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Can You Drive With The Powertrain Light On?

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The powertrain plays a massive part in the function of your vehicle. However, can you continue to drive with the powertrain light on? We have researched to help you with this question in this article.

If your powertrain light is a warning sign, something is severely wrong with your vehicle. The only time you should drive with the powertrain light on is to get to a safe location to seek immediate repairs. The best solution is to call a mechanic and have a tow truck take your vehicle to a mechanic for an inspection.

If your powertrain light is on then, it shouldn't be taken lightly. This article will discuss what could cause your powertrain light to come on and why it needs to be taken seriously. In addition, we will answer other frequently asked questions, so read on!

Oil and engine problem indicator turned on due to engine malfunction, Can You Drive With The Powertrain Light On?

Can You Drive With The Powertrain Light On?

The powertrain is the system in a vehicle that generates power. This includes the engine, transmission, and drive axle. If the powertrain light comes on, your vehicle tells you that something isn't right. In addition, your vehicle might have trouble staying running, so driving with the powertrain light on should be avoided at all costs.

If your car's powertrain light is on, it means the vehicle has detected a fault and has disabled some of its functions. This can be due to lack of oil, overheating, or even low fuel levels.

However, despite this safety feature, many people still choose to drive their cars with the powertrain light on as they may think that it will protect the car until they can have it repaired.

A check engine light on due to powertrain problem

Even though this may be true, many still think that if you continue to drive with the powertrain light on, it might cause even more damage to your engine or other parts of your car.

Therefore, some feel it's best not to drive at all and call a mechanic to come and tow your vehicle to a mechanic instead. The reason being is that driving with these issues can cause severe damage to other parts of your car over time. Furthermore, if your engine overheats, then this can cause your car's engine to crack or even explode.

If the powertrain light appears when you are coasting into your driveway or garage, then it should be okay to drive if you need to. However, if the powertrain light pops up while driving down any other road, you should pull over at the nearest safe place and have your car towed.

What Causes the Powertrain Light to Come On?

The powertrain light can also come on if something is wrong with a sensor. This could be due to a loose wire, which you would need to have replaced by a mechanic. If you continue to drive with this issue, it may cause more damage, such as your catalytic converter not working correctly and therefore spending more money on repairs.

Although, powertrain lights can come on if there is an electrical problem, for example, a faulty ignition switch or a loose battery terminal. In addition, when the powertrain light is lit, that means that something is wrong with your transmission or engine system.

Therefore, if you continue to drive with this light on, you risk destroying other parts of your engine system. Furthermore, many people ignore this warning light once it's illuminated as they think that not driving the car for a while would fix the problem.

What Happens When Your Powertrain Light Comes On?

First and foremost, when your powertrain light comes on, this doesn't necessarily mean that the whole powertrain system is in need of repair.

It's just a warning sign to let you know that something isn't working properly, and therefore there might be problems with other parts in the engine or your automatic transmission. Therefore, if the issue is small enough, perhaps you could get away with not spending money on repairs.

However, if your car is no longer drivable, you should do a few things. Firstly, pull over into a safe place and turn your engine off immediately. This is to avoid overheating or significant damage to the other parts of the engine system.

Furthermore, if you have a coolant leak that you can't fix yourself, you should also turn your engine off as soon as possible.

In addition, you should never attempt to drive your car with the powertrain light on if it's flashing because this could indicate an electrical problem. The best thing would be to have a mechanic check out the issue as soon as possible.

What Does a Powertrain Light Look Like?

The powertrain light is a yellow or red warning light and will be located somewhere on your dashboard. The symbol usually looks like an engine, and it could say "check" underneath the symbol.

However, some vehicles have more than one powertrain light. So, you may need to check which one of these lights is illuminated as this will mean that there is an issue with the engine or transmission system.

You should always check your owner's manual as each manufacturer has a different location for this light, and also, each powertrain system is slightly different.

Powertrain problem light on showing on the car dashboard

How Serious is a Powertrain Malfunction?

A powertrain malfunction is serious as this means that there is a problem with either your engine or transmission system. Furthermore, as soon as the powertrain light comes on, you should take it to a professional for inspection as soon as possible.

The powertrain is crucial for distributing power from your engine to other parts of the vehicle. If it malfunctions, then you could find yourself in a dangerous situation. The reason being is that it will cause important mechanical components to overheat. 

In addition, the powertrain light generally comes on when there is a minor issue, and if you turn your engine off and allow it to cool down for a while, this usually fixes the problem.

So, you may be able to save yourself some money by turning your engine off and waiting half an hour or so before continuing to drive. However, if the powertrain light comes on and stays on, this could mean something more seriously wrong with your automatic transmission or engine system.

Either way, if the vehicle isn't driving right, such as surging, sputtering, or lacking power, it's best to get it into a certified mechanic for a diagnosis.

How Do you Reset a Powertrain Light?

If your vehicle isn't showing any signs of surging, sputtering, or lack of power, it could be due to a bad sensor causing the powertrain light to come on. Sometimes, the powertrain light won't turn off even if the sensor is replaced. However, there is a way you can reset the powertrain light yourself.

To do this, unplug your battery cables and wait 30 seconds to a minute. Next, put the battery cables back on and ensure they are secure. This will reset your computer and turn off the powertrain light most of the time.

Another way to reset the powertrain light is by using an OBD2 vehicle scanner. These scanners will display the codes that your vehicle is throwing. You can manually clear the codes using the scanner.

Autopart stores like O'Reilly or Autozone will let you use their vehicle scanners for free. Just make sure you only use the "scan" option on the scanner. The "reset" or "erase" options will reset all of your vehicle's computerized systems and may cause more harm than good.

If you don't have a scanner available, you can check your owner's manual to see if there is an online resource for clearing the codes for your vehicle specifically. For example, if you have a GM vehicle, you can go to the GM website and put in your VIN.

You should find a manual specific to your car or truck that tells you how to reset your powertrain light manually. However, it may be easier to take your vehicle into auto parts or automotive repair shop in some cases.

If you're not comfortable doing this yourself, ask someone you know who is more experienced to help you out if necessary.

Final Thoughts

Oil and engine problem indicator turned on due to engine malfunction, Can You Drive With The Powertrain Light On?

If the powertrain light comes on, don't ignore it. From simple issues like a sensor malfunctioning to more serious ones such as an engine problem or transmission failure, seek assistance from your mechanic so they can determine what is wrong.

The worst thing you can do is let the issue go unchecked because this could lead to further damage to your vehicle, which will cost you more money in the long run.

If you liked this article, then check out our other vehicle maintenance guide articles:

Does Coolant Level Drop When Engine Is Hot?

Can You Add Coolant When Car Engine Is Hot?

How To Defog Your Windshield Without Using The Heater