on what should i do now?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on July 06, 2020:

Hi Bwalya,

Not usually unless the engine is running poorly because the dirty oil is clogging something. I recommend you have the code pulled, and it will point you to the problem area. Let me know the code once you pull it, maybe I can help.

Bwalya on July 05, 2020:

Could dirty oil cause the engine check light to stay on for a long time.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on June 17, 2020:

Hi Mjay,

I don't think spraying water caused the problem because engines are exposed to water very often. If you could retrieve the code I may be able to guide you to a solution. The code would start like this; P0... or P0420. There are many codes and it will usually point you to the problem area. Let me know, thanks.

Mjay on June 16, 2020:

I had my 2004 crv’s hood open when I sprayed water on windshield with a hose yesterday, and this morning I have “check engine” sign, seems to be scenario 6, so what would be the remedy? Thank you for your help!

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on June 14, 2020:

Hey Mo, that's awesome! Thanks for coming back here to update me on what happened, I really appreciate it :)

Mo on June 13, 2020:

I cleaned the throttle body, not sticking anymore

Thank you Eddie I really appreciate your help

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 30, 2020:

Hi Brian,

It means you're low on coolant and the sensor is telling the computer to turn the light on to warn you.

BRIAN KASIMU on May 28, 2020:

my radiator started leaking and now the check engine light is on. what could this mean?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 16, 2020:

Hi Ben,

You could have your local auto parts store, garage or dealership check it or you could buy a cheap scanner and check it yourself. There are a lot of things that could cause the check engine light to come on so it's best to check the code without guessing.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 16, 2020:

Hi Mo,

On the hood or front radiator support, you'll find a rubber bumper on each side that is adjustable by turning. I recommend you just unscrew the rubber bumper to apply a little pressure to the hood and the noise should stop :) The gas pedal is a little more in-depth. If you remove the rubber intake hose coming from the air cleaner box and look inside the throttle plate housing you'll see the throttle plate. Open the plate manually with either the linkage or a long screwdriver and you'll notice carbon built up where the throttle place sits. Take some carburetor cleaner and a clean rag and remove the carbon or both upper and lower parts of the intake, if you can manage to clean the edges of the throttle plate that will help as well but your main focus is the intake housing. Once it's clean the throttle will stop sticking :) Let me know how you make out Mo, thanks.

Mo on May 12, 2020:

Hi Eddie

I have a honda accord 1999. I have two problems. This problem has been awhile driver side vibrates when stopped and makes noise. When press on drive side hood goes away the vibration and noise.

i just noticed gas pedal is kind of sticky not going all the way when i press so i have to press it harder after that i do not feel it when driving. It happens when car parked a while.

Thank you

Ben Ghana on May 12, 2020:

Thank you for this information, my Honda Civic 2017 check engine light came on a week now, car drives prefect, how do i check the code, thank you and what could be the issue

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 04, 2020:

Hi Tapson,

What happens when the key is turned to the start position? Does it turn the engine over? Does it click? Do the dash lights come on? Let me know everything you observe, thanks.

Tapson Paul kubvoruno on May 03, 2020:

My honda crv 2000 model dnt want to start there is no engine checklight smd key green light on thr dashboard if I put key on what could the problem and what can I do

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on April 14, 2020:

Hi Marius,

It sounds like you and your family are safe from the COVID19 so I glad about that. The check engine light comes on when there is a hiccup or failure in the emission system, even a loose gas cap can cause the light to come on. I recommend you drive it for a few days as long as it's driving normal and there are no unusual noises and notice if the light goes out on its own. Sometimes the failure will correct itself and the check engine light will go out and stay out. If the light stays on, have the code pulled to identify what may be causing the problem, the code should point you to the system that has failed or hiccuped. Let me know what you find, and if you have more questions, Marius, you know where to find me :)

Marius on April 13, 2020:

Excellent articles and I think helped me to diagnose the yellow engine light warning problem- History: Honda Brio 2014 model, was recently in for service - garage told my wife they have changed something in the engine to better fuel consumption and 95000 km service - had 2 trouble-free weeks and today problems. Car would start for few seconds sounded like the engine will go but died instantly - I checked all lights, battery, hooter enough fuel, loose cables to spark plugs etc Battery all looked OK - then lightbulb moment!! - I took off the red battery cable for few minutes in hope to reset the computer and... it worked!! engine started normally but then with yellow light constant on - its serious lock down time in South Africa and we needed to get home - no mechanic's working let alone Honda dealer! Slow home because manual says possible engine damage - normal power no funny sounds! - so after an hour start it up again, and no yellow light! -

-so my question now: could it be a loose sensor cable? or they fiddling with the engine may be damage O2 sensor? No water problems or critter- relative new car no critters! exhaust and catalytic converter shoud be ok look undamaged.

I really enjoyed the videos and instructions and comments very nice guys!

Regards Marius

George South Africa

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on April 10, 2020:

Hi Philiswe,

Do you know what the code was? If you look at the paperwork it should state P0301 - P0304 or something like that. Let me know, thanks.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on April 10, 2020:

Hi Sunbeamskid,

There are two things to look at but I recommend you pull the code first because it may point you directly to the problem. The V-Tec solenoid system has two screens that become clogged over time and may need to be cleaned or replaced. I don't suspect the engine valves have ever been adjusted and that is a common problem with CR-V's, the valves become tight over time and will need to be adjusted to bring back into spec. I recommend you start will pulling the code and go from there. Let me know if you have additional questions, and keep me posted on what you find please, thanks.

sunbeamskid on April 10, 2020:

Hi Sir,

I have a 2002 CRV and my car runs normally. However, I'm just bothered that the check engine light turns on when I reach 2,000 RPM. I don't feel any change in the engine nor do I hear any sound coming from the engine. The mileage is less than 93,000 miles and I don't normally use it for long drives. I just use it from point A to B and back.

Thank you Sir and I look forward to your reply.

Philisiwe on April 09, 2020:

Hi. So my Honda ballade 1997 suddenly showed the check engine sign while driving. I took the car to a local mechanic,he checked the car and said he sees nothing wrong. He replaced 1 spark plug that was burnt. The car sounds fine and everything in place but the check engine sign is still there.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on April 09, 2020:

Hi Jessica,

It sounds like your alternator is not working or you have a loose battery terminal or connection. Have you had any work done to the engine recently? A quick check for the battery terminals would be to tighten the terminal nuts and check for looseness. Let me know what you find Jess, thanks.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on April 09, 2020:

You're welcome, Steve let me know if I can answer any questions you might have :)

Steven J. Diamond on April 07, 2020:

Great info. thank you.

Jessica on April 06, 2020:

Thank you for your vast knowledge! After having my 2007 Honda Accord washed at a drive through, my car tried to shut down three times in the short 10 minute drive home. By “shutting down” it seemed to be turning itself off when I stopped at a corner the brake light, check engine light and another flashed. Once I turned off the ac and turned the car off and on the car again it was fine for a few miles and then act up again. Just in front of my garage I had turned the ac back on and then it completely died for about three minutes. And then I was able to turn it back on again.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 18, 2020:

Hi Devota,

As long as the engine is running normally you shouldn't have an issue. You could stop at an auto parts store and have them pull the code just so you know what is causing the light to come on or buy a $20 code reader from Amazon. Let me know if you have any other question I can help with :)

Devota on March 17, 2020:

My 2011 Pilot has an emissions light on. It has been in the shop (Honda dealer) recently and had filters changed as well as routine maintenance. Can I drive the pilot, currently they are closed d/t the pandemic.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 15, 2020:

Hi Denise,

The selling dealer will need to repair it until the light stays off. The CR-V is a very reliable vehicle and will serve you well for years to come, but the problem needs to be fixed permanently first. I recommend you be adamant the vehicle is fixed before you drive off again. How many miles are on the vehicle?? There are a lot of things that can cause this code, not just catalytic converters and O2 sensors, a problem causing an out of spec long term/short term fuel trim can also cause this code. An example of this is the engine valves being out of spec or a number of other things that could cause this issue. Keep me posted on what they do, thanks.

Denise on March 12, 2020:


I just bought a used 2011 Honda CRV and 2 days after the enigine light came on. It was right after the first time I got gas and I read the cap and to turn to 'click' and I know it didn't, so I undid it, clicked and waited. Still on the next day, and had code read by my reg mechanic done and it was P0420 Catalyst System Efficiency Below Theshold - he cleared it in case of sitting, etc. Came back on the next day, called dealer that sold it, drove it up and they looked at it and ended up replacing converter 2 days later day (had to wait for part and they are out of town for me). That even after having replaced, it is on again. I am waiting to find out if it was new or aftermarket convertor, I did not ask when I was there. Any ideas? I bought this after being rear-ended and my reliable car was totalled, and I live in a location that has "no-fault" insurance, and I just need a reliable vehicle being a single parent, one special needs child. Thank you for help.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on February 11, 2020:

Hi Barb,

The lean fuel ratio is your problem and it has nothing to do with the gas tank :( The lean fuel ratio is caused by too much air mixing with the fuel going into the engine and something is causing it like MAP sensor, ECU, EGR valve, false reading from a sensor, etc. You're going to need to find a mechanic who understands how to read the DATA list in the vehicles ECU, someone who knows the system parameters and can pick out a faulty reading. I think your best bet is to find a Honda dealer with master-level Honda Technicians, plus Honda may have a service bulletin on that particular problem. Once it's fixed, maybe you can get some money back from the last shop that changed the fuel tank for no reason except lack of knowledge. Let me know what you decide to do, thanks.

Barb on February 06, 2020:

My 2017 Honda CRV check engine emissions light went on...took it in and a diagnostic didn’t show anything but lean ration. I had an inspection about one week prior. They reset it and then It went back on 2 days later. I let they gas get low and got a new tank. They said the scan came out fine. Reset again and now 1 day later it is on again. The car is driving normally. What else should I suggest they check besides the codes?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 08, 2020:

Hi Dusti,

A lot of issues can cause the light to come on. The first step is to have the code pulled from the computer so you'll know what system is not working properly, without knowing the code is like throwing darts at the possible cause. Have the code pulled and let me know what it is and I can help guide you to a solution :)

Dusti Perkins on January 07, 2020:

My 2003 Honda Pilot. Check engine light came on this morning. What could be going on

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 03, 2020:

Hi Irene,

Do you know the code? What is the year and mileage of the vehicle?

Irene on January 02, 2020:

My honda crv when the engine light comes on i doesn't accelerate but its idling normally

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 27, 2019:

Awesome news Ad Taylor, Sometimes it's not the sensor it's a component the sensor is monitoring like a fuel injector, spark plug, ignition coil, etc. Thanks for the update and keep me posted if it happens again.

Ad Taylor on December 25, 2019:

Thanks Eddie, found a great honda mechanic who ran diagnostics..po139 (i think!)..was showing oxygen sensor 2 had had a hiccup, but it was also showing that it was running fine and within the correct parameters. We cleared the error and the car has been running fine since...if it shows again we’ll replace the sensor. He also said its possible a voltage hiccup might have caused the glitch.

Fingers crossed its all sorted!

Thanks again for the advice

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 24, 2019:

Hi Ad Taylor,

If everything is running normal then you may have an issue with the emissions system but the only way to know what's going on is to have the code pulled, once you have the code it will point you to the system that is causing the light to come on. If the light goes out after several drive cycles that means the fault has corrected itself but if it stays on something isn't working properly and needs to be repaired. Let me know if this helps and let me know what the code is, maybe I can shed some light on the issue.

Ad Taylor on December 19, 2019:

Useful info, Eddie...thanks. I have 2012 crz, the engine light just came on and won’t go out.

I can answer no to all the questions, so i’m now a little stuck in knowing what might be the cause.

It was driven normally for 40mins left for 2 hours, then 2mins into new journey it came on.

Car drives fine, no work done recently, fuel cap is tight enough, roads are damp but not excessive, no water leaks!

Light is constant, no other warnings on.

Any ideas,?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 19, 2019:

Hi Erika,

It sounds like you have a loose connection on a ground wire or something. Has this vehicle ever been in an accident or have you had any extensive work done on it recently? Did all these lights illuminate on the same day or did this all happen on different days?

Erika on December 19, 2019:

My 2013 Honda CrV cruise stopped working. Then my check engine light, Power steering light and traction control lights all came on. The cruise came back on once or twice and then all the other lights shut off but didn't stay off. Never had a problem with this car til now. Any thoughts?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 02, 2019:

Hi Tandreamel,

The code P3400 is a generic code, what did the dealer pull for a code? It sounds like you may have a problem with the fuel emissions system, possible a Fuel Tank Pressure Sensor? I recommend you bring it back to the dealer so they can run tests on that system. Keep me posted on what you find, thanks.

Tandreamel on December 01, 2019:

2014 Honda Pilot (76k miles): check engine light came on after refueling (no top off) followed by a heavy acceleration on to highway. Had codes run by autozone; returned a P3400. Took car to dealership, inspected VPS system. Returned no problems with VPS system. Changed oil, got car back. Following day (today) on highway 5 hours into 8 hour drive. Stopped for refueling (topped off this time - generally we do not). Back on road with no heavy acceleration. About 45 minutes later check engine light comes on. Two hours to nearest city. Thoughts??

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 30, 2019:

Hi Masya,

If the O2 sensor was submerged is would cause a problem, I recommend you drive the vehicle for a few days and see if the problem persists. Let me know what happens, thanks.

masya on November 29, 2019:

Honda CRV 2.4, 2015 first start and drive is fine. For about 10 miles Check engine light on and engine shake and die, after a few minute start again check engine is off. And check engine show up again for about 10 miles, shake and die, again and again. This situation happen after I pass flood. Is it O2 sensor having problem or somehing with another sensor..? Thanks.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 29, 2019:

Hi Susan,

The TPMS system usually only has a yellow light, are you sure this is associated with the TPMS system? What does the icon look like?

Susan Poellet on November 28, 2019:

2 weeks ago, my tpms light was on, i was told my passengers back tire sensor was not working, a week later, the yellow symbol came on, so i had the air in my tires filled. A week later, a red engine symbol light is on now?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 21, 2019:

You're welcome Mike :)

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 21, 2019:

Hi Anton,

The check engine light will always come on with the key in the run position regardless if the engine is running or not, it's a system light check so you'll need to at least get the engine running to see if the light is truely on with a code. If you're low on fuel, start by adding some fuel and see what happens, if the light goes out you're in business, if not, you'll have to dig deeper. We are a world apart from each other lol, cheers from New Hampshire USA :)

Mike on November 20, 2019:

Thank toy!

Anton Husselmann on November 17, 2019:

Hi Eddie, will the check enjine light come on when their is little fuel in tenk, its a Honda Ballade 180E. I check the battery, will it solved the problem if I put in more fuel, the car is not starting, is it lack off fuel? I would like to see if the light goes away after I restart it, where to I start? Greetings from Cape Town. RSA

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 14, 2019:

You're welcome Woody :) Let me know if I can answer any questions for you.

Woody on November 13, 2019:

That was very helpful. Just bought a 2010 Honda Pilot. Thanks gor the info

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 13, 2019:

Hi Justin,

Can you hear pressure building up inside the exhaust when the vehicle is losing power? It sounds like your catalytic converter may be clogged so maybe try disconnecting the catalytic converter and see if the problem persists. I know this can be difficult and loud but it's only a test. The reason I think it's a clogged catalytic converter is that the engine temp is getting hot and you're losing power, these are common signs of a clogged cat. Let me know if this works.

Justin on November 12, 2019:

Hi.I have Honda Civic 2008 CTDI 2.2together .Engine light come on and its start loosing the power them the engine getting warm.Computer scan show that is barometric pressure senson but we change both sensor and its still the same.What you think about that?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 12, 2019:

Hi Zoran,

If you can pull the code from the computer I can help pinpoint the problem. Let me know.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 12, 2019:

Hi Hstanf,

I would contact the shop, they may not have secured the afiter housing properly or you could check it first to save you a trip. Let me know what you find, thanks.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 11, 2019:

Hi Jeff, you're welcome.

It's possible you may have had something caught in the mass airflow sensor causing the issue (if your car is equipped with one, it's usually located in the fresh air intake tube). Keep an eye on the light for now, hopefully it doesn't come back on.

Hstanf on November 11, 2019:

Hi Eddie! I have a 1999 Honda CR-V. The check engine light just came on after getting my oil changed and fuel filter replaced. Should I just wait a couple days to see if it goes off or contact the shop? Thanks!

Zoran Boshkovski on November 10, 2019:

I own a honda jazz from 2003, 1.4 petrol automatic. While i was driving the automobile , sudenly, it was not working like it should, the check engine light went on and the car died.. after a few minutes i started the car and the same thing happened only a minute after.. what can be the problem? Please...

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Jeff on November 07, 2019:

Hi Eddie,

Thanks for getting back and answering my questions. I wasnt able to check through obd to get the code but after replacing my engine air filter it just disappear after an hour of driving.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 06, 2019:

Hi Jeff,

I recommend you have the code checked to see if it has anything to do with the work that was just done,