What do you do when your check engine light comes on?.

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Mem, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. Mem

    Mem
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    I usually ignore it because mine has come on and then shut itself off a week or two later after tightening the gas cap.

    It's on now so I might go to Auto Zone where they check it for free. I'm hoping it's only my brakes because I think they were starting to go, but I don't know if the check engine light would light up for brakes.
     
  2. MickeyLee

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    if you are my ex-girlfriend you put a PETA "I'm Not A Nugget" sticker over the light. then act all shocked and WTF when parts start falling off your car.

    i check fluid levels. restart. if the light remains on i'll check the filters and hoses. if the light still won't stay dark i'll hit up a friend with one of those code boxes/reset boxes.

    my ride is older and lacks engine lights. i just pay attention to my baby.
     
    #2 MickeyLee, Apr 17, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2010
  3. HazelGod

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    Everyone I know who knows cars calls that thing the idiot light...because only a fucking idiot would design a single, nondescript light to indicate any number of possibly catastrophic conditions developing in an internal combustion engine.

    One thing you might do is search for any forums that cater to your make and model of car...they may have instructions on how to get a more meaningful diagnostic indicator from your car using a relatively simple procedure.

    In answer to your question, though: no, it's extremely unlikely the brake system is wired to the CEL...but given the idiotic nature of the people who design these things, I wouldn't rule it out entirely.
     
  4. MrToolhung

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    I used to have a Bonneville and the light would constantly go off. It's a good thing though that I brought it to the dealership each time because it was something that needed attention. But then again it could be just your gas cap is dirty or not closed properly. That is one thing that I would check before bringing it in. The dealership that I go to does not charge to have the reads taken.
     
  5. Mem

    Mem
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    One thing that I'm thrilled about is that I don't have to pay some jerk $100 to reset it. Florida does not have auto inspections and I know that states that do will fail you for that light on.
     
  6. SpeedoMike

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    the Check Engine monitors the engine computer. it comes on when a monitored function requires attention.

    and yes, a loose gas cap can cause it to light and because of that the emission control system isn't functioning properly.
     
  7. RawDog

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    I bought something similar to this years ago:

    Amazon.com: Equus 3030 Innova Diagnostic Code Reader for OBDII Vehicles: Automotive

    ...and it's been a lifesaver in all three of our vehicles. Just plug it in, write down the codes it spits out and look it up in the manual. Sometimes it's a moot point (mass air flow sensor was out and had to have a mechanic replace it), sometimes it says something like radiator fluid low. Cases like that add antifreeze, reset the codes and off you go.
     
  8. conntom

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    It nothing serious. The check engine light has to do with (mostly) the emissions system.

    The fixes are usually cheap and easy. This is not true when the cheap part happens to be under your upper manifold however - or a vacuum leak. Such things can be cheap in parts but expensive in labor.

    The sucky part is this - in many states you can not get an inspection sticker if it is on.

    That light will not go on for serious issues like brakes, low oil, over heating. For those you either get the red brake like or red engine light. If either of those light up, pull your car over immediately and do not drive it again until fixed. When those lights come on you may not have much time before major damage is done.
     
  9. conntom

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    With some cars you don;t even need that. Cycling the key back and forth can make certain lights flash that will tell you then number code and then you can ask the car store what it means or look it up online.
     
  10. petergroot

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    Thank the stars where I live they don't execute you if your vechile does not have a computer onboard. So I am responsible for checking all the systems on board, and idiot lioghts don't confuse me. Of course that means I have bikes and cars that date back to the 80's, but I like that.
    Seems like there is some good advice being given in the posts though.
    and MEM..... that poor jerk? @ least he has a job. He knows more re idiot lights than you, so don't slag him off.
     
  11. nudeyorker

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    I've only owned my present car for about a year and a half and so far none of the lights or bells have gone off, but I have my car serviced every six months.
     
  12. b.c.

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    You don't need to buy a check engine light thingymajig. As I recall, Autozone will run a diagnostic of it for nada. Depending on what the results are, you either get it fixed, or like me, drive around with it on.
     
  13. BobLeeSwagger

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    If your car is not otherwise acting unusual, then it's most likely an emission system issue, like others have said. And like he said, it usually doesn't require any attention unless you need to pass a smog inspection. If something really bad is happening, then a part will either fail very soon, or it would have already.

    Some newer cars do give you a specific message on what the alert means, like it's time for an oil change, or whatever. But if all you have is an idiot light and the car is not performing poorly or making odd noises, then it's not something serious.
     
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