It seems like a basic question: Can you trade in a car with check engine light on? The short answer is yes. Dealerships are well aware that the check engine light often comes on due to something minor, and it doesn't automatically mean there's major car trouble.
But despite the straightforward answer, there are plenty of reasons why you might not want to trade in a car with check engine light on. It can affect your trade-in value, even if the problem is minor. And it's also good to know what to expect at the dealership when you're trading in a vehicle that has a check engine light illuminated, just so you don't get taken advantage of.
The biggest thing to worry about if you're trading in a car with check engine light on is how much money dealerships will offer for it. If your car has gone through an inspection and been found to have an issue costing $1,000 or more, that could knock as much as $3,000 off your car's trade-in value, according to Edmunds data from 2017. That's because dealers know they'll have to spend that much money fixing it before reselling it, which means they'll offer less for the car than if it were