Selling Car With Check Engine Light On – Is It A Good Idea?

Selling Car With Check Engine Light On – Is It A Good Idea?

Selling a car with check engine light on

Are you confused about whether you should get your car repaired or leave the check engine light on before selling? The check engine light is an indicator that goes on in case of malfunction in the vehicle. The primary purpose it serves is to inform the car owner about any issue in the car.

It can either turn out to be a minor issue or an incredibly significant and costly problem.

When selling a car, the first thing to be considered is why the check engine light is on. Selling your car while knowing about an underlying issue is never a good idea. We’re talking about high fines and potential imprisonment here.

Below is a detailed discussion regarding selling your car with the check engine light on. To know more about it, stick with us.

Should I Sell My Car With The Check Light On?

The first and foremost answer is no. It is unethical, unconscionable, and illegal. Now, why is it so? The aforementioned includes a few reasons.

When a check engine light comes on, it means it needs to be addressed. Either get the problem in your vehicle fixed or disclose it to the potential buyers but never conceal it from them.

Also, it is not necessary for the check engine light to appear only when there is an engine problem. Check engine lights often turn up on their own after you travel a couple of miles altogether.

Or it could be a mere gas evaporation warning triggered by an incorrectly tightened or broken gas cap. It can be set off by anything, be it low battery power or tattered engine parts.

Should I Get My Car Repaired Before Selling?

Yes, you should. OR you could mention the issue in the advertisement or personally inform the potential buyer about the underlying problem. If you go with the first option, then I’d say you’re doing it right.

It might only cost a few bucks, probably a $15 or $20 at the most if the problem is minor.

All you need to do is go to an auto store (if you live in the US, AutoZone is preferred), and tell the mechanic about the CEK. They will scan the codes to determine what problem your car is facing and perform it for FREE.

The code lets you know what is wrong with your car. And once you know the root of the problem, you can quickly clear the codes and get the problem fixed.

If, after checking the code, you get to know that the matter with your car is serious and costly, you can choose not to get it fixed. But let the potential buyer know about the faults in the car. And let them decide whether they are willing to purchase the vehicle and afford a visit to the mechanic or not.

However, if you only intend to get the light turned off long enough to sell the car, it might do you dirty. Not only is it obnoxious but problematic too. It could lead to an unhappy and skirmish outcome.

After all, no one would want to buy a car that abruptly stops in the middle of the road on the second day of purchase.

Therefore, getting your car repaired before selling is the best idea. It will not only save you a lot of embarrassment, but it might also net you a thousand more bucks on disposal.

Can I Sell My Car With The Check Light On?

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but no, you can’t. It is not legally permissible. You could be charged for fraud, and there is a high time chance of you serving a sentence for conducting an act of such nature.

Especially if you live in the USA, you would have to take your car through state inspection. And there is little to no chance of your passing through with the CEK on.

It will be an immediate fail. If the car crashes at state inspection within seven days of trade, you will have to reimburse or recondition the car.

Even if you decide to clear the light and the codes, it will necessitate a drive of a couple of miles and have a registry of several starts and stops in the vehicle’s computer history. The car swill stall in case of vaguely saved history.

And not having any history is an indication that you deliberately did something to conceal some problem. This could be another reason for your car not passing through the state inspection and it being confiscated unless unbosomed.

Is It A Good Idea?

Ethically, logically, and legally, it is a total flopperoo idea. Selling your car with the check engine light on means funny business.

And taking advantage of someone for the sake of a few hundred bucks even sounds scummy, let alone practice it. Therefore, refrain from doing so.


When selling your vehicle, be sure to have conducted a full and thorough inspection of it. In case of issues like the check engine light being on, visit a mechanic, get your car examined, and solve the issue.

And take the potential buyer in confidence regarding what issues your vehicle is facing.

However, if you don’t intend to fix the problem yourself, inform the to-be purchaser about it and offer freedom of choice. Also, don’t ask top dollar price for a vehicle, you know, has faults at the current time.

You will be solely responsible for any damage that appears within the first seven days of purchase. Enable your price to reflect the problems.

Whatever you do, be honest with the person you’re dealing with. It will yield its rewards and do you good in the long run. We hope you find the information, as mentioned earlier, to be of your use and benefit. Happy Trading!