Engine management light is flashing or lit

April 28, 2022

Burning engine management light: vague message

If the engine management light comes on, it indicates an engine fault. That is a vague message and so you have to go to the dealer to have the engine management system read out. The engine management is a computer in the car that ensures that your engine runs as efficiently as possible.

Engine management is comprehensive

The engine management controls and registers everything from fuel injection and ignition to the lambda sensor in the exhaust system – it also detects, for example, a leak in a vacuum hose, short circuits, problems with the throttle body or electronic connections. Everything that should ensure the optimal functioning of the engine in your car is controlled, measured and registered by the engine management.

Engine management light is on: go to the dealer

Often you do not even notice that the engine runs less well when the engine management light comes on. Quite possibly you have at most felt a small hitch, but nothing seems to be wrong. That is also true to a certain extent. The system does not signal urgent problems, which is why the light is also orange and not red. So drive slowly and go to the dealer as soon as you can. The dealer has the necessary diagnostic equipment and can plug his computer into the car. In this way he can see the cause of the error message(s).

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Engine management light and exhaust gases

For example, the engine management also records the measurements of the lambda probe in the exhaust system. If a mistake occurs there, the car’s emissions may no longer be optimal. You won’t notice it while driving, but your exhaust fumes can exceed the legal standard. And that is not good for our environment, so you have to have the problem fixed.

Engine management light is flashing!

If the engine management light is flashing, there is more going on. Then you probably also notice that the engine does not run well and produces less power. It is then possible that the fuel in one or more cylinders does not ignite or does not ignite sufficiently. And that can damage the engine or the catalytic converter. Get to the garage as soon as your car (and the law) allows. The mechanics there can see what the problem is and hopefully fix it.

Engine management ‘read out’

With a burning engine management light you do not know exactly what the problem is. Fortunately, every petrol car built from 2001 and every diesel car from 2004 is equipped with On Board Diagnostics, or OBD. This system stores all errors signaled by the engine management as error codes in the vehicle’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU). The dealer can read this when he logs into the OBD with his computer. In this way he gets an exact diagnosis of the problem and he knows how to solve it.

Engine management light went off by itself

It is possible that the engine management light in older cars (after all, the system is already used in cars from 2001) gives a false alarm. This can be caused by aging or contamination, causing the system to make an incorrect measurement. If your garage mechanic determines this, he will turn off the warning light and send you away again, telling you to check it out. Incidentally, the system also performs self-tests, so that one-off erroneous messages disappear after a short time and the light goes out again.

Reset engine management light

If the dealer has indeed found and solved a malfunction – in any case if he has read the ECU and cleared the error messages – the engine management light will also go out. That is then ‘reset’. If the problem recurs, or if another problem occurs, the engine management light will come on again. But now you know what to do: drive to the dealer.

Reset the engine management light yourself

If you have the correct diagnostic equipment yourself, you could also read and write down the error codes with the corresponding description. Then you may be able to fix the fault yourself, clear the message and reset the engine management light. But as always, know what you’re doing, because you can do a lot of damage if you don’t do it right.