Check Engine Light Flashing And Car Shaking – 12 Causes

When the check engine light flashing and car shaking illuminates our dashboard, it can send a wave of panic through even the most experienced drivers. The enigmatic warning symbol is often accompanied by an accompanying sensation of car shaking or vibrations, leaving us wondering what could be wrong with our beloved vehicle.

Is it merely a minor issue that can be easily fixed, or does it indicate a more severe problem that requires immediate attention? This article will delve into the common causes behind the shaking car check engine light, uncovering potential reasons for this unsettling combination and exploring the fixes to diagnose and resolve these issues effectively.

What Causes the Check Engine Light Flashing and Car Shaking?

There are many causes of check engine light flashing and car shaking:

Malfunctioning Cylinder

The engine in your vehicle consists of multiple cylinders that work together to generate power. If one of these cylinders is not functioning correctly, it can lead to a rough-running engine and cause the entire car to shake.

Check Engine Light Flashing And Car Shaking

There are several reasons why a cylinder may malfunction, including issues with the fuel injector or spark plug. A faulty fuel injector can result in insufficient fuel delivered to the cylinder, causing misfires and ultimately leading to shaking.

A worn-out or damaged spark plug can fail to create the necessary spark for ignition, resulting in poor combustion and rough running. In either case, it is crucial to address these issues promptly, as they can lead to more severe damage if left unresolved.

Problems With Your Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter is crucial in reducing harmful emissions from your vehicle’s exhaust system. It can become clogged or damaged, leading to many problems.

One common cause of catalytic converter issues is the buildup of carbon deposits. Exhaust gas flow is restricted when these deposits accumulate on the converter’s surface. This can trigger the check engine light and result in rough idling or shaking while driving.

Another possible cause is physical damage to the catalytic converter, such as cracks or punctures. This can occur due to impacts from road debris or accidents. When damaged, the converter may not function properly, leading to poor engine performance and vibrations in your car.

Bad Spark Plugs

Spark plugs play a crucial role in the combustion process of your vehicle’s engine by igniting the air-fuel mixture that powers the pistons. Spark plugs wear out due to their constant exposure to heat, pressure, and electrical arcing.

When worn or faulty, they can misfire or cause incomplete combustion, leading to poor engine performance and even car shaking. Your spark plugs may be causing both the check engine light and the vehicle to shake if these issues arise suddenly rather than gradually.

Bad Ignition Ring

The ignition ring is an essential component in your car’s ignition system that helps initiate combustion. When this small but mighty part becomes faulty or damaged, it can disrupt the smooth operation of your engine.

The check engine light illuminates as a warning sign indicating something isn’t right under the hood. The vibrations caused by an impaired ignition ring can lead to your car shaking noticeably while driving.

Clogged Fuel Filter

The fuel filter plays a crucial role in ensuring only clean fuel reaches the engine, protecting it from contaminants that could lead to costly repairs. The filter can become clogged with debris and sediment, hindering fuel flow and causing various issues.

When the fuel filter is clogged, it restricts the amount of fuel reaching the engine. This lack of proper fuel supply can result in reduced power output and poor acceleration, leading to car shaking as the engine struggles to perform efficiently.

Check Engine Light Flashing And Car Shaking

Inadequate fuel flow can cause misfires or even stall the engine altogether. This problem triggers the check engine light on your dashboard as a warning sign that something is amiss with your vehicle’s performance.

Faulty Intake Gasket

The intake gasket plays a crucial role in the engine’s functioning by sealing the gap between the intake manifold and cylinder heads. When this gasket becomes worn or fails, it can result in various problems that trigger the check engine light and cause your car to shake.

An air leak is one major issue arising from a faulty intake gasket. This happens when the gasket no longer seals appropriately, allowing unfiltered air to enter the combustion chamber.

The excess air disrupts the fuel-to-air ratio needed for proper combustion, leading to misfires and reduced engine performance. You may experience rough idling or noticeable shaking while driving.

Rough Rear Drive Shaft and U Joints

One potential culprit behind these symptoms could be a rough rear drive shaft and worn-out U joints. The rear drive shaft is responsible for transferring power from the transmission to the rear wheels of your car.

This component can become damaged or wear out, leading to an imbalance in power distribution. This imbalance can result in vibrations that travel throughout the vehicle, causing it to shake.

Another potential cause of the check engine light and car shaking could be worn-out U joints. U joints are flexible couplings that connect different sections of the drive shaft, allowing for smooth rotation even when there are changes in angle or alignment. Like any other mechanical part, they are subject to wear and tear over time.

Bent Axle

The axle is a crucial component connecting the wheels to the transmission, allowing them to rotate smoothly. If it becomes bent or damaged, it can cause vibrations that are felt throughout the vehicle. This can lead to an uncomfortable ride and potential damage to other components.

Check Engine Light Flashing And Car Shaking

There are several reasons why an axle may become bent. One common cause is hitting a pothole or curb at high speed, putting immense pressure on the axle, and bending it out of shape.

Another possibility is getting involved in a collision where the impact directly affects the axle’s integrity. Overloading your vehicle beyond its weight capacity can strain the axles and potentially result in bending or breaking.

Misaligned Tires

When your car’s check engine light illuminates and starts shaking, the culprit behind these symptoms is misaligned tires. Tire alignment refers to the adjustment of the angles at which your tires make contact with the road. When your tires are not correctly aligned, it can lead to uneven wear and tear, resulting in a bumpy ride and potential shaking of the entire car.

Misaligned tires can be caused by multiple factors, such as hitting potholes or curbs, worn-out suspension parts, or regular wear over time. When your tires are out of alignment, it puts additional stress on various components of your car.

Such as steering and suspension systems. You may experience a shaky driving experience and an illuminated check engine light indicating something is amiss under the hood.

Loose Hoses

Hoses are crucial in transporting fluids such as coolant, fuel, and air throughout various parts of the engine. When these hoses become loose or disconnected, it can lead to several problems that trigger the check engine light and cause the car to shake.

One possible reason for loose hoses is normal wear and tear over time. The constant exposure to heat, vibrations, and pressure can cause connections to loosen up gradually.

Check Engine Light Flashing And Car Shaking

Another possibility is improper installation or maintenance by inexperienced mechanics, leading to loosely fitted hoses that may come off quickly. Extreme temperature changes can also affect hose integrity, causing them to expand or contract excessively and eventually become loose.

Misadjusted or Worn Out Belts

Belts are crucial in adequately functioning various components in your vehicle, such as the alternator, power steering pump, and air conditioning compressor. These belts can become loose or deteriorate from regular use, causing them to slip or break altogether.

When a belt is misadjusted or worn out, it can lead to several problems, resulting in the check engine light turning on and your car shaking. If the serpentine belt responsible for driving multiple components becomes loose or damaged, it may affect the performance of vital systems like charging the battery or powering the steering wheel.

Bad Coolant Temperature Sensor

This sensor plays a crucial role in monitoring the temperature of the engine coolant, ensuring that it stays within safe operating limits. When the sensor malfunctions, it can send incorrect readings to the vehicle’s computer system, which may trigger the check engine light and cause the car to shake.

A bad coolant temperature sensor can lead to various issues with your vehicle. It may cause your engine to run hotter than usual, overheating, or damage vital components. If the sensor sends false signals indicating that the engine is cold when it’s hot, your car’s fuel mixture may become too rich.

This imbalance can lead to poor fuel economy and increased emissions. A malfunctioning coolant temperature sensor can affect other systems like air conditioning or electronic stability control by providing inaccurate data.

How to Fix a Check Engine Light Flashing and Car Shaking?

Here are some fixes for Check Engine Light Flashing and Car Shaking:

Take Your Vehicle to a Professional Repair Shop

Ignoring these warning signs can lead to more severe issues down the line. A flashing check engine light indicates a serious problem with your vehicle’s engine or emission system. It could be as simple as a loose gas cap or something more complex like a faulty sensor or catalytic converter.

Check Engine Light Flashing And Car Shaking

Attempting to fix these issues without proper knowledge or equipment can cause further damage to your vehicle and put you at risk. By taking your car to a professional repair shop, you ensure that trained technicians will diagnose the problem accurately using specialized tools and equipment.

They have the expertise to pinpoint the exact issue causing the car shaking check engine light on, allowing for an effective and efficient repair.

DIY and Check the Components That Could Be the Source of the Problem

First, you should check the components potentially causing this issue. Start by inspecting your spark plugs, as worn or fouled plugs can cause misfires, leading to a flashing check engine light. If they appear dirty or damaged, it’s time for a replacement.

Move on to checking your ignition coils. Faulty coils can also result in misfires and make your car shake uncontrollably. Inspect them for any cracks or signs of damage; if found, they must be replaced immediately.

Another possible culprit behind these symptoms could be a clogged fuel injector. Deposits may build up over time, restricting proper fuel flow and affecting engine performance.

Can Your Engine Make Your Car Shake?

A malfunctioning engine can lead to vibrations in your car, resulting in shaking. Several factors contribute to this shaking phenomenon. They include bad motor mounts, an engine misfire, or internal engine failure.

Check Engine Light Flashing And Car Shaking

Bad Motor Mounts

A culprit could be bad motor mounts. These essential components are crucial in securing the engine to your vehicle’s chassis, reducing vibrations, and ensuring a smooth ride. Motor mounts can wear out or become damaged, leading to excessive engine movement and that unnerving shaking sensation.

When motor mounts start failing, they can cause issues beyond mere vibrations. You may notice increased noise levels from the engine compartment as the mounting brackets fail to dampen the sound effectively.

As the engine moves around more than it should due to faulty mounts, other parts, such as belts and hoses, may get strained or even damaged by this excessive motion.

Engine Misfire

An engine misfire occurs when insufficient fuel or spark ignites the air-fuel mixture in one or more misfire cylinders. This can cause the engine to run unevenly and result in noticeable vibrations felt throughout the entire car.

A common cause of an engine misfire is a faulty spark plug. Spark plugs can become worn out or covered in deposits, hindering their ability to create a strong enough spark to ignite the fuel mixture.

One or more cylinders may not fire properly, leading to a rough-running engine and noticeable shaking. Regularly replacing and maintaining your spark plugs can help prevent this issue from occurring.

Internal Engine Failure

The leading cause behind this unnerving experience is internal engine failure. When various internal components wear out or become damaged over time, it can lead to an imbalanced and rough-running engine that causes vibrations throughout the vehicle.

Check Engine Light Flashing And Car Shaking

The consequences of internal engine failure go far beyond mere discomfort; they can spell disaster for your vehicle’s overall performance and longevity. When the engine fails to start altogether, it’s often due to a malfunctioning ignition system or fuel delivery issues caused by faulty components within the engine itself.

It isn’t the sole culprit responsible for shaking cars; other factors can also contribute. Bad ignition timing can wreak havoc on your engine’s performance and cause noticeable trembling sensations.

Article Summary

If you ever experience a check engine light flashing and car shaking, it is essential to take immediate action. Ignoring these warning signs can lead to severe damage to your vehicle and potentially put you and others at risk on the road. Pulling over safely as soon as possible and having your car inspected by a qualified mechanic is recommended.

They will be able to diagnose the issue and provide the necessary repairs or maintenance needed to get your car back in working order. Taking prompt action can save you time and money and potentially prevent more extensive damage.


Can I reset the check engine light myself to stop it from flashing?

Resetting the check engine light without addressing the underlying problem will not fix anything and may lead to further complications.

Is it safe to continue driving if the symptoms disappear after a while?

Even if the symptoms disappear temporarily, having your vehicle inspected by a professional technician as soon as possible is still advisable.

Can disconnecting the battery reset the check engine light and stop the shaking?

Disconnecting the battery may temporarily turn off the check engine light, but it won’t fix the underlying problem causing the shaking. It’s advisable to have your vehicle properly diagnosed by a mechanic.