Dodge Check Engine Light: 7 Causes, Solutions, and Essential Tips

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A Dodge check engine light indicates an issue with your vehicle? Often, Dodge owners ask, Why is my check engine light on Dodge? It is part of your Dodge’s On-Board Diagnostics system. It also alerts you to a variety of problems, ranging from minor irritations to serious mechanical problems.

When the check engine light comes on, it indicates that the engine or emission control system has malfunctioned. Dodge check engine lights are not always alarms, but they should not go unnoticed. Is it OK to drive with the check engine light on? 

It depends on the nature of the problem. A blinking light indicates a more severe issue, whereas a steady light suggests a less urgent concern.

It is important to understand how serious a solid check engine light is for preventing potential damage.

Common Causes of the Dodge Check Engine Light

  • Fuel Cap Issues: Your Dodge’s gas cap plays a crucial role in maintaining the right fuel pressure and keeping fuel vapors contained. Dodge check engine light (CEL) may come on if it’s loose, broken, or missing. Fuel economy may suffer if the fuel system cannot maintain proper pressure.
  • Catalytic converter failure: Catalytic converters reduce harmful emissions by converting fuel into oxygen. Eventually, it can become clogged, restricting exhaust gas flow. It is possible for this clogging to cause poor engine performance and then trigger a CEL on the dashboard. It’s a significant problem when a catalytic converter becomes clogged.
Catalytic converter failure
  • Spark plugs and wires: Spark plugs ignite the air-fuel mixture in your Dodge Check Engine Light, allowing it to run. The engine may run jerkily or feel unsteady if they or its wires are faulty or dirty. The CEL is often activated when this problem occurs.
  • Oxygen Sensor Problems: The oxygen sensor measures how much oxygen is in the exhaust of your vehicle. It sends incorrect information to the engine’s computer, disrupting the fuel-air mixture if it is faulty. When the engine is misbalanced, the CEL will illuminate to alert you to the problem.
Oxygen Sensor Problems
  • MAF (Mass Airflow Sensor) Malfunction: This sensor measures airflow into the engine. It malfunctions if the engine receives incorrect air information, disrupting air-fuel mixtures. It can cause engine misfires and a light CEL.
  • Leaks in the vacuum system: Dodge engines use vacuums for various functions. The air-fuel balance is upset if there is a leak. The engine may misfire, and the CEL may illuminate, indicating a vacuum system problem.
  • Ram trucks might experience specific issues, like damaged spark plug wires or ignition coil problems. These issues can cause engine misfires. The CEL on Ram trucks also indicates such issues.

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Symptoms and Severity of Check Engine Light Alerts

It’s helpful to know what the check engine light (CEL) on your Dodge means:

Continuous CEL: A constant light usually indicates a minor issue, but it needs to be checked as soon as possible. It could be a small problem with the engine or something related to emissions.

Flashing CEL: A blinking light is serious, and you should get your car checked immediately. It often points to major issues, like engine problems, that could worsen if ignored.

Intermittent CEL: If the light turns on and off at times, it suggests a problem that comes and gets. While it might not be urgent, it’s still a smart idea to check it.

Common Symptoms When CEL Is On

  • Less Power: Your car might feel weaker and not accelerate as quickly.
  • Hesitation When Speeding Up: Your car might pause or stumble when you speed up.
  • Gear Shifting Issues: If your car changes gear unpredictably, it could be a sign of a problem.

It’s a smart idea to get your Dodge checked if you see any of these signs. You can catch issues early with regular maintenance.

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What to do when Dodge Check Engine Light comes on

Assessing the situation:

  • Look for other dashboard warnings besides the check engine light. An oil pressure alert, an engine temperature alert, or a battery alert might be included. Your car’s symptoms can reveal what’s wrong.
  • Check Engine Temperature: Watch the engine temperature. Your engine might be overheating if it’s higher than usual.
  • Reduce Speed and Load: Slow down and avoid heavy loads if your check engine light is on. You should try to lighten your load if you are towing or carrying heavy items.
OBD-II Scanner

Read Diagnostic Codes: Dodge Check Engine Light

  • Using an OBD-II Scanner: If your check engine light is on, you can use an On-Board Diagnostics II (OBD-II) scanner. Follow the scanner’s instructions to read the diagnostic codes after plugging them into Dodge’s OBD-II port (usually under the dashboard).
  • Retrieving Codes without a Scanner: Some Dodge models, such as the Dakota or Grand Caravan, don’t require a scanner. The ignition key should be turned three times to the ‘ON’ position, then ‘OFF’ again. If you wait a few seconds, you’ll see the codes appear on the dashboard or odometer.

If you follow these steps, you will be able to determine whether it is safe to continue driving or if you need immediate professional help.

Fault codes: what they mean

Dodge check engine light codes displays a fault code when it detects a problem. Here are a few common codes and their meanings:

  1. P0456: This code means there might be a small leak in the fuel vapor system. It could be something simple like a gas cap that’s not right.
  2. P0300: This code tells you that the engine is not running smoothly and misfiring. It could be due to spark plugs or other parts related to engine fuel burn.
  3. P1404: This code is about the EGR valve, which helps lower emissions. If this valve isn’t working right, it can affect car running and increase emissions.

These codes are like clues to help figure out what’s wrong. However, it’s often more effective to get a mechanic to check your car for the exact problem.

Dodge check engine light reset

Here’s how you can reset the Check Engine Light (CEL) on your Dodge, either using an OBD-II scanner or by disconnecting the battery:

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How to use an OBD-II scanner:

  • Turn off the Engine: Make sure your vehicle is turned off.
  • Locate the OBD Port: Find the OBD-II port in your Dodge. It’s usually under the dashboard, near the steering wheel.
  • Insert the OBD-II scanner into the port and connect it.
  • Turn On the Ignition: Switch your ignition to the “on” position, but don’t start the engine.
  • Read and Clear Codes: Use the scanner to read fault codes. Use the scanner option to clear or erase these codes. That should reset the CEL.
  • Turn Off Ignition and Disconnect Scanner: Once the codes are cleared, turn off the ignition and disconnect the scanner.
  • Check the CEL: Start your engine and check if the CEL has turned off.

Battery Disconnection (for older models without an OBD-II system):

Battery Disconnection
  • Open the Hood: Lift your Dodge’s hood.
  • Locate the battery. Find the battery, focusing on the negative terminal.
  • Disconnect the Negative Terminal: Use a wrench to loosen the nut and disconnect the negative cable from the battery.
  • Wait and reconnect. Leave it disconnected for 15 minutes. That should reset the vehicle’s computer system.
  • Reconnect the negative terminal. Reattach the cable and tighten the nut.
  • Start the engine. Turn on your Dodge and check if the CEL has been reset.

If you don’t fix the underlying problem, you can’t reset the CEL. Fixing the CEL requires identifying the cause.

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Costs and Professional Assistance

An engine check typically costs between $80 and $180 for a Dodge. It depends on where you live, what type of Dodge you have, and how complex the check is.

A professional should inspect your car when the Dodge Check Engine Light comes on. The mechanic has the tools and knowledge to determine what the problem is. If the light is on, your engine may be having a simple problem, or it may be a sign of a bigger problem.

Costs and Professional Assistance

It helps to get a professional to check it to ensure that the problem is being addressed correctly. You won’t have to guess what’s wrong, which can save you time and money. Additionally, a mechanic can assist in fixing small problems early to avoid them becoming bigger, more costly problems later on.

In conclusion, Dodge Check Engine Lights (CELs) are crucial for maintaining your Dodge’s health and safety. If you ignore the CEL, you may end up with more serious and costly problems in the future. There is something wrong, and timely action can often prevent minor problems from becoming major ones.

A professional diagnosis and repair are essential for accurate results. When you hire a skilled mechanic, you can ensure the right fix and keep your Dodge in top condition. The key to long-term vehicle reliability and longevity is timely intervention.

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