Author Topic: Check engine light question  (Read 10219 times)

Stlbroke

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Check engine light question
« on: March 12, 2015, 11:47:19 AM »
The check engine light is on sometimes in my car and could not pass state safety inspections. I need it off to renew my plates.  My fuel gauge is broke so my car always reads the fuel tank is empty. Some research online tells me it could be anywhere from $500-$1000 to fix.  I've noticed that when I have less than maybe 8 gallons the check engine light goes off. Does anyone know if it would pass inspections at this time?  I wasn't sure if they hook it up to a computer it would tell them there is a lingering problem or not.

I do just fine without the gauge and I do not plan to sell this for many years. It's paid off and only has 90,000 miles.  Thanks to anyone that can help

terran

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2015, 12:04:31 PM »
I think it needs to go through a number of on/off cycles without a code being thrown to pass. You could get it cleared, and drive around for a week or two without filling the tank too far and if it doesn't come back on try getting it inspected.

Hurley82

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2015, 12:33:49 PM »
Depends on the inspection, here in Colorado I pulled the battery off to reset the light just before going to get inspected, passed without issue.  The code that is being thrown will determine how quickly the light returns. Autozone or similiar local auto parts store  will also pull the code for free and tell you typical issues causing the code. The check engine light can be a simple as a gas cap , o2 sensor etc.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2015, 12:38:48 PM »
If the light turns off on it's own you should be good to go.  If you clear it with a OBDII device or by disconnecting the battery, you might need 50 miles or so of mixed highway and city driving to get it to reset to "ready".

In our state, you can try as many as needed to pass.  They fail you the first time, then you just go back when you think everything is okay and repeat until you pass.  We've had as many as 3-4 trips back to the inspection station trying to avoid costly repairs that did not materially impact vehicle function.  You can also get a waiver if you spend over $200 and it doesn't fix the problem (your state may vary). 

Next time it comes on, stop by a Autozone or other parts store and get them to read the code.  Most do not charge for this service.  I don't think a bad gas guage would cause much of a problem, but a bad gas cap is a known offender.

Jack

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2015, 01:05:07 PM »
My fuel gauge is broke so my car always reads the fuel tank is empty. Some research online tells me it could be anywhere from $500-$1000 to fix.

Your broken fuel sender is probably not the cause of your CEL. (I know this because my truck's fuel sender is broken too, but it passes emissions.)

You need to go read the code and then fix whatever the real problem is.

Exflyboy

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2015, 01:05:16 PM »
I second going to Autozone so you know what is actually causing the issue.

it could be a sensor going out of range, or even dodgy wiring.

Either way the OBD2 system is very good at narrowing down what the problem is so thats the first step.

caseyzee

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2015, 02:03:44 PM »
Is a check engine light on an automatic fail?

Aren't there plenty of reasons a light could be on that are not safety or emissions related?

thd7t

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2015, 02:10:04 PM »
What state are you in?  Check engine is not usually a safety issue.

Beaker

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2015, 03:42:43 PM »
Is a check engine light on an automatic fail?

Aren't there plenty of reasons a light could be on that are not safety or emissions related?

I don't think the emissions people will hook the car up to diagnostics to find out what the problem is - they'll just assume it's a problem and fail you. I'm fairly sure that's how they do it in our state, anyway.

"Funny" sidebar - last time wife's car was in for emissions the tech put the gas cap on wrong, so they caused the check engine light to come on. Ended up wasting a bunch of time tracking it down to get it to shut off. :-/

Syonyk

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2015, 04:36:55 PM »
At least in Washington, a lit CEL is an automatic emissions fail.  They don't even bother to plug in and check - if it's lit, you fail.

Go get the code read.  It'll tell you what's wrong.  If it's something about evap emissions system, replace your fuel cap.

whydavid

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2015, 05:07:31 PM »
Is a check engine light on an automatic fail?

Aren't there plenty of reasons a light could be on that are not safety or emissions related?

If the light comes on, it's emissions related...that's the entire purpose of the OBD system.  Safety is not a factor.  There are other codes you can read out of the system, but if they don't affect emissions you probably won't see the light.

Stlbroke

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2015, 05:25:14 PM »
I'm in missouri. I know it is an automatic fail for either one of safety or emissions. Sorry for not being more clear, but I do know that the fuel sensor is the problem after having auto zone use their device on it. 


Spork

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2015, 05:31:25 PM »
As said: depends on the inspection.  In Texas there are different levels of inspection based on car year and county.  Counties with a large number of ozone action days have mandatory smog tests that hook into ODB2 port.  They will fail you for emissions issues even if the CEL is off.   ODB1 cars have to have a more expensive dynamometer test.  Old cars are exempt.

thd7t

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2015, 06:50:54 AM »
I'm in missouri. I know it is an automatic fail for either one of safety or emissions. Sorry for not being more clear, but I do know that the fuel sensor is the problem after having auto zone use their device on it.
I should have figured that from your username.  In StL, it's an emissions issue (or it was, 10 years ago).

Jack

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2015, 07:28:49 AM »
Sorry for not being more clear, but I do know that the fuel sensor is the problem after having auto zone use their device on it.

Oh, well in that case you'd better fix it (or stop driving the car), since it seems like you don't have any other choice if the "test the emissions with less than 8 gal in the tank" gambit fails.

Just to double check, did the Autozone guy tell you the code and then you looked it up and determined it to be the fuel sender, or did the Autozone guy just 'interpret' the code himself? Sometimes codes have multiple possible causes, and maybe whoever interpreted the code got it wrong.

By the way, why do you think it's so expensive to fix? As I understand it, on my truck the fuel sensor replacement involves removing the bed to get to the fuel tank, which is enough of a pain that I haven't bothered, but it isn't actually too hard to DIY. On (at least some) cars, it should be easier because the top of the fuel tank can often be accessed by removing the rear seat cushion.

Could you post the year/make/model of your car and the ODBII code you're getting?

JLee

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2015, 07:44:47 AM »
Yes, please post the year/make/model and the exact code (P0123, etc).

mschaus

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2015, 09:53:05 AM »
Sometimes there are questions that MMM has lots of great background info on in the blog, but no one links to his posts. Someone please tell me if that's taboo for some reason.

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/07/02/how-to-fix-a-car/

Regarding gaming the system to pass emissions when the Check Engine Light (really an emissions light) would normally be on:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/10/24/frugal-vs-cheap/

Don't forget that the secret mission of this blog is to prevent the human race from destroying itself and its environment!

Let's get your car fixed!

Melf

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2015, 11:12:00 AM »
Do we know what OBDI code the OP is getting?  I don't think a fuel gauge not working is going to trigger a code....could be mistaken though. 

cartechguy

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2015, 11:21:48 AM »
Please give me the year make and model of your car.  What state are you in?

I can help you more.  If your in VA IF the car was tested and FAILED the code(s) will be on your form they gave you. 

More than happy to help. MOST check engine lights are CAUSED BY A LOOSE GAP CAP!!

thd7t

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2015, 12:39:06 PM »
Please give me the year make and model of your car.  What state are you in?

I can help you more.  If your in VA IF the car was tested and FAILED the code(s) will be on your form they gave you. 

More than happy to help. MOST check engine lights are CAUSED BY A LOOSE GAP CAP!!
In MO inspection, gas cap is tested independently (My car failed it 10 years ago). 

JLee

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #20 on: March 13, 2015, 01:33:20 PM »
Please give me the year make and model of your car.  What state are you in?

I can help you more.  If your in VA IF the car was tested and FAILED the code(s) will be on your form they gave you. 

More than happy to help. MOST check engine lights are CAUSED BY A LOOSE GAP CAP!!
In MO inspection, gas cap is tested independently (My car failed it 10 years ago).
In AZ as well, but you would also fail for the CEL.

Stlbroke

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #21 on: March 13, 2015, 02:22:16 PM »
I'm in missouri.  I drive an 06 gmc envoy.  I had the light tested a year ago and do not remember the code or if I or the autozone guy looked up the code. I just remember broken fuel gauge/ sensor is what set it off, nothing else.  I looked it up at the time and  it was more than I cared to spend to fix since it did not interfere with me driving it, until now when my plates are due.  I understood that the fuel tank would have to be dropped and also since they are in the process of all that labor cost I might as well have them replace the fuel pump while the fuel tank is dropped.  My internet research was based off others experiences and I guesstimated a "prepare for the worst, hope for the best" scenario of 500-1000 dollars. 

I found a discussion today where there might have been a silent recall and gm will pay for half the cost of the sensor. I'll have to look in to that, but the fuel pump thing would also be extra.

Or I could just time this whole thing correctly and have my car pass when the light is not on, and keep on keepin on.

I'm not selling this car.  it's current condition causes no harm to me, others, or the environment. So it's perfectly fine to cheat the system.

Help me get my car legal so I can invest that cash in other ways!!!!
Thank you


Jack

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cartechguy

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Re: Check engine light question
« Reply #23 on: March 13, 2015, 06:00:38 PM »
If you can go and get the code and I can go from there.  But, remember the code is only the title to the book.  Need to find out what is going on.  I will check for you on TSB for your car.  If for some weird reason your light goes off in a day or so go and get it tested again!! 

There are over 1100 reasons why that light is on.  When I was in business for over 20 years the emissions and the check engine light were the most problematic for my customers!!