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Check Engine light



  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    Transmission fluid, level or dirty, (if you're lucky).

    Something more serious with the transmission if you're not.
  • I have a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid...haven't had any major problems with it until the last 6 months or so. Every now & then a warning light would display indicating a fault with the hybrid drive system. It was intermittent, and since the closest hybrid-certified dealer is 45 minutes away, I didn't immediately take it in (since the light was intermittent & there was no noticeable affect on the vehicle function).

    A couple months ago, I was travelling & the hybrid drive warning light came on - I would be passing by the dealer, so I called to see if I could stop in & have them read the code. They read it & said that it was a possible problem with the CVT drive, but since it was intermittent, wondered if it was just a sensor problem. They already had two other FEH's in the shop waiting on parts, so they didn't want to schedule anything immediately.

    Fast forward to mid-January. The hybrid drive warning light had intermittently come on & gone off for the last couple months, but this time, while I was driving (city stop & go) around town, the hybrid drive warning light came on, shortly followed by an alternating complete loss of power to a surge in acceleration. I tried to hobble the vehicle back to my office (this is a work vehicle), and the "Master Vehicle Electrical Hazard Warning" light came on, followed by my vehicle completely shutting down.

    The vehicle was towed to the dealer, they checked the codes & replaced the throttle body & reprogrammed the PCM; called me & told me it was ready to pick up. I arranged for a ride down & before I left the parking lot, it was doing THE EXACT SAME THING! Now the dealer is telling me that they need to replace the Shifter Lever Assembly, based on the "new" trouble code (which they charged me $75 for).

    The dealer claims that the only code they initially found (when it was towed to them) was one indicating the throttle body problem. They claim no other codes were present. Now the code is for the shift lever assembly. Same symptoms, two completely different root causes?

    On to the question: How long does computer hold error codes? I have a hard time believing that they didn't pick up the "old" CVT error code when they were initially assessing the code that led them to replacing the throttle body. I have expressed my extreme dissatisfaction with the service manager, but he stands by his claim that: "the only code present was the throttle body code". Am I being screwed?

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    On to the question: How long does computer hold error codes?

    That "depends" on what code is setting, and the frequency of the failure events can play a role. Most codes will self clear from the long term memory after fifty re-starts if the problem doesn't occur again. Some codes never clear until they are commanded to. The real fun starts when some tests that would generate another code are blocked from running because of a code already in the system memory.

    I have a hard time believing that they didn't pick up the "old" CVT error code when they were initially assessing the code that led them to replacing the throttle body

    While it may not seem likely at first, another possible explanation explanation may have to do with the re-flash. There could be a criteria change for the shifter code generation and that may have gotten it to set easier. The throttle body problem is a common issue and yes, the car acts exactly as you described. Then again with the random failure, the code for the shifter may have self cleared.

    I have expressed my extreme dissatisfaction with the service manager, but he stands by his claim that: "the only code present was the throttle body code". Am I being screwed

    Probably not, but by now the tech is. When we diagnose a vehicle and the data and trouble codes only reveal one problem,( in this case the throttle body). And then for the period of time that the tech has the car, it gives him/her no other symptoms, what would any reasonable person do? Why they would fix what they found wrong, and STOP. Imagine the tech saying something like "The shifters cause a similar symptom, so I should just replace it right now too."

    It's a pretty safe bet you'd be thinking that would be a rip-off, right?

    When I work with any of these cars, I pull all of the codes from every computer on the car with the push of a single button. Then I open paint and paste the screen shot and store it in a folder under the customers name. While not every tech does this, I do it because these kinds of questions have arisen in the past, and when I can pull the screen shot up I have proof of exactly what was there when I started.

    I often talk about consumers having a car that has a problem, but its not real bad so they keep driving it. Then a second problem occurs and it still isn't bad enough to get them to fix it. And then there is a third, and a fourth etc until one day when the car is so bad that they don't have a choice so they finally bring the car into a shop. The question now becomes, which problem is the one that got the car into the shop? How likely is the customer to be satisfied with the repair attempt if all of the problems are not found and solved? (in some cases, the customer doesn't even want all of the problems solved, that usually ends badly too when they come back with it still doing "the same thing") There are many times that the tech has to cut down some of the trees to see the forest.
  • It could be that your car has multiple problems and the mechanic was only able to diagnose (codes provided) and fix few of the issues. Check light will turn off. After awhile, your computer will recheck the car again, then the light will turn back on.

    The computer is constantly rechecking the car.
  • jprocjproc Posts: 133
    For the past month or so my check engine light will come on and in a few days go off.Then in a week or so come on again etc.
    This has happened 3-4 times now.Has this happened to anyone else and I am guessing that it is not as significant as a constantly on check engine light.
    This is for an 2000 Sienna XLE.Anyone have any experience or thoughts on this?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,421
    I'm going to take a guess here that you may have an intermittent misfire which only occurs under certain load/speed conditions.

    It would be interesting for you to log when the light goes on--that is, what are you and your car doing at the time?

    Probably you'd want to have the computer scanned anyway---if this is a misfire, it's going to get worse over time I'd guess.


  • Has anyone had a problem with a 99 Rodeo 6cyl. My daughter drove it to school, then it wouldn't start, tried to jump it, absolutely no power. I replace the Battery, all the bells and whistle turned on, as soon as I tried to start the vehicle I lost everything and the Vehicle had no power. I mean nothing, even with a new battery.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,421
    Couple of possibilities:

    Bad battery right off the shelf (not charged up)

    Shift lever not actually in Park or Neutral

    Neutral safety switch is defective (switch that prevents a car from starting in Drive)

    Bad battery cables, from positive to starter motor, or negative to ground

    Bad starter motor or starter motor relay


  • wingrootwingroot Posts: 43
    Just had a call from my Chevy dealer that I can come in and order a 2014 Nox. Any other info. on this topic?
  • jprocjproc Posts: 133
    As a follow up to my recent post-last 3 times I got gas the next day the check engine light came on stayed on for 2-3 days went out and came back on next fill up etc. Assuming I am tightening the gas cap tight enough any ideas on what the devil I going on?
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    For some more detailed information on what other things can cause the same CEL to come on as a loose fitting gas cap, look at messages 664-667 in the "A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood" forum.

    thecardoc3, "A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood" #664, 12 Dec 2012 8:13 am#MSG663
  • jprocjproc Posts: 133
    Much Thanks!
  • fendlayfendlay Posts: 3
    I am having a serious problem with my 04 isuzu axiom and I have replaced the fuel pump in the parking lot of autozone all day today. I also changed the fuel filter and check the spark plugs. I checked all the fuses under the hood and they are all good to go. I had talked to a few people and they said it might be a spark plug coil. I do not know and probably don't have the tool to check a coil. The car cranks and doesn't start. If anybody has any ideas. Believe me it will be appreciated. I'm about done with this car today. Tomorrow is another day. Any suggestions?
  • fendlayfendlay Posts: 3
    check engine light has been on for awhile. It used to go off from time to time. Also got lucky passing emissions because the engine light went off while I was driving to emission station. Then I knew it would pass as long as that light stayed the hell off. It stayed off till the next day. Now it's been on for the past couple months. I change the oil regularly. I have replaced three alternator's in this vehicle so far. I bought it at 80,000 miles. I now have 124000 roughtly. I had to replace a battery as well as a fuel injector. And now this unusual problem. Before all this happened, I got into an accident. Somebody hit me from behind at roughly about...35 mph. Moving forward I'm back to square one and now don't know where to start. oh, I went and tried to replace all the spark plugs and when I got them from the auto part store they did not fit my car and the employee searched by year, make, and model. Could it possibly be that the engine has been replaced with a different model or something?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,421
    Tell us the year, make, model and engine size and we'll post the correct spark plug for your engine.


  • fendlayfendlay Posts: 3
    2004 isuzu axiom, 3.5Liter V6
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,421 the orchestra on the Titanic strikes up "Nearer My God To Thee".......

    The author wonders if GM execs don't know or don't care and the answer is....both.


  • brian125brian125 New york / S.C. myrtle beachPosts: 2,427
    Try changing the gas cap. sometimes older cars have a cap problem and it sets off the sensor

    2013 Genesis 5.0 R-spec, 2013 Accord EXL V-6, 2012 BMW x-5, 2012 ML350

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,054
    You can do some sleuthing as to the origin of the light or you can take it to a box store that does free code checking to see what code is showing that's turning the light on. Don't buy anything based on the code, just report it and let some folks try to help narrow it down.

    The items besides the gas cap leaking that can cause codes are the purge valve and the vent valve along with some rubber tubing that carries the vacuum to the tank to do emissions checks.

    The rubber parts deteriorate and crack causing a leak of the vacuum setting off certain codes. Heat above the engine aggravates the aging.

    The purge valve may not be turning on to send vacuum to the charcoal cannister to let air flow through to remove gas vapors caught in it.

    The vent valve may not be closing for the times when the emissions check verifies that there are no leaks in the tank, cap, tubing, etc., to allow the gas fumes to vent to atmosphere instead of being forced throught the charcoal canister where they will be caught by the carbon granules.

    There also is a pressure sensor on top of the tank that measures the vacuum drawn on the tank/system by the purge valve and how quickly that vacuum deteriorates (measuring the leakage of air into the system).

    Also note the relationship to the volume of fuel in the tank. The typical GM algorithm is to only run the leak tests when tank is between 15% and 80% or so in gasoline. Also the engine needs to be luke warm--not cold and not full normal temp. Try keeping your tank between 1/4 and 3/4 for a couple of weeks and lots of key starts. See if the light goes off because the system is able to correctly do several leak checks. The computer has to do a certain number of good tests before it will turn off the light.

    Good luck.
  • jprocjproc Posts: 133
    thx-it turned out to be an air fuel sensor-spent close to $600 to get it replaced at a Toyota dealership.Hoping to get a few more years out of my 14 year old Sienna with 200k on the clock. Gotta admit though this car is getting expensive to keep on the road
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