Blog Car Care Advice 6 Causes of a Dodge Check Engine Light (+What to Do)
Car Care Advice

6 Causes of a Dodge Check Engine Light (+What to Do)

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An illuminated check engine light on your Dodge means your vehicle needs attention.  

The light, however, could activate for several reasons, including engine problems caused by a loose gas cap, a failing catalytic converter, or faulty spark plug wires. 

We’ll discuss the six main causes of an illuminated check engine light on your vehicle, what to do if your check engine light is on, and answer some other common questions. 

This Article Contains:

Let’s illuminate the dashboard warning light issue. 

What Causes the Dodge Check Engine Light to Turn On?

Dashboard warning light triggers are usually standard across Dodge models – including the Dodge Grand Caravan and most Dodge Ram vehicles. Here are some of the most common issues:

1. Gas Cap Problems

A loose, broken, or missing gas cap can trigger the check engine light on your dash.  

The gas cap helps maintain the fuel pressure inside the fuel tank. When faulty, it could affect the fuel system and reduce fuel economy. Your car’s Engine Control Unit (ECU) will register the P0440 trouble code if there are issues with the gas cap.

Note: You can use an OBD II scanner to read the code and confirm this. Most Dodge and Ram Vehicles are compatible with it. 

2. Failing Catalytic Converter 

The catalytic converter is a part of the exhaust system. But it tends to clog over time, reducing how well it can remove carbon monoxide from the exhaust gases. 

A clogged catalytic converter can trigger the engine warning light when the buildup of carbon monoxide emissions in the exhaust system causes overheating and poor engine performance. If your clogged catalytic converter isn’t functioning properly, the OBD II scanner will show a P0420 engine code. 

3. Faulty Spark Plugs or Spark Plug Wires 

When you turn on your car, the spark plugs (and spark plug wires) receive high-voltage electricity through the ignition coil. Each spark plug ignites the air-fuel mixture that starts the engine. 

A dirty or worn spark plug (or bad ignition coil) may lead to an engine misfire (and poor engine performance), which triggers the check engine light. Faulty spark plugs can also impact your fuel economy. Your ECU will register a P0300 or P0171 code if your spark plugs or plug wires are the issue.

4. Faulty Oxygen Sensor (O2 Sensor)

When the ECU receives inaccurate readings from the oxygen sensor, it supplies the engine with the wrong amount of fuel and air, leading to an engine misfire, poor engine performance, and bad fuel economy.  

Why does this happen?
The oxygen sensor is constantly exposed to hot exhaust gases, which results in its deterioration over time. Depending on the specific oxygen sensor problem, the P0175, P0713, P0171, or P0162 check engine light codes may appear.

5. Faulty Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF)

The mass airflow sensor (MAF) sensor measures how much air enters the engine. When it malfunctions, the engine receives the wrong fuel-air mixture, resulting in a misfire and an active CEL. The engine code for a faulty MAF is P0101, but several other check engine light codes often appear simultaneously. 

6. A Vacuum Leak 

The vacuum system pushes gas fumes through the engine to reduce harmful emissions. It also provides a vacuum environment to control RPMs. 

If the vacuum system leaks, unmetered air enters the combustion chamber. This affects the air-fuel mixture, resulting in an engine misfire and an active CEL. The ECU will register a P2279 diagnostic trouble code if this happens.

Now that you know some likely culprits for your illuminated check engine light, let’s look at what to do next. 

What to Do If Your Dodge Check Engine Light Turns On?

Besides reading the specific error code, the key trick to assessing the CEL severity on your Dodge Grand Caravan or another model is observing the way it turns on. You may see a flashing light, a constant light, or even a check engine light that only comes on occasionally. 

1. Check Engine Illuminates under Certain Circumstances 

Take note of any performance change when the check engine light turns on. If the change is significant, it’s likely that a component is about to fail. So, get your vehicle looked at soon. 

2. Check Engine Light Is Constantly On

If your check engine light remains illuminated, it’s certain something needs fixing or that a service is due. While your vehicle may perform without any issues, it’s best to take it to a professional mechanic as soon as possible. 

3. Check Engine Light Is On with Performance Issues

If you notice a constant performance drop in addition to your illuminated check engine light, then it’s likely your vehicle is in “limp mode.” Modern cars use this mode to limit the speed and engine power to ensure vehicle protection. So, get your car to a mechanic ASAP to diagnose the check engine code.

A red warning light or a flashing check engine light usually indicates a severe problem with your car. So, it’s best to pull over, turn off the ignition, and call for assistance. 

Before you get a check engine light diagnosis, here are some other things you should know.  

Will the Check Engine Light Reset Itself?

Typically, the check engine light on your Dodge turns off automatically when the corresponding problem is fixed. 

However, if you turn on your ignition and the yellow light is still active, you should take your Dodge vehicle back to the mechanic. It’s likely the underlying diagnostic trouble code hasn’t been properly addressed. 

Is It Safe to Drive with a Dodge Check Engine Light On?

The check engine light may indicate several issues with your vehicle, each varying in severity. So, it’s not easy to assess whether driving with the yellow light on is safe or best for vehicle protection.

What should Dodge owners do?

The key trick is to get specific – find out what the registered check engine light error code on your car means. Pinpointing the problem is critical to understanding whether it’s safe for Dodge owners to drive or not.

However, if you have a flashing check engine light, stop driving immediately and contact a mechanic.  

How Much Does a Dodge Check Engine Light Diagnosis Cost?

Typically, the cost of a check engine light diagnosis ranges from $80-$180. 

However, the cost of fixing the issue will vary, depending on the problem. A faulty oxygen sensor or loose gas cap won’t set you back much, but a catalytic converter replacement could cost up to $2500. 

So, if you don’t have a vehicle protection plan, you may want to invest in one to save money on future check engine light services. 

Final Thoughts

In many cases, you needn’t panic if your check engine light is triggered. But if it’s a flashing light or you notice a marked difference in your vehicle performance, the problem needs immediate attention. 

Why not save time by getting a mobile mechanic like AutoNation Mobile Service to come to your driveway? 
Our expert technicians are available seven days a week. In addition, we offer a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty on all repairs.

Contact us today for any engine problems or other issues you’re having with your Dodge vehicle.