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Check Engine light

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Comments

  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    We must remember that in the old days we didn't have sensors in our component parts(eg-brake pads) or a "check engine feature". So we drove our cars and never worried about our vehicles until there was a noise, rough idle, bad ride/steering, the brakes squeal,, something is leaking, or the car stopped. Those were the days when mechanics knew how to analyze problems(Diagnostics)...the hardest thing to do, and replacing the part was the easy part of the job. Well, with the introduction of the "check engine" feature this was supposed to make it easier for the mechanic to diagnose a problem, and to increase profits for shops due to time saved diagnosing. Unfortunately, these sensors live in a harsh environment under our engine hood and wheel wells (mud, salt, water spray, cold, heat)....and soon they begin to fail, so the light comes on and we get all excited....then the light becomes intermittent and it drives us nuts. All were experiencing is sensors getting dirty (CORROSION), it does not mean the part is bad, it could even be the product is slightly out of specification from use (but not worn out...perfectly normal). I heard a woman complaining to Toyota that her car is a lemon over a simple check engine light. We react it seems to "check engine" lights as we do to a police light flashing behind us....we get all upset for no reason.

    MY SOLUTION: Put electrical tape over the "check engine" indicator and STOP WORRYING. Your car will not fall apart, it will not be damaged, all parts are replaceable (alternators, starters, radiators, etc). Once that "check engine" indicator is out of sight, you will be back to a calm lifestyle and behaving like you use to in the old days (you will start loving your car again...and remember, they are more reliable over the past). All this feature has done is prove to be unreliable, and shops are profiting by replacing one part after another just in hopes the dang light goes off (and you pay, some owners even sell their vehicle from being upset). This feature has also caused many mechanics to rely on their code scanners, and unfortunately their losing the art of diagnosing (usually means listening for noise, looking for leaks, checking compression for signs of a healthy engine). They rely on the code, replace your part, and take your money....and show you the code print out to convince you their not ripping you off. Then they take the old part and usually install it in their own vehicle....that happens a lot...and their perfectly happy.
    The point is if it's not broken, don't fix it. Forget about this check engine feature and repair only when you have a definite problem you can feel as you drive.

    My friend has a 92 Buick Regal, his check engine started acting up within 6 months, and it never ended...it was intermittent and would be off whenever he shows up to the dealer most of the time....a total waste of time when he should be at work. Well, he thought he had a bad vehicle , he placed black tape over the check engine indicator and never looked at it since, the vehicle has been extremely reliable, and consumer reports has rated it highly. He pulled the sticker back and saw the light ON....he then taped it down again and did nothing. His own words....... "its a bunch of [non-permissible content removed], the car wears as you drive it, as the car gets older all the parts will have worn, to keep the light off you would have to rebuild the whole car to keep that light off...... it's a handly tool (if not corroded) when you cannot diagnose a problem the old fashion way, but don't let it rule you or tell you when you must do repairs, use it only as an aid and remembering even the codes are not reliable (how can they be if the sensor is covered in mud).
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    POst that at this forum and see what happens.I dare you.It is a bunch of professional mechanics.If you think you are right and I am wrong,post what you posted here and see what you get.The web address is
    http://forum.onecenter.com/bat
    I can't wait to see what you say there.
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    ... for a "language" problem.

    It's such a classic example of urban mythology that I think it deserves a thorough rebuttal of the type 0patience has started.

    Your host, Bruce.
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    ...about your username, 0patience.

    I think I have a clue now. {8^D

    Bruce
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    But sometimes,some people think they know all the answers and have no idea of what they are talking about.I am a mechanic,it is what I know how to do and I really like helping people out,so much,that I have various sites I frequent,and I have found out that I'm not alone in this field.Contrary to popular belief,there are many of us that are on the web.ZeroPatience is a name that my wife thought fit me best.Again,if I was out of line,I apologize to the site,it's moderators(who do a great job) and the regulars to this site.
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    I was rather surprised by Opatience comments, but not totally surprised. It is his profession, and what I had to say is somewhat distasteful to his profession. However, my message was aimed at the consumer, not the professional.

    First, I agree there is a language error. After reading it, I noticed it is rather difficult to interpret. When I used the term CHECK ENGINE FEATURE, I was referring to the entire system, not to the CHECK ENGINE" LIGHT". I guess to spell it out .... check engine light means go check the codes, which means go check the computer. I agree that the light is only an indication that there is a problem. By saying it is a tool, I was referring to the entire system making life easier for everyone (although not always giving us what we want). It is a tool because it is designed to help...tools do that!

    Second, I do not know all the answers, neither does Opatience nor anyone else. If we view the previous responses, it is apparent that even dealers send customers home without a solution all the time.

    Third, my intention was to simply tell people not to get all upset about their check engine "light" on the dashboard going on. Many people get upset, frustrated that the car may be a lemon, and looking at a flickering light at night can get dangerous. My belief is if the car runs fine, sounds fine, there are no indications of any problem, then disregard that light. If there truly is a problem, then sooner or later you will start hearing, seeing, feeling the problem as it worsens. Sometimes, its just better to wait till your sure. I did not say that a car (or a computer will run on 1/3 of the system down...Opatience !) If you read it again, I said if the car runs fine, leave it alone...the light does not always mean there is a problem.

    Fourth, I did not pretend I know all the answers, nor am I lacking knowledge on this subject as you may think. I am not a mechanic, I am a professional in Marketing Management, but one of my hobbies is auto repairs. I have done full restorations starting from the frame to complete re-assembly of the vehicle, and also overhaul all major components. In fact there is nothing I haven't done...including complete body work and full restoration of all upholstery (trained by a friend....builder of limousines and race cars). I doubt many mechanics are knowledgeable about this area (upholstery). I am sure there are few things you or I both don't know and need answers too. Were all learning, not just here to brag, better our self-image, be top dog, etc.

    Fifth, I came here not to argue, I to enjoy helping people as Opatience does. People make mistakes in wording (I'm and example...I was in a rush). However, the essence of the email seems to stand on its own, no one argued about the issues discussed (eg- is placing tape over the light a good idea or not).

    Sixth, as a marketer I would like to point out a secondary purpose for that idiot light on our dashboard. It is there not only to warn of a problem, but also to create the sense of urgency/fear....to go after our need for safety (a basic urge under Maslows Need Hierarchy theory...for all sociology/psch majors). It is beneficial in generating extra business for manufacturers and dealers (service depts). I would like to see the industry do something about that annoying light.

    I came here to read peoples opinions regarding reliability of different vans. If it is this much trouble to contribute, and I must spend the time to proofread and correct every little error I may make...then my answer is "it isn't worth it".
    This isn't a board meeting, if people make grammatical or other errors...just accept it, and don't insult them.

    Xfiles
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    Just remember that we earn money in gross dollars, yet we spend in net dollars (after taxes, living expenses, etc). Whenever we pay $60 an hour to have our vehicles serviced, we paid that in net dollars. Putting it in perspective, we had to earn likely $200 (gross dollars) before we have $60 (in net dollars) to pay for the work. So Mr, Moderator....you say what I wrote is a MYTH..... well then let the consumer decide and do not hide articles people write in good faith.

    It is from that perspective that I try to tell people to stop running to the mechanics each time the check engine idiot light goes on. If it everything feels fine, leave it alone. If there is a "real" problem you will soon know as the part continues to worsen. It boils down to some people might prefer my suggestion, and others would rather follow by the rules.....some of us have a different approach to spending our money.

    I bet mechanics will throw a fit when I say this, but I am here to save us money, not to make you guys money.

    This is a public forum to discuss all sides of the issue. Since no one had complained in here, that article (#102) should not have been hidden. Seems Opatience asks you to jump, and you right away ask "how high". That article was was about saving people aggravation and some money.

    The comments by the moderator were uncalled for, in my opinion my harsh words are justified. If you want to dish it out, then maybe you need a little back.

    Xfiles
  • pat455pat455 Posts: 603
    The ONLY thing that was meant by "language problem" was your single use of a profane term that is not allowed in Town Hall posts. Usually posts using that term, or any other profanity, are deleted, but Bruce merely hid yours because, I think, a good discussion was ensuing.

    Why don't you click here to review your User's Agreement and maybe you will understand better.

    My tongue-in-cheek post following Bruce's may have contributed to your misundertandings, so I'm going to go back and delete it.

    Your posts are welcome here, as long as you abide by the User Agreement.

    Pat
    Community Leader/Maintenance & Repair Conference
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    Here's x-files original post in plain sight, WITHOUT the "language problem". There is no conspiracy here folks...

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    We must remember that in the old days we didn't
    have sensors in our component parts(eg-brake pads)
    or a "check engine feature". So we drove our cars
    and never worried about our vehicles until there
    was a noise, rough idle, bad ride/steering, the
    brakes squeal,, something is leaking, or the car
    stopped. Those were the days when mechanics knew
    how to analyze problems(Diagnostics)...the hardest
    thing to do, and replacing the part was the easy
    part of the job. Well, with the introduction of the
    "check engine" feature this was supposed to make
    it easier for the mechanic to diagnose a problem,
    and to increase profits for shops due to time saved
    diagnosing. Unfortunately, these sensors live in a
    harsh environment under our engine hood and wheel
    wells (mud, salt, water spray, cold, heat)....and
    soon they begin to fail, so the light comes on and
    we get all excited....then the light becomes
    intermittent and it drives us nuts. All were
    experiencing is sensors getting dirty (CORROSION),
    it does not mean the part is bad, it could even be
    the product is slightly out of specification from
    use (but not worn out...perfectly normal). I heard
    a woman complaining to Toyota that her car is a
    lemon over a simple check engine light. We react it
    seems to "check engine" lights as we do to a
    police light flashing behind us....we get all upset
    for no reason.

    MY SOLUTION: Put electrical tape over the "check
    engine" indicator and STOP WORRYING. Your car will
    not fall apart, it will not be damaged, all parts
    are replaceable (alternators, starters, radiators,
    etc). Once that "check engine" indicator is out of
    sight, you will be back to a calm lifestyle and
    behaving like you use to in the old days (you will
    start loving your car again...and remember, they
    are more reliable over the past). All this feature
    has done is prove to be unreliable, and shops are
    profiting by replacing one part after another just
    in hopes the dang light goes off (and you pay, some
    owners even sell their vehicle from being upset).
    This feature has also caused many mechanics to
    rely on their code scanners, and unfortunately
    their losing the art of diagnosing (usually means
    listening for noise, looking for leaks, checking
    compression for signs of a healthy engine). They
    rely on the code, replace your part, and take your
    money....and show you the code print out to
    convince you their not ripping you off. Then they
    take the old part and usually install it in their
    own vehicle....that happens a lot...and their
    perfectly happy.
    The point is if it's not broken, don't fix it.
    Forget about this check engine feature and repair
    only when you have a definite problem you can feel
    as you drive.

    My friend has a 92 Buick Regal, his check engine
    started acting up within 6 months, and it never
    ended...it was intermittent and would be off
    whenever he shows up to the dealer most of the
    time....a total waste of time when he should be at
    work. Well, he thought he had a bad vehicle , he
    placed black tape over the check engine indicator
    and never looked at it since, the vehicle has been
    extremely reliable, and consumer reports has rated
    it highly. He pulled the sticker back and saw the
    light ON....he then taped it down again and did
    nothing. His own words....... "its a bunch of
    ********, the car wears as you drive it, as the car
    gets older all the parts will have worn, to keep
    the light off you would have to rebuild the whole
    car to keep that light off...... it's a handly tool
    (if not corroded) when you cannot diagnose a
    problem the old fashion way, but don't let it rule
    you or tell you when you must do repairs, use it
    only as an aid and remembering even the codes are
    not reliable (how can they be if the sensor is
    covered in mud).

    Your host, Bruce
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    Telling people not to worry about the check engine light is not really a good idea.Understand that the light indicateds a problem with more than just the engine systems,it also moniters the trans system and ignoring the light without having some general idea of why it is on,could cause major damage.Would you like to pay for somebodies transmission,cause their check engine light came on and they took your advice and ignored it and did major damage to their transmission,instead of paying $100 for a torque converter selenoid,now they have to pay $2800 for a transmission.Because some joker told them not to worry about their check engine light.If you really understood the systems on a vehicle and how they work,you would understand.I am responsible for machines that cost $100,000 and have computers that cost $5,000+ that moniter their systems,and if the warning lights come on,then the operator had better find out why it is on,otherwise it can cost in excess of $10,000 to repair it.
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    Saying that would I like to pay for someones transmission because the light went on (and I taped it over) has several flaws. Your behaving from a mechanics point of view....try to induce fear, and make some money for the dealer (also there may be liability issues involved for you) However, I am talking about the consumer and his own choice to choose what to do (use tape or not). It is not for you as a mechanic to tell them , let them decide (then your off the hook). So its a perspective thing I feel. There is merit from both perspectives...but which way is best for the customer, we know which way is best for the dealer.

    My reasons to not worry about the light:
    1. How did we ever survive before we had
    a computer system and engine codes, no
    check engine light. For critical systems, like
    brakes or oil loss we have always had a red
    little idiot light to warn us. Not perfect, but
    it helped....and rarely did it give false error
    messages.
    2. We have to accept some risks. To date I am
    not aware of a sensor to let us know when
    our timing belt will fail, or our fan belt, and a
    host of other things. It is called regular
    maintenance to keep us out of trouble. Also,
    even with the systems now, we still get
    catastrophic failures. My friends crankshaft,
    on his Jeep cherokee failed (1997 model with
    71,000 miles)...he needed another motor (used and installed was $3100). Whats surprising is the front failed rather
    then at the back where most of
    the stress is. This should not have happened,
    but it did. I should of won the lottery, but
    I didn't.....things happen...we win some and we lose some! I could replace the entire
    engine with a rebuilt (or tranny) on an
    automobile (this is a car forum...not truck)
    with the amount I have saved using my
    system (and it won't cost $10,000).
    Five of my friends now have gone back to
    the old way by covering it up (They all do
    their own maintenance). When they actually
    feel a problem they then go read the codes,
    They love the extra help , and so do I once I
    notice I definitely feel, see, hear, smell, a
    problem. It's about saving the consumer
    money and aggravation. I think many people
    panic when the light is first noticed...we never
    had that problem in the old days before
    computers.

    3. I would love a research study on types of
    repairs done. I would bet 80% of the repairs
    are not for catastrophic failures. In other
    words most of the time we are in the shop for
    smaller things. Each time we go in, each time
    they can't find the cause for that light to
    remain on.....it costs consumers big money.
    My previous article already discussed the
    concept of spending in net dollars....a $60
    rate is like being charged $200/hour in
    gross dollars. Thats what you have to earn
    first before you have $60 in the bank to pay
    the service desk......OUCH !!!

    4. I also believe that even if there is a problem
    just starting, sometimes we cannot find the
    noise, etc. Sometimes it is better to let the
    part wear down (eg- a shock making a
    slight noise)...then bring it to the mechanic.
    Sometimes were too early to the shop, only
    because the check engine light went on. At
    this point when it is too early we don;'t know
    if we really have a problem or is it just due
    to "false error message". Sometimes its
    better to wait. Taping up that check engine
    light encourages you to only repair things
    you can really see and feel as you drive.

    I see your point, but I think a research study is in order (thats what marketing people always say). With good data we make better decisions. I am not saying you are wrong, but there are many people thinking my way also (a few posts in here I found where the person was upset over the engine light and his frequent returns for the same problem. All I am saying is my friends and I have been perfectly happy going back to the old days when that check engine light was not visible. Yet when there is a problem, bet we are reading those codes, I like starting with the easy way also.

    I think that as we add more sensors in the future, that statistically the correlation between the number of sensors and the frequency of the light going on will increase. This is only my hypothesis....as I say, I always believe in research (a habit of mine). We need more reliability perhaps, so that we have reduced "false errors" that the consumer is paying for.

    Well, I would like to end this discussion. I have no more to add, it's only my opinion, but it has worked for me and my few friends as well as for everyone in the old days before computers (when we were less frustrated and less aware of every little thing that acts up in our car).....we lived with imperfection back then. Our check engine light has sensitized the marketplace (and manufacturers and dealers love it).

    Xfiles

    P.S: Sorry for the poor formatting and the rather long article. I would love an on/off button next to the check engine light to avoid ugly tape.
  • xfilesxfiles Posts: 132
    I read your User Agreement. In particular I noted the following in the participant agreement:

    "That I agree to disagree in a civil manner should I take issue with the statements of another town hall participant."

    "That I will not harass, threaten, or impersonate any townhall participants"

    Seems I broke a rule (profane word), I apologize, but I see Opatience has broken some too. I did not expect this to turn into a nuisance for you. I wrote my first article......then Opatience started with the harassment and insults (to discredit and ridicule me). That is not what I call civil behaviour by your rules.

    Seems to me that Opatience is apologizing to the wrong people.

    Xfiles
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    First,in the "old days" transmissions were not controlled by the computer or a torque converter lockup selenoid,the selenoid is controlled by the computer,so if it geos bad,it locks the converter and the light goes on.If nothing gets done about it,it takes out the trans clutches.As for the light coming on in driveability situations,it may not be catastrophic,but may cause an economy problem,meaning that it may be that a sensor or in the case of an O2 sensor,a vacuum leak has cause poor mileage performance and while the vehicle is still driveable,it may cost the owner more in fuel than to have it repaired.The first vehicle I ever worked on was an old Dodge flat head and I would prefer to go back to the days of the older V-8s,but if a mechanic does a good job of diagnosing,then he will replace the correct part and only the correct part.No one is perfect and sometimes the wrong sensor gets replaces,but I can tell you that even before the electronic systems,mechanics often replaced the wrong part.And those older systems were far simpler than todays engines.Like I said before,if you understood the systems(which clearly you don't),then you would understand how it works and that anyone who relies soley on the codes to diagnose is NOT a mechanic.I work as a fleet repair coordinator,I get paid the same no matter what,and my job is to make sure that the vehicles and equipment are repaired the most economical way,so your comment(and I quote)Your behaving from a
    mechanics point of view....try to induce fear, and
    make some money for the dealer (also there may be
    liability issues involved for you)
    .I have nothing to gain by it,because it doesn't make a difference to me,I don't deal with a customer.Taping the light over is not fixing the problem,it is cobbling,or whatever you want to call it.I have been pretty civil,I thought.
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    ...everyone HAS been civil. Thank you all for that.

    I believe you CAN have an impassioned and heated argument and still remain civil. Look at the British House of Lords (and sometimes the House of Commons), although there have been some fistfights over the years I suppose...

    your host, Bruce
  • torektorek Posts: 92
    ... for a reason that can be expressed remarkably simply (although as I am sure he would be able to point out, when you boil it down far it gets fuzzy):

    Now that they have a catch-all "something is wrong" light, they can eliminate other lights (or, more likely, "not add" new ones that really should exist).

    That means that if you hide the "something" light, you may never get any other indication until the car suddenly stops working at all.

    Unfortunately, it seems that the US government (and probably other countries' as well) have now mandated "check" conditions for anything that might cause an increase in tailpipe emissions, as well as for "fuel tank" emissions (pressure sensors in the tank etc.), as part of the OBD-II system. This makes it easy for their "agents", if you will -- the smog-test people in various states -- to look at the dashboard and see if your car has passed the government-spec tests inside itself. Since there is just the one "big red question mark", as it were (okay, my light is actually yellow), there is no easy way to tell "temporary glitch in airflow sensor" or "loose gas cap alert" apart from "she canna take much more of this captain!" (Star Trek ref.; imagine Scotty saying that).

    Your car may or may not have OBD-II (depends on the vintage of the computers inside it), and if it does, there seem to be some variations on physical connector layout and such. I would like to find some way to connect mine to a laptop I could carry around inside the car. In fact, what I really want is a way to read out all the parameters and sensor-readings in the car, so that I could collect them up in files and pore over my own car's performance data later, and maybe even tune it (adjust auto transmission shiftpoints, etc) whenever I feel like it. :-)

    Chris
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    AutoXray
    The EZ Link scanner can do most of the things you are looking for.It cannot reprogram though.But it is a relatively inexpensive for a scanner that can do OBD2 and the older OBD sytems,it is around $450,I think.And compared to the system I use($2,000) and some of the less expensive units($900)It is a reasonable price.Anyway,it is an option.
  • WHEN THAT LIGHT COMES ON IT PUTS FEAR, ANXIETY, AND STRESS IN ALL OF US WHO ARE NOT MECHANICS......

    THE BIGGEST FEARS NOT GETTING TO WORK, AND MISSING TIME. MANY PEOPLE LIVE WEEK TO WEEK ON THEIR PAYCHECKS. AND FOR AN HOURS WORTH OF WORK ON THAT VEHICLE IT COSTS US TWO DAYS PAY, OR MORE.

    MY PAST VISITS HAVE COST ME, A WEEK OR MORE OF MY WAGES.

    AND WHEN YOU PAY TO HAVE THE LIGHT FIXED AND IT KEEPS COMING BACK ON. YOUR FRUSTRATED, YOU LOSE CONFIDENCE IN MECHANICS,
    AND YOUR WAY STRESSED OVER WHERE YOU ARE GOING TO KEEP GETTING MONEY TO HOPEFULLY FINALLY GET IT FIXED...

    MY LIGHT STAYED ON FOR TWO YEARS
    WITH THE CAR RUNNING JUST FINE.

    A MECHANIC TOLD ME IT WAS THE 02 SENSOR, AND IF IT RAN OKAY TO JUST KEEP RUNNING IT.......

    IM SURE YOUR ALL GOOD MECHANICS.
    BUT TO BE THE VERY BEST MECHANIC
    YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND AND HAVE PATIENCE WITH US.....

    THERE ARE GOOD AND BAD MECHANICS
    JUST LIKE THERE IS GOOD AND BAD
    EVERYTHING ELSE IN LIFE.....

    99% OF THE TIME I HAVE THE MISFORTUNE OF GETTING THE BAD MANNERED, RUDE, I KNOW IT ALL MECHANICS. I HAVE BEEN TAKEN ON SOME LONG, EXPENSIVE RIDES.

    ONCE I GOT TO WATCH THREW A WINDOW AS MY CAR WAS BEING WORKED ON. I TIMED THE MECHANIC
    HE HAD MY CAR IN THERE FOR 4 HOURS, AND WORKED ON IT A TOTAL OF 1 HOUR........ HE KEPT RUNNING FROM MY CAR TO OTHER PEOPLES CARS, DOING QUICK OIL CHANGES ECT. YET I GOT CHARGED FOR THE FULL 4 HOURS!!!!!!!!!

    WHEN MY BRAND NEW CAR WAS TOWED TO THE DEALERS 3 TIMES IN ONE WEEK, I WAS UPSET THE SECOND TIME FROM MISSING WORK, AND THE MECHANIC ARGUED, THREATENED ME THAT I WOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR PARTS,THAT HE WAS REPLACING BECASUE HE COULDNT FIGURE OUT EXACTLY WHAT WAS WRONG, I STARTED STICKING UP FOR MYSELF.
    ON MY THIRD VISIT I HEARD HIM CALL ME A NASTY NAME TO HIS FRIENDS WHEN HE SAW ME COMING AGAIN ..
    I TOLD HIM WHAT AS WRONG WITH MY CAR AND THAT I KNEW IT WAS A FACTORY DEFECT.
    AND IF HE DIDN'T FIX IT RIGHT THIS TIME, THEY COULD HAVE IT BACK, I WOULD PUSH IT RIGHT THREW THEIR SHOWCASE WINDOW!!!!

    WHAT GOT ME WRITING THIS, WAS I READ SOMETHINGS IN HERE THAT REMINDED ME OF THAT MECHANIC.

    A MAN WAS TRYING TO WRITE HIS OPINION AT THIS SITE, HE WAS NOT A MECHANIC, AND HE DIDN'T WRITE AS CLEARLY AS HE SHOULD HAVE, (BUT I UNDERSTOOD HIM) YET A CERTAIN MECHANIC, INSULTED HIM.
    BECAUSE HE DID NOT UNDERSTAND THE MANS POINT OF VIEW, FROM ANYTHING BUT A MECHANICS POINT OF VIEW.................

    THE MAN TRYING TO EXPLAIN HIS POINT OF VIEW WENT BY THE NAME OF XFILES.................

    XFILES SAID THAT THIS LIGHT PUTS FEAR IN US ALL.
    THOSE OF US WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED THIS LIGHT GOING ON, KNOW HE IS 100% RIGHT THERE......

    HE ALSO SAID IF YOUR CAR IS RUNNING FINE, TAPE THE LIGHT. SO YOU DON'T GO CRAZY LOOKING AT IT.........

    NOT SUCH AN INSANE IDEA WHEN IF THE CAR IS RUNNING, WITH NO APPARENT PROBLEMS YOUR GOING TO
    KEEP DRIVING, AS ONE YOU PROBABLY HAVE NO CHOICE AND TWO
    YOUR NOT VERY LIKLY TO GET AN APPOINTMENT FOR A FEW DAYS AT THE GARAGE, ANYWAYS...........

    TO YOU MECHANICS, THIS MAN MAY HAVE SEEMED LIKE YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE........

    BUT TO ME THE NONMECHANIC, WHO HAS, TAKEN MY CAR TO THE GARAGE,
    HAS HAD ATTEMPTS AT FIXING IT,
    THEN BEING TOLD ITS THE 02 SENSOR JUST DRIVE IT.....
    WELL THIS GUY HIT HOME WITH ME.

    HE KNOWS THE VALUE OF MONEY, THE EXPENSE OF GARAGES. AND THAT THE LIGHT COMING ON DOESN;T ALWAYS MEAN AN EMERGENY......

    I KNOW MANY PEOPLE WHO DO DRIVE
    WITH THAT LIGHT ON, AND THEIR CARS RUN JUST FINE..........

    IM SURE THIS MAN DID NOT MEAN TO IGNORE THE LIGHT AND NEVER HAVE IT CHECKED OUT.......

    ANYONE HERE NOW, DRIVING THERE CAR WITH THAT LIGHT ON????????

    HOW MANY TIMES YOU BEEN BACK TO THE GARAGE???????

    DOES YOUR CAR DRIVE OKAY?

    HOW MUCH MONEY HAVE YOU SPENT, AND HOW FRUSTRATED ARE YOU?????

    THE BOTTOM LINE HERE IS. XFILES HAD SOME GOOD POINTS. I BELIEVE HIS INTENTIONS WERE NOT TO HAVE EVERYONE IGNORE THEIR LIGHTS.

    HE WAS MAINLY STATING DON'T LET THAT LIGHT DRIVE YOU CRAZY, AND DON'T BE SO FEARFUL OF IT.

    IM SURE AS A NONMECHANIC HE WAS JUST TRYING TO EASE EVERYONES FEARS.

    I UNDERSTAND HIM SAYING IF THE CAR IS RUNNING GOOD, WHY KEEP RUNNING TO THE GARAGE, TO PAY MORE MONEY, AND STILL END UP WITH THE LIGHT ON? AT LEAST GET SOME OVER TIME AND SAVE FOR THE NEXT VISIT INSTEAD OF USNG YOUR GROCERY MONEY FOR THE WEEK...

    I BELIEVE THIS MAN WAS TRYING TO
    TALK FROM A CONSUMERS POINT OF VIEW.........

    HE WAS MISUNDERSTOOD, FOR THE LACK OF ALL THE RIGHT WORDS.
    PROBABLY I WILL BE TOO.

    I AM HAPPY TO AT LEAST FIND ONE PERSON WHO IS WILLING TO SPEAK HIS MIND. EVEN IF NO ONE ELSE
    UNDERSTANDS HIM BUT ME.AND MAYBE A FEW OTHERS.......

    IS THERE ANYONE AT THIS SITE WHO UNDERSTANDS WHAT THIS MAN WAS REALLY TRYING TO SAY???????

    I SAW HIM AS A MAN WHO WASN'T A MECHANIC, TRYING TO EASE THE FEARS OF THE DREADED LIGHT....

    I DIDN'T VIEW HIM AS AN IDIOT

    I VIEWED HIM AS A NONMECHANIC,
    WHO KNEW WHAT HE WAS TRYING TO SAY, BUT WAS TOTALY MISUNDERSTOOD...........
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    Well,IF you know what is causing the light to come on,that is one thing.But if you don't,it may be nothing and it may end up costing you big bucks later.If a mechanic is even a little rude to you,don't go to them,if they have a bad additute to you,how do you think they are treating your vehicle?I wasn't saying be paranoid everytime the light goes on,but at least be aware of it and at least try and find out why it is coming on.Intermittent check engine light problems probably are no concern,but if the light is on solid,then there is a problem and the longer it is run that way,the more it will cost to repair it correctly.If you aren't going to keep the vehicle,then don't worry about the light.But if you care about your vehicle,at least get the codes and there are many sites that will help with the code info.By the way,if he had no idea of what he was talking aobut or what he was saying,then why say it?
  • vigorfanvigorfan Posts: 1
    Help, my check engine light just went on. What does this mean? My owners manual told me to tighten the gas cap, I did, the light is still on.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    The check engine light can mean many things.THe best thing you can do,is have a scanner put on it and see what the codes are.Most shops will charge a diagnostic fee for this,but check at the local parts store for mechanics who do side work and will retrieve the codes for a small fee.Once you get the codes the mechanic can tell you what they mean or you can come back here and let us know and we will help you out.
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    ...doesn't go out right away. The computer looks at a running average. It will take some period of time before the "paranoid" computer thinks that "Everything's OK".

    Bruce
  • I need to find out how to read the fault codes on a 91 Olds 88 W/3.8L V/6. The car only has 6500 original miles on it and the Service Engine Soon light just came on. The engine idles and runs fine. It belongs to a widow and is seldom driven although started up on a regular basis. I have digital and analog voltmeters. Will I need some sort of code reader to determine the codes? She was told that it was likely a sensor, but I would like to be able to determine which one.
  • lotusmanlotusman Posts: 6
    For many years, or so I am told, GM relied on Lotus engineers to do the designing for their engine controls. My 1989 Lotus uses the MPFI system which they designed for the Corvette. I is the system used for their fuel injected cars. I found the codes for my system were like those for the 1988 Tempest in the Library. I corroborated these with the shop manual for my system.

    Regarding clearing the codes: Take the battery cables off. after several minutes they will clear. Return cables to their posts. As for how to get codes on a GM vehicle, at least with the MPFI system, where ever you find the plug on which they plug in the scanner at the shop, (This is not always easy to find.) there will be an "A" and a "B" pin location designated. Turn the ignition on but don't start the engine. I use a paper clip to short the two terminals. The check engine light will start to blink once, then twice or a 1-2 code three times. After that the codes will flash with blinks for three times then go on to any other trouble code there may be and repeat it three times. When no codes are left, the light will flash the 1-2 code three more times. As I said, check the Library for the car manual and the codes.

    My Lotus has had a "26" code for the three years which I have owned it. This is for "Quad Driver Module" which is longhand for it checking sensors and wiring. Or basically everything if you see the two pages of possibilities in the manual. I finally went to the dealership to see what their "Tech one" scanner showed. It said it could be three different things but the bottom line was that if no other symptoms are evident, "DON'T WORRY". My car still gets 25 MPG and will easily do 130 MPH.

    I do appreciate the possibilities ya'll have stated and I will try them out.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    Here are webpages for retrieving codes on pre 96 vehicles,click the manufacturer you need to retrive the codes on and it will take you there and there is also a codes list too.Some 95 and all 96 and later vehicles have the later OBD2 system and can only be retrieve with a scanner.
    GM code retrieval
    Chrysler code retrieval
    Ford code retrieval
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    It will probably make it easier if you print out the page you need.That way you can bring it to the vehicle with you.
  • Just wanted to thank Lotusman and Opatience for your assistance. This is exactly what I was looking for. You made it a simple job to get the computer codes.
  • phylpphylp Posts: 49
    It appears that a hole in the vacuum line was causing activation of the "Check Engine" light on our Passat. Thanks for all the good help on this "mystery."
  • protravelprotravel Posts: 19
    The check engine light is just a manufacturers, legal scam. They write tight factory codes in the system chips, and ANY variance will throw a check engine code.

    This is now my fourth year, and 60,000 miles, with a brightly burning check engine light, Should burn out soon!

    Think about it. $65.00 and hour times one million check engine lights, you do the math.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    I suppose the oil light,alt light and temp light were all scams too.The specs for the computers on vehicles are actually quite broad and in or for a check engine light to come on and stay on certain things have to happen.A hard fault code must be set or multiple temperary fault codes must be set in a given amount of time.Or the same fault code must have multiple settings.But itf a temporary fault code sets the light and it isn't a continuous code,then it will clear itself and turn the light off.If the light has come on and is staying on,then a hard code has set and there is a sensor problem.As I said before,if you want to ignore the light,hey,more power to you,but some people take pride in their vehicles and if you know what is causing the light,no big deal.If the vehicle is 95 or earlier,there are ways to retrieve the codes yourself and I have given links for the domestics,and if anyone needs other vehicles I have those too.After 95,the federal govt. regulated that the systems in vehicles go to a system by all of them,the OBD2 system and it is only retrievable thru a scanner.Scanners run from $399 and up.Really,please do your homework before making some statements as some people actually believe what is written.
    I guess most of you knew I wouldn't leave this one alone.Ha ha.
  • I have a 96 Ranger p/u. My question is: Can a mechanic intentionally cause the engine light to come on - could he pop the hood and pull some wire or something. My story: I pulled into a Firestone shop to pick up some new wipers. I was going to put them on myself but it was almost free for them to do it. After 15 minutes, the truck comes out and the tech gives the key over to the desk and tells him something inaudible to me. The desk guy is says " oh (my name) your check engine light is on" using a tone of seriousness in his voice. I quickly sensed that he was hoping that I would panic and beg him to turn it off. I didn't fall for that. My light just happened to come on now! BS. I know they did something, for I was at this shop before and I haggled with them on the price of a new tire / wheel alignment. I also needed brakes at the time, and I told them somebody else would do it. I guess they don't particularly like me. Of course I just may be paranoid and it's just a coincidence that my light came on during a wiper change???
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    To remove any doubt as to why the check engine light comes on, just invest in a $200 OBD2 diagnostic tester. The scanner will tell you why the light came on and codes can be erased once repairs are made. Even if you cannot repair the car yourself you will at least have an idea of what to expect from your mechanic. Actron makes a scanner that covers all OBD2 (from 1996 upwards all have to be) imports and local cars for $200. Visit their site at http://www.actron.com The model # of the scanner is - CP9035. I don't regret buying myself one.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Look out for this one! On OBD2 the computer also checks for fuel tank pressure and if the engine is running while the gas cap is off or loosely fitted, the check engine light will come on. After a few stop and run cycles with the gas cap properly fitted it should go off. Meantime, before it goes off you could be sweating wondering what has brought the check engine light on. Also a source of income for dishonest mechanics however.
  • butch11butch11 Posts: 153
    It is really easy to make it come on-pull off a plug wire with the engine running-on it goes. If you have the time and there is a crusading tv station in your area-call the news desk-ask them if they would like to help catch a crook.

    Would suggest you never go back to that den of thieves.
  • skyrmskyrm Posts: 10
    I have a 1996 Geo Prizm with 84000 miles. My wife put on 80000 of those, and a few weeks after I started driving it, the check engine light came on. Took it to a local service station, they kept it 2 days, couldn't find anything wrong, and turned the light off.

    Now, 3 months later, it came on again. Decided to take it to a local Chevy dealer. The ran the diagnostics, and told me I need a new 02 sensor and a new ECM. $1400. Ouch.

    Having a basic distrust of dealerships, I decided to try and get a copy of the diagnostic report, to get the numbers that came up. It took 2 days, and they said they don't print them out, the tech just writes them down. Hmmmm..... Dealer just moved into a new humongous building, all new stuff, and they can't get a printer for this stuff?

    Anyway, they say the number was PO136. I checked the GM codes that were posted in this forum, and they were all 2 digits #'s. I'm I being taken for a ride? Anyone able to help, I would greatly appreciate it!!!

    Thanks,

    Steve
  • locke2clocke2c Posts: 5,038
    Oops, almost forgot. Under OBDII there must be at least two o2 sensors. One before any catalysts and one after at least one catalyst. Even replacing both won't be that expensive.

    -Colin
  • locke2clocke2c Posts: 5,038
    That's an OBDII type code Steve. P=Powertrain. To know the rest I'd have to not be sitting here at work. ;)

    Buy an o2 sensor yourself, they are not expensive. Replace that and then disconnect the battery overnight. Reconnect in the morning and when you start the engine, let it warm up and don't touch any controls until the idle stabilizes. This should reset any soft codes.

    After that if the light comes back on then you can consider additional repairs. I wouldn't want to just fork over $1400 without trying this first, and I'm sure you feel the same.

    -Colin
  • skyrmskyrm Posts: 10
    My wife and I thank you for the quick response! We have a guy who can install the sensors, I have no idea where they even go. We'll see what happens, and let you know.

    The guy at Chevy told me that probably what happened is the O2 sensor overheated, and shorted out the ECM. Wouldn't the car stall or run rough if the ECM was bad? I thought that thing was relatively important? The car runs fine.

    Thanks again,

    Steve
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    It is the one farthest back and not necessarily the sensor itself.Forget the ECM as the problem,it is not.If the ECM was the problem,then it would either throw more codes or make the engine run rough.Have an independant shop check the O2 sensor circuit only.
  • skyrmskyrm Posts: 10
    We have a guy who will look at that for us. I guess the dealership just figures that we will believe whatever they tell us. NOT!

    Thanks again - you've been a big help to us and many others here.

    Later,

    Steve
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    I have a webpage with the generic OBD2 codes and their definitions(some OBD2 codes are manufacture specific and are not listed).Click on the link and it will take you there.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Steve,
    From my knowledge of electronics I can tell you this. I have not had hands on experience of automotive computers but the same would apply in your case. The oxygen sensor is a low voltage high impedance device and its typical operating voltage ranges from 0.10 volt to 0.90 volts output. The input resistance to the computer from the O2 sensor is high. Therefore, the computer should suffer no damage should the O2 sensor go short circuit.

    Only in the case of a low impedance output from the computer as in the driver for an injector for example, is it possible that damage may occur if that output is shorted. Hopefully, the computer fuse would have blown first.

    To sum up. I think that the mechanic that told you a shorted O2 sensor damaged your computer is taking a chance.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I have read through these postings again. I cannot understand why a mechanic would knowingly let a person drive a vehicle with a bad O2 sensor as in the case of Intique41.

    The O2 sensor is one of the most important devices in in the system and is cheap and easy to replace. It allows the computer to go into "closed loop control" in order to fine tune fuel consumption and emissions. If the sensor is bad the computer runs in "open loop mode" and, eventually, "limp home" mode with a loss of performance. If the fuel mixture is too rich there is also a danger of damaging the catalytic converter. How on earth does such a vehicle pass a smog check anyway?
  • skyrmskyrm Posts: 10
    We will have the O2 sensor replaced asap. I'm sure it won't cost $1400. My wife and I really appreciate the help.

    The dealer that we went to is advertising that they are adding a hair salon and diner to their building. I guess they plan on customers spending ALL their money there.

    Later,

    Steve
  • skyrmskyrm Posts: 10
    Took the Prizm to the guy my wife used to take the car too when she was driving it, and he said it is only the O2 sensor. Will be $320 or so. Man, is that an expensive part.

    Oh well, beats $1400!!!

    Thanks again,

    Steve
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    $320 isn't so expensive when comes to that kind of replacement. Keep in mind that your Prizm is just a rebadged Toyota Corolla. And import car's parts and labor tend to cost more than domestic cars. But, with Toyota's reliability, you should only very sedomly need repairs.
  • skyrmskyrm Posts: 10
    This is the first major work we've needed, and the car had 84,000 miles after only 4 years. Not bad. It's a nice little car, and I can fit my drums in it, so I'm happy.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    When I took my 86 Honda Prelude for a smog check it failed because the O2 sensor was bad. Total cost for parts and labor to replace by service station mechanic while I waited - $170. If you can replace it yourself it will be cheaper. You can use a generic brand. Bosch makes them for all makes and model cars. In fact as far as I know, most automakers use Bosch. Just get the right one suitable for your car. I have some idea in my mind that they cost around $80 or so.

    The O2 sensor in the Prelude was marginal and did not bring the Check Engine light on. However, after replacing it the car passed the smog check with flying colors. I also noticed a distinct improvement in performance.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    You are a little off on your price quote,if you can find an O2 sensor for a 96 Prizm for $80,let me know where you can buy them.My cost at Jobber prices(wholesale)for Bosch O2 sensor for the Geo Prizm is around $100.ExpressAuto Parts has BorgWarner O2 sensors for around $100,if it is a Calif.model then the sensor is around $150.ExpressAuto Parts is about the least expensive on the internet.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Opatience, as I said, it was a price I had in my mind. I did not state it as fact. The O2 sensor was replaced in the Honda Prelude more than 3 years ago and that might have been the prevailing price then. I have lost the detailed statement but I know that the total bill for parts and labor was $170 3 years ago. However you look at it, $320 is pretty steep for the Geo Prizm.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Opatience, by the way, I forgot to add that the ignition timing also had to be set and this was also included in the total price of $170. I stood by while the mechanic did this so I know that it was done. I also watched him fit the new O2 sensor.
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