Car Questions
RepairPal is your advocate for car care advice and guidance

Safe to drive with engine light on?

(1997 GMC Suburban 1500)
in San Bernardino, CA on February 26, 2011
We've got a 97 suburban 1500; the engine light comes off and on, have tried different grades of gas, had the gas cap replaced, and have taken it to the shop but it just keeps coming back on. Any ideas why? Is it safe to drive this way? It's got a pinch over 127K miles. Thanks!
Displaying 1 answers & 1 comments
Popular Answer
If the Check Engine Light/Service Engine Soon light illuminates while you are driving, the car's on board computer sees a fault in the engines management system that is causing an excess amount of pollutants to be emitted from your car. This could result in engine damage if left neglected. Some problems that can cause the Check Engine light to stay on may take two "drive cycles' to complete before illuminating the Check Engine Light. The computer sees a problem and looks for an identical set of circumstances to occur to confirm that it has indeed seen a problem before turning on the light. A Check Engine light that continually flashes while you are driving is serious and is a sign that the computer sees a problem that seriously risks damaging the catalytic converter which may result in an expensive repair or even may cause a fire! Diagnostic codes are stored in the vehicle's computer and can be retrieved using a scan tool that communicates with the computer in your car. We have in our Repairpal website an encyclopedia with in depth articles about computer, and computer control systems, emission and driveability problems.
on February 27, 2011
Thank you for that! We are in southern California and it's passed emissions; we thought for a while it was the brand and/or grade of gasoline, or junk in the bottom of the tank since the light doesn't come on and stay on. This last time my husband was about two miles away from the repair shop (had just gotten and oil change, topped fluids, changed brake pads) when it popped back on. We had to replace one of the original catalytic converters when we first got it--I wonder if the other one needs to be replaced now...
RepairPal estimates are guaranteed at over 2,000 quality certified locations nationwide. Learn more
Didn't find what you were looking for?