Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!





Engine Warning Light - Serious or Not?

emory385emory385 Posts: 1
edited April 1 in Mazda
I posted this discussion because I just turned 16 and my dad bought me a 1995 Mazda 626. We test drove about 4 of them and they all had the problem of the engine warning light flashing on a random times. We asked the owners and even the Mazda dealership and they all said it was nothing and not to worry about it...but I am still worried. And then our trustworth mechanic said it was something about emissions, and in the state of NC the emissions standards aren't that strict so I shouldn't worry...does anyone have any thoughts? Thanks

Comments

  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872
    If it were me I would want it fixed, it could be someting as simple as an oxygen sensor. Som Mazdas came with a thing that turned the light on so you would take in in and they would check the emmisions and reset the light and it would stay out for like 30 k - 40 K miles.

    Try reposting your message on this board it is all about the Mazda 626.

    bnormann "Mazda 626 Troubles" Mar 24, 2000 5:25pm
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    If the dealer coulnd't find it I would tend to not worry much. I know some individuals in the check engine forum would disagree, but if it drives fine (no roughness, stalling, hesitation, etc) and everything feels and sounds okay I would not worry too much about it, especially after the dealer has looked at it.

    Can you imagine before the days of computers in cars, we all drove our vehicles till it stalled, or something was heard or felt. We had no other indications (eg- warning lights, except for oil light) that there was a problem, and we all managed to get it fixed when it actually broke down. When it broke, we then fixed it.....simple, and without worry! Sometimes it is best to fix it when the problem is obvious. You can spend more money looking for a problem. I had a hesitation problem and after giving up looking myself I asked the dealer, and he said how many hours are you going to give me at $70 per hour (Canada). He wanted 4 hours (easy money for doing nothing).You could spend more money looking then the part would cost once it "has failed". The problem is most sensors are in a harsh environement exposed to salt, water, etc. They might sometimes work and other times not, and you could be spendign more time being worried then enjoying the vehicle.

    The check engine light on a 92 Buick Regal my friend has always goes on at random when it feels like it. He actually taped it up, and some may argue against this, but it works for him. He drives it like it was a car from the old days (without the "nuisance light"). When it breaks he will then fix it, and not before, whether it costs a lot or a little to fix. He said he coulnd't be wasting his time at the garage and losing time off from work over a flickering light. He still has his car and has never had a major problem. I call it a nuisance light because that is what it is. It can be a help, but when even the dealer cannot find the problem, then it has become a nuisance and stressful for most people, actually playing on our safety needs (common in marketing).

    Perhaps you should another dealer for a second opinion, and if they both cannot find the problem, then don't worry. The check engine light is a real money maker in my book for the auto repair dealers. The light goes on....and we pay because we want that light off. I still believe in the long run it's cheaper to tape it up and pretend your car is from the 60's. Save your money for that real important problem that comes along.
  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    Then there is no reason that the problem can't be found.
    The reason that most people run into problems is because the mechanic that is working on the vehicle either doesn't understand the system or the mechanic doens't have the proper information.

    Here is how it is supposed to work.
    Check engine light comes on because of a problem,
    Basic checks should be made, then pull the codes.
    With the codes in hand, there are diagnostic flow charts to eliminate and test the system that the code comes up for. If the diagnostics is done properly, then the actual problem is not often missed. The problem are the mechanics who see the code for an O2 sensor and replce it,thinking it will solve the problem.

    Now,there are things that will illuminate the CEL and not be too harmful to the engine, but things like cam sensor,crank sensor, O2 sensor and such, that will eventually do some physical damage to the engine. If you have ever seen a melt down becausse of advanced timing or a severe lean condition, those are the types of things that are affected by the O2 sensor, EST, crank and cam position sensors. They give the input for the timing and fuel mixture.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,116
    I strongly agree---I would NOT under any circumstances ignore a CEL unless I knew for certain it was not a significant issue. Screwed up timing can punch a hole right through a piston.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    I agree with what you say Opatience, but unfortunately theory and reality seem to get into trouble.

    The problem emory385 has according to him is that the dealership was UNABLE to determine the problem the way I understand it. So they tell him don't worry about it.This is a very common problem. If they cannot determine the problem, what is the average consumer supposed to do....sell it? The best we can all do is get 2-3 opinions from dealers , and eventually give up (where else can you go). Perhaps they are right and it is not a problem (interesting that 4 other vehicles he test drove came up with the flashing lights). That shows me the frequency of this problem. When the dealer says he doesn't know, or don't worry about it....that to me says don't worry about it, and even if there is a problem you will just have to wait till something fails (like in the old pre computer days). Unfortunately mechanics cannot find everything, and we cannot for ever keep throwing hard earned money to find it. There has to be a point where we say "FORGET IT". It can be cheaper (not always) to wait till it shows further evidence of some malfunction, sometimes that is the only way....to WAIT and see until something is heard or felt.
  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    This isn't a theoretical design. It is a yes/no design. If the values are with in specific ranges, the light stays off, out of that range, the light comes on.
    There isn't any theory to it. The problem with some of these newer mechanics is they don't understand the system they are working on and rely to heavily on their computer stuff.
    If the light comes on, the ECM records a trouble code.If it isn't a hard code,they should be able to drive it til the light comes on and pull the code. Simple enough.

    Funny,I've never put a part in without knowing what the problem was.
    Every code and every sensor has a specific trouble shooting flow chart that will determine a definite yes or no as to whether a sensor or system is bad. There shouldn't be any guess work to it. It isn't rocket science, it is basic stuff.

    I still don't fully understand all systems, but there is no reason to throw parts at any vehicle without knowing what the problem is.
  • fritz1224fritz1224 Posts: 398
    I agree with you fully, but the problem is finding mechanics that are as experienced and knowledgeable as you(and as honest as well).
    It's not rocket science, but engineers designed these systems and they're right up there with scientists.
    What would you suggest in how to find people that know what they're doing when dealing with cars with OBD?
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    Maybe I should not have used the word THEORY. What I should have perhaps said is that WHAT IS versus WHAT SHOULD BE are two different things.
    I agree it is not rocket science, your just reading codes. THe problem is as Fritz put it in that there are not many perhaps as well trained. But if the dealer cannot help, and you see a second dealer like Emory has mentioned, then what are you to do. You have to be practical at some point and say it is not worth it, let the darn part fail is sometimes the only alternative left if no one can find it. Those codes could be coming up due to a poor connection, corrosion, etc. You cannot keep spending money trying to find the problem when it is cheaper to wait till the part fails.

    It would be interesting if it were possible to add a computerized system to my old 83 Tercel (just kidding here). I bet that light would be glowing hot due to all the parts aging, but the car keeps ticking. That is why I say if the light keeps flickering, and you have seen the dealers then there comes a time to ignore it. Sure it is possible that it is a major problem like the tranny, but usually it is not. I had read once that if you spent $20,000 on a new vehicle that it would cost an equal amount in repairs over the life of that vehicle. If that is the case, then a tranny represents only a small portion of that (even if it were fully overhauled). Most of the time and costs are elsewhere, most of your money will be spent correcting little problems. If the car runs fine, sounds fine, doesn't hesitate, and seems to be running as usual (except for the light), then sure go enquire from the dealer, but if he doesn't have an answer then DON'T WORRY.

    That check engine light creates stress for the customer, it is a great marketing tool to pack the dealers wallets. It is handy for the mechanic to find problems, but even more handy for the dealer owner.
  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    First thing you will need is an OBD2 scanner. (we are working on product reviews for OBD2 PC based scanners for laptops). Next you will need a digital volt/ohm meter (DVOM) and a test light.
    Once you have the OBD2 scanner, then you can subscribe to Alldata's DIY set up at http://www.alldatadiy.com/ for $20 a year, you get all the info for one vehicle, that the shops have.
    Ok, so now you have the scanner, the DVOM, testlight and the info.
    You pull the codes, Lets say for simplicity it is code P0130, which is an O2 sensor Circuit fault. Now with the codes in hand, you go to the information. You look up the engine performance info in emmissions and locate the P0130, there will be a wiring diagram and flow chart. The flow chart will ask the first question, like is the light on? If yes, go to step 2, if no go to no codes diagnostics.
    And it goes on from there, telling you which wires will have voltage or ohms and what the specific values should be. These are yes/no tests. Sounds simple huh? The problem arises when someone tries to take short cuts and thinks they are smarter than the flow charts.
  • wonderwallwonderwall Posts: 126
    the check engine light came on in my 97 jetta. mechanic found a hole in a vacuum hose. he replaced it for nothing (had it in to get belts replaced).
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    As Emory had requested, should he worry after the dealer says it's okay?

    So what do you do when the dealer says everything is okay? DO you:

    a) Trust them (which he obviously doesn't).
    b) Call them a liar (perhaps report them to mfr)
    c) Tell them you obviously don't care.
    d) Tell them the mechanics are lazy or no good.
    e) See 5 more dealerships for an opinion
    e) All of the above
    f) None of the above

    Where do you go when the dealer(s) tells you everything is okay and the light is still on and they have not fixed it. What good is it to tell the customer to get himself a scanner, subscribe to Alldata, and look up the codes himself. Excuse me, but most people have no interest in this, and half the customer base are women or elderly or just don't care or lack the skill to want to do it. Why do we have dealers and mechanics, to just steal our money? Their supposed to do the job right, and do it right the first time, and not send us on a wild goose chase (Most customers have taken time off work, the job should be taken care of the first time). Perhaps you are blinded by the number of people who leave dissatisfied from dealerships due to the same problem, perhaps you haven't really read what others have written in the last 400 or more articles over the last year on the check engine light. Do you not realize most have seen a mechanic and most are still up in the air with this check engine problem (and money was spent and the problem persists). Go ahead and play with your scanners, but don't go telling people to buy a scanner when the mechanic at the dealership with his own scanners has not found the problem (and the light stays persistantly on or flickers). Wake up and smell the roses! Be honest and at least tell the person to come back when he starts noticing an apparant problem. You can't keep spending money just to turn off a light.

    What is more interesting is that bearings as well as many other components (more then 50% of the vehicle has no sensors attached to it) offer us no indication of a problem. We drive and don't worry about our shocks or bearings, but we worry only about the ones that trigger the light to turn on. Seems unfare that we worry so much about one thing and not another. Maybe we should worry less about the light on and more about a bearing or tie rod ready to fail. No indication of a problem here by the computer, and much more deadly on the road.

    Before the days of computers we fixed what was apparent, why should we not still use this approach? If the dealer cannot find the problem even though the light stays on, then I say drive it untill the problem IS apparent. What else can you do, perhaps it is only a poor connection, perhaps the problem is indeed big. But we took our chances in the old days, and I still believe we must take some chances today....the computer does not yet have a sensor on every bolt, screw, bearing, valve, shock, etc. Reading the codes usually works and when it does it is great, but when it doesn't work for us we can't be left to worrying and feeling stressed out to the point you want to perhaps sell the vehicle.

    Your right about one thing though...it is simple enough to read the codes and flow charts. Perhaps even a trained monkey can do it, but why then are we all stuck asking the same question about a light that no one (even the dealer) sometimes cannot turn off. What do you tell those customers, I sure would like to know, especially after they likely spent a good deal of money.

    It is interesting that over half the parts on a vehicle has no sensors to signal the computer of a problem, yet as long as the light stays off we all feel the vehicle is in a good state of repair. Well, not true....your ball joints could be bad, bearings,tie rods, shocks, and many more components could be worn, and therefore the vehicle is neither reliable or even safe. It's funny we worry about the ones that light up and not about the rest of them that don't.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    "Be honest and at least tell the person to come back when he starts noticing an apparant problem."

    This quote from 2 topics up:
    "I remember a neighbor whose wife drove an Olds 98. Apparently the Check Engine light was on but she never said anything. Gas mileage was dropping steadily. He didn't notice until the car failed an emissions test. He took it to an excellent repair shop and found the EGR sensor defective. But the inspection led to a whole bunch of problems. Bad O2 sensor, bad MAP sensor, defective catalytic converter. What started as a $75 repair cost him $800. The failed EGR sensor gave wrong info to the OBD computer and that started a chain reaction."

    I've encountered this scenario dozens of times. It's usually accompanied by much wailing and wringing of hands, and directly attributable to bad advice to ignore the CEL.

    "Before the days of computers we fixed what was apparent, why should we not still use this approach?"
    Because before the days of computers there were no EPA mandated CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) requirements, no Clean Air Act, little concern for the depletion of non-renewable fossil fuel sources, and precious little concern for the quality of our enviroment.

    "It is interesting that over half the parts on a vehicle has no sensors to signal the computer of a problem, yet as long as the light stays off we all feel the vehicle is in a good state of repair."
    It's also interesting that none of the non-monitored parts will contribute to excessive emissions or cause driveability concerns. And if individuals choose not to have their vehicles serviced and inspected at regular intervals to verify proper, safe operation, that's their perogative.

    There is ALWAYS a reason for a CEL to come on, and the reason can ALWAYS be determined. Might be a driveability concern, probably an emission related concern, potentially an eventual very expensive repair concern.

    "You can't keep spending money just to turn off a light."
    The appropriate response would be "Find a repair facility with skilled techs using up to date equipment to locate and correct the cause of the fault." This isn't the 1960's and we're not dealing with the crude engines produced then.

    If xfiles chooses to ignore a CEL on his own vehicle, that's his right even though he's probably driving a gross polluter. To suggest that others do the same is reckless and irresponsible. It indicates a lack of knowledge of the integration of electronics in the vehicle/powertrain package, required to provide acceptable performance while reducing harmful emission production from fossil fuels.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,116
    California clean air standards were put into effect as early as 1966, with a requirement for a PCV system. The phenomenon of SMOG was identified as early as the 1950s.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    .....followed by EGR valves in 1973, electronic ignition in 1974, feedback carburetors, Chrysler's Lean Burn System, Digital Fuel Injection, TIB, Port Injection, heated O2 sensors, OBD-II, etc, etc, etc, and MUCH tougher emission standards as EPA requirements became more stringent, and technology became available to reduce tailpipe emissions. My point still stands, as does that of Opatience. The CEL comes on for a reason. Any good tech with a scan tool and the appropriate diagnostic reference data should be able to correct it.
  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    I spend alot of time trying to help these folks out. I do not need someone trying to make a big deal out of things. If you want to offer them advice on how to repair there vehicle, do so.
    What good is it to tell the customer to get himself a scanner, subscribe to Alldata, and look up the codes himself.and half the customer base are women or elderly

    Wow,that is interesting to know,someone better let all the folks,who do their own work with help from some really good mechanics,know that.


    Perhaps you are blinded by the number of people who leave dissatisfied from dealerships due to the same problem, perhaps you haven't really read what others have written in the last 400 or more articles over the last year on the check engine light. Do you not realize most have seen a mechanic and most are still up in the air with this check engine problem.

    I am fully aware of that. Have you seen this page? Just who do you think made up and provides that page???


    Go ahead and play with your scanners, but don't go telling people to buy a scanner when the mechanic at the dealership with his own scanners has not found the problem (and the light stays persistantly on or flickers).

    The scanner is a diagnostic tool, like any other diagnostic tool. Used properly, it will find the problem. In this day and age, it is a necessary tool. I suppose you look for electrical problems without a test light or voltmeter too??


    Look, you may have some hang up about the CEL, but telling someone to ignore the light is not doing them any good. If the light is on, there is something not working right and it will eventually cost them to repair the problem and it may even cost more to leave it and ignore it.


    "Before the days of computers we fixed what was apparent, why should we not still use this approach?"

    Who is we??

    The difference between then and now, is that most systems were easily checked and a mechanic could physically see what most problems were. Now, those problems are not clearly visible.

  • fritz1224fritz1224 Posts: 398
    He has an inferiority complex and can't deal with it. Don't worry about it. You are a great asset to these boards and please keep posting.
This discussion has been closed.