Blog Car Care Advice 7 Top Causes of a Chrysler Check Engine Light (+How to Fix)
Car Care Advice

7 Top Causes of a Chrysler Check Engine Light (+How to Fix)

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The check engine light is undoubtedly one of the more alarming lights on your dashboard, signaling something has gone wrong. However, understanding what the Chrysler check engine light means can help avoid costly repairs.

When it activates, you might find yourself asking:

What should you do? 
Is it safe to keep driving? 

Read on to find out more. 

This Article Contains: 

Let’s dive in.

What Causes the Chrysler Check Engine Light to Turn On?

There are many potential reasons behind the check engine light (CEL) activating on your Chrysler vehicle. Below are some of the most common causes: 

1. Gas Cap Problems

Your car’s gas cap keeps dirt out of the fuel tank while ensuring no harmful vapors escape. A damaged or loose gas cap can reduce fuel pressure and reduce your fuel economy. 

To fix the CEL due to a loose gas cap, check if it’s screwed in correctly, and inspect it for any signs of damage. 

2. Vacuum Leak

Every Chrysler vehicle has a vacuum system that performs various functions, including reducing harmful emissions. High or spiking idle RPMs, along with an active CEL, can indicate a vacuum leak.

3. Low or Dead Battery

The main job of the battery is to start the engine. A weak battery can lead to trouble starting and trigger an engine code since it powers the electrical system.

Most car batteries last between 3 and 5 years. If you spot corrosion, swelling, or a rotten egg smell, it’s worthwhile taking it to a certified technician.

4. Faulty Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF)

The mass airflow sensor measures air flowing into the engine to help the Engine Control Unit (ECU) determine the ideal amount of fuel. 

If your Chrysler vehicle has trouble starting or starts idling rough, it could indicate an issue with the mass airflow sensor. Your best bet is to bring it to a certified mechanic as soon as possible. 

5. Bad Catalytic Converter 

The catalytic converter helps reduce vehicle emissions by converting toxic gases into less harmful ones. Sometimes, unburned fuel can enter the exhaust system and ignite in the catalytic converter, leading to an illuminated check engine light.

6. Failing O2 Sensor (Oxygen Sensor)

The O2 sensor, or oxygen sensor, checks how much oxygen is in the exhaust gases. It relays this data with the ECU to help it calculate the correct air-fuel ratio. 

Aside from an illuminated check engine light, a noticeable decline in fuel economy and black smoke from your exhaust are two common symptoms of a faulty oxygen sensor. 

7. Fouled Spark Plugs or Spark Plug Wires 

The spark plugs generate the spark that ignites the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber, starting the engine. The spark plug wires carry high-voltage electricity from the ignition coil to the plugs. 

Worn spark plugs, spark plug wires, or a failing ignition coil will reduce your engine performance, and in extreme cases, the engine will have trouble starting or continuing to run. Additionally, worn spark plugs and plug wires can result in unburned fuel working into the exhaust system, putting additional strain on the catalytic converter and O2 sensor.

Knowing what you should do when the check engine light activates on a PT Cruiser or other Chrysler models is essential. Let’s take a look.

What to Do if Your Chrysler Check Engine Light Turns On?

Chrysler owners may notice the check engine light activated in different forms. Here’s what to do on a case-by-case basis:

1. Check Engine Light Illuminates under Certain Circumstances

If the check engine light is coming on intermittently, pay attention to how your vehicle performs when the light is on. If you notice any changes, book a Chrysler service and a check engine light diagnosis. An intermittent warning light often suggests that a part is on the verge of failing.

2. Check Engine Light Is Constantly On

If the check engine light remains on, it’s time for a service, or there’s a fault. Your vehicle may still sound fine, but bringing it to a repair shop as soon as possible is best.

A flashing check engine light often indicates something serious has gone wrong, and you should pull over as soon as possible. If you’re not near a repair shop, consider having your vehicle towed or contact a mobile mechanic. 

4. Check Engine Light with Performance Issues

If you notice a flashing check engine light and a noticeable reduction in engine power, your vehicle may have entered “limp mode” to prevent additional damage. Prolonged “limp mode” driving can overheat the engine, damage other components, and cause starting issues. So try to get your car looked at soon.

Now that we’ve covered what to do if your Chrysler’s warning light comes on, let’s see how to reset it. 

How to Reset a Chrysler Check Engine Light?

The check engine light should automatically turn off once a trained mechanic has fixed the underlying issue. In most cases, the yellow light should switch off after about 20-40 miles. However, if the issue persists, the light will reactivate. 

If the Chrysler check engine light doesn’t go off, there are a couple of things you can do to reset it yourself: 

A. Use an OBD II Scanner to Clear the Code

You can use a scan tool like an OBD II scanner to diagnose and find out more about the check engine light code. The scan tool does this by retrieving the fault code information from the vehicle’s onboard computer. 

B. Remove the Negative Battery Terminal

Alternatively, if you don’t have an OBD II scanner, you can try manually resetting the check engine light code. To do so, remove the negative terminal and leave it off for two minutes before reconnecting. However, if the problem persists, the trouble code will reappear, and you should book an appointment with a certified technician.

Note: Clearing a code by disconnecting the battery can reset your radio and other components’ memory.

Next, we’ll investigate whether you should continue driving with the check engine light.

Is it Safe to Drive with the Chrysler Check Engine Light On?

Whether it’s safe or not depends on the severity of the issue. However, a check engine light is an important warning system; ignoring it can damage important engine components. 

It’s best to organize a Chrysler service or have a mobile mechanic perform a check engine diagnosis from your driveway. 

Let’s see how much a check engine light diagnosis typically costs. 

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Chrysler Check Engine Light Diagnosed?

The average cost of having your Chrysler’s check engine light diagnosed is between $95 and $132, which covers the cost of labor and equipment. Additional charges will depend on the cost of fitting new inventory parts. 

Pro tip: Typically, an older vehicle requires more maintenance. That’s why you should look for certified pre-owned vehicles when purchasing used cars. Dealers often repair certified pre-owned vehicles to replicate a new vehicle.

Wrapping Up

Whether driving the popular PT Cruiser or any other model, Chrysler owners may wonder what the check engine light means. It could be a faulty oxygen sensor or bad spark plug wires, but regardless, it’s best to avoid driving when that yellow light activates.

Fortunately, AutoNation Mobile Service is available seven days a week to fix the engine code from your driveway.
We’re a mobile auto repair service offering easy online bookings and a 12,000-mile | 12-month warranty on all repairs.

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