Chrysler Check Engine Light On

Chrysler Check Engine Light Troubleshooting Guide

Last Updated on Tuesday May 29, 2018

If your Chrysler Check Engine Light (CEL) is staying on or is flashing, don't panic! In this guide, we will look at some of the most common problems that trigger the check engine warning on Chrysler vehicles. You will also find step-by-step instruction and videos on how to use various OBD-II scanners to diagnose Chrysler check engine light yourself. 

Chrysler check engine light comes on to warn the driver that something is wrong with one of the components in your car (in most cases the emission system). Your check engine light can come on for reasons varying from a loose gas cap, bad oxygen sensor, spark plugs, clogged catalytic converter, faulty mass air flow sensor, etc. Even if your Chrysler drives without any performance issues, do not ignore the engine light. If there are no engine noises, the engine doesn't shake and the engine is not overheating, you can continue to drive with caution but get the car diagnosed as soon as possible. 

If your check engine light is flashing you should pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. It is recommended to have the vehicle towed to avoid further damage to the engine and the catalytic converter. 

Check engine light should not be ignored. At a minimum, you need to read the codes and find out why the CEL come on. Ignoring the check engine light can potentially cause problems to other systems. For example, if the check engine light cames on because the engine is running too rich, not only will your fuel MPG decrease, but you will shorten the life of the catalytic converter which can be very expensive to repair. 

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1. Chrysler Check Engine Light Symptoms

If your Chrysler check engine light is on, pay attention to how your car is performing. In some cases, you may notice one or more of the following problems: 

  • Rough idling
  • Poor acceleration
  • A decrease in MPG/fuel economy. 
  • Engine shakes or runs rough
  • Engine overheating

The symptoms can vary depending on which component or sensor is malfunctioning.

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2. Common problems that trigger Chrysler check engine light 

Let's look at some of the most common causes that can trigger Chrysler CEL to come on.

Fuel Gas Cap

Chrysler check engine light on due to loose gas cap

One of the most common reasons that a Chrysler check engine light comes on is due to a loose gas cap. If that's the case, you will not notice any performance issues at all. Check the gas cap and tighten it until you hear it click. Newer Chryslers do not have a gas cap at all but they have what is called a capless design.  You can continue to operate the car unless the check engine light is flashing.

If a loose gas cap triggered the check engine light, retighten the cap or replace it. Your check engine light will not reset right away but can take up to three days to reset on its own. Alternatively, use an OBD-II scanner to clear the code. 

The truth is that the problem is not always a loose gas cap.  Based on our research here is a list of the most common issues that can trigger Chrysler check engine light. 

  • MAF: Mass air flow sensor is defective.
  • Spark Plugs: It is time to change your spark plugs. Typical spark plug change interval is 60,000 or 1000,000 miles based on spark plug type. 
  • O2 Sensor: You have a defective oxygen sensor. 
  • Exhaust: Catalytic converter may be damaged and need to be replaced. 
  • Ignition: Defective ignition coil needs to be replaced. It recommended (but not required) to replace all at the same time.  
  • Vacuum leaks: Vacuum leaks due to a cracked intake air hose.

You should not replace car parts based on this list. Without reading the codes, it is impossible to know why your Chrysler check engine light is on.  This is a very easy procedure that you can perform yourself, or have a mechanic or dealer perform for you. If your Chrysler check engine light continues to stay on, the first step is to read the fault codes. 

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3. Chrysler Check Engine Light Reset

Let's take a look at step-by-step instructions on how to read and clear Chrysler check engine light. These instructions work on 1996 and newer Chrysler vehicles including Chrysler models such as Town and Country, 300, 300M, 200, Aspen, Pacifica, Sebring, Voyager, PT Cruiser, Crossfire, LHS, Cirrus, 300C. First, we will take a look at the procedure. Next, you can watch a few videos on how to read and clear Chrysler check engine light using various scan tools. Keep in mind that clearing the codes without addressing the problem does not fix anything. The light will come back on again within a few days. 

Step 1: Turn on the ignition

turn on chrysler ignition to scan for codes

Turn the key to position II. All the dashboard lights will turn on. If your Chrysler has START/STOP feature, press the button TWICE without pressing the brake pedal. Your Chrysler will turn on, but the engine will not start. 

Step 2: Plug scanner into the OBD-II port

Chrysler obd port location to read fault codes diagnostic trouble codes

Next, connect your Chrysler scan tool to the OBD-II port under the dashboard. Note that the connector only fits in one direction. 

Step 3: Read and clear codes

The next step is to read the codes. Now we are going to take a look at using various scan tools to diagnose Chrysler check engine light. 

First, we will take a look at reading Chrysler fault codes using a generic OBD-II scanner, or what we refer to as Level 1 OBD-II scanner.

Next, we use MaxiScan  OBD-II scanner to read and clear check engine light. MaxiScan is an inexpensive scanner that works on most makes and models. 

What we used:

MaxiScan MS309 Scanner

Watch how to use a Bluetooth OBD-II adaptor and your smartphone to diagnose your Chrysler check engine light. 

What we used:

ELM327 OBD-II Bluetooth Adaptor

Watch how to use a multi-system scanner to diagnose the check engine light. These scanners allow you to diagnose other systems as well such as airbag and ABS. 

What we used:

Foxwell NT630 OBD-II ABS Airbag Scanner

Let's use another multi-system OBD-II scanner which allows you to diagnose Chrysler check engine light, airbag system, ABS system and transmission. 


What we used:

Launch Creader Engine Transmission Scanner

Lastly, we use a professional diagnostic scanner to diagnose the check engine light. A professional scanner offers similar functions to the scanner used at the Chrysler dealership. It is capable of reading and clearing codes from various systems. It can also activate and test individual sensors. Perform calibration and programming of modules as well. 

What we used:

Autel MaxiDAS Scanner




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4. Read codes, what's next? 

Once you retrieve the fault code(s) from the ECU, it is time to research the problem. Write down the code and search online to see if other Chrysler owners have had that problem and how they fixed it. Quite often the solution for the same code can vary from make to make. If you don't find enough information, find a reliable mechanic who can give you a second opinion. 

It is highly recommended that you get a second opinion from a mechanic before you replace parts.  While in most cases the fault code is all you need to determine the defective part, that's not always the case. 

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5. Chrysler Check Engine Light Repair Cost

Typical cost to diagnose Chrysler check engine light ranges between $75 and $120. There are a few dealers and local repair shops that also offer free check engine light diagnostics. Call a Chrysler dealer or auto mechanic to get a more accurate quote. The shop you choose will ask you to bring the car into the shop so that they can read the codes.

Auto parts stores such as Autozone, Advance Auto or PepBoys also read the codes free of charge. Even if you don't plan on fixing or repairing the car yourself, it always helps to know the diagnostic trouble codes. 

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6. How does Chrysler check engine light work? 

Chrysler check engine

The ECU monitors various sensors mounted on the engine block, intake and exhaust such as temperature, air flow or O2 sensors. If an anomaly is determined or a sensor is operating out of range it stores a fault code in the Engine Control Unit (ECU). These codes are known as Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC) often referred to as fault codes. Retrieving the fault code from the ECU is the first procedure that is performed to find why the check engine light is on. This can be performed by a mechanic, Chrysler dealer or yourself.  

Your Chrysler dealer will diagnose the check engine light free of charge if the vehicle is under warranty. If your Chrysler is not under warranty, you will have to pay (in most cases) when you take your car to the dealer or auto mechanic. If you can't find a shop that will read your codes for free, consider buying an OBD-II scanner and read Chrysler check engine light yourself. Some OBD-II scanners cost as little as $15 USD. 

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7. Chrysler OBD-II Scan Tools

Even entry-level OBD-II/EOBD Scanners will be able to read and clear Chrysler fault codes. To learn more about various options take a look at this article on Level 1 OBD-II scanners.

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Check Engine Light Flashing

If your check engine light is flashing it means that the engine control unit has detected a misfire. You should stop as soon as possible and have your vehicle towed if necessary to prevent further damage to the engine or catalytic converter. 

What this means is that one or more of your cylinders are not working properly. This can be caused by a number of things such as bad spark plug, faulty ignition coil, bad ECU, clogged catalytic converter. 

If your car is flashing the check engine light and you continue to drive, you can damage the engine or the catalytic which can cost anywhere from $800 to $1500 to replace.

Top 10 Causes of Check Engine Light

Here is a list of the most common causes of Check Engine Light. Average costs to repair these problem has been included. Please note that for high-end vehicles the repair cost can be outside of this range. The repair costs shown below are typical prices you will pay at the dealers and auto repair shop. When a DIYer performs these repairs the average cost is significantly lower. 

  1. Oxygen Sensors 
    • Repair Cost: $200-$400
    • Repair Difficulty: Easy 
  2. Catalytic converter
    • Repair Cost: $750-$1500
    • Repair Difficulty: Moderate 
  3. Spark Plugs
    • Repair Cost: $250-$600
    • Repair Difficulty: Easy
  4. Loose Gas Cap
    • Repair Cost: Free - $25
    • Repair Difficulty: Very Easy
  5. Mass Air Flow MAF Sensor
    • Repair Cost: $200-$400
    • Repair Difficulty: Easy
  6. EVAP Purge Control Valve
    • Repair Cost: $120-$400
    • Repair Difficulty: Easy
  7. Ignition Coils
    • Repair Cost: $140-$600
    • Repair Difficulty: Easy
  8. Thermostat
    • Repair Cost: $200-$650
    • Repair Difficulty: Moderate
  9. Camshaft Position Sensor
    • Repair Cost: $150-$400
    • Repair Difficulty: Easy
  10. Fuel Injectors
    • Repair Cost: $350-$650
    • Repair Difficulty: Easy

Important Notes

  1. Clearing the check engine light using a scanner or by disconnecting the car battery does not fix the problem itself. Clearing codes without fixing the problem simply erases the codes from Engine Control Unit memory. Also keep in mind that if your car requires an emissions test soon after you clear the code, you will fail the emissions test. Clearing (CEL) codes also set the emissions readiness indicators to NOT READY. The car will require a few days of driving or a specific drive cycle to test all the emission systems and set them to READY.
  2. We recommend that you get a second opinion from a professional before you replace any parts. Do not replace car parts based on the fault code alone. It is important to consider the symptoms and the code before you come to a conclusion. For example, you may get a code for a bad oxygen sensor. While the oxygen sensor can surely be defective, a code for oxygen sensor can also be triggered by a cut wire, bad connector,  bad catalytic converter etc. Keep in mind that even a mechanic may have a difficult time diagnosing those rare cases. 
  3. If your check engine light turns on while driving continually monitor the engine temperature and oil pressure light. If any of these lights turn on, safely pull over and turn off the engine. 
  4. Do not ignore the Check Engine Light warning. Diagnose your vehicle as soon as possible.
  5. Auto parts stores such as Advance Auto Parts or AutoZone may offer free scanning of the Check Engine Light. 
  6. Check Engine Light (CEL) may also be referred to as Service Engine Soon (SES), malfunction indicator lamp (MIL). 

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, disconnecting the battery usually clear the ECU codes. By turning the check engine light off this way you will not fix the problem. If you believe the check engine light needs to be off, drive the car for a few days and the CEL will reset itself. The Onboard Diagnostic System in your car continually monitors your vehicle and will turn off the CEL if the problem is solved. If the problem hasn't been resolved, even if you disconnect the battery, the CEL will come back up again which can be as soon as you restart the car or up to a few days.

If check engine light is on, it will not pass emission inspection/smog test. If the light was recently reset with an OBD2 scanner or by disconnecting the battery, you need to drive the car for a couple of days for the systems to be ready for testing.

It could be because you are using an OBD2 scanner that does not support the protocol used in your car. Try a different scanner. Also, there may be an issue communicating with the ECU due to a damaged wire or ECU malfunction.

No. The check engine light is not the reason why the car doesn't start. If the car doesn't start, read the codes and maybe the CEL will give you a code that can help you diagnose the car. Clearing codes will not make your car start.

It may be just bad timing. An oil change is not going to trigger the CEL. Unless MAYBE a sensor got accidentally unplugged, disconnected or damaged during the oil change. Take your car back to the auto repair shop that changed your oil and have them diagnose the problem.

No, the CEL should not turn on after routine maintenance. If you modified your engine, transmission, exhaust, intake, fuel system or other systems it can affect engine and emission control system, causing check engine or service engine soon light to come on. CEL should not come on if you changed tires or tire size.

Drive the car for a couple of days and allow the ECU to reset itself. If the CEL still remains on, read codes.

The check engine light is trying to tell you that there is a problem with your engine. It could be low coolant, stuck thermostat, transmission not shifting. Figure out why your car is overheating first and address that problem. DO NOT CONTINUE TO DRIVE IF YOUR CAR OVERHEATS.


Posted by Jen34 on May 25, 2018 @ 00:01 am