Chrysler Check Engine Light Troubleshooting Guide

Chrysler Check Engine Light On

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. 

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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. 

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.

Common Problems

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. 

How to read Chrysler Check Engine Codes

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.

Instructions

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. 

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. 

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 an OBD-II scanner  to read and clear check engine light. 

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

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. 

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. 

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.

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Jen34 made a comment.
1 year ago

Wow what an excellent article. The check engine light came on in my Chrysler Pacifica and I was very worried that it was going to cost me a lot. Tighten the gas cap and the light went off. Keep these articles up.

 

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