Author Topic: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light  (Read 8327 times)

pjm123a

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A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« on: March 12, 2014, 07:42:06 AM »
My son gave me one of those panic calls that every parent dreads. Car broke down on the way to work. He wants to know what I think he should do. Fortunately, he was safe, lives close, and has AAA. I fancy myself as somewhat of a backyard mechanic. Told him to call AAA and have car towed to my house. I was able to start it but it would almost immediately stall and refuse to idle. The check engine light was on. I have a scanner and it showed 4 different codes. Did some googling/researching. A common cause for this is an air leak. A car engine basically breathes through a closed system. If the system is breached unwanted air "leaks" into the system. After closely examining the rubber parts through which the engine "breathes" I found a crack in a rubber coupler that connects the PVC valve to the intake manifold (see attached picture). I actually had one of these in my spare parts pile from a prior junkyard run. How cools was that! Anyway replaced the coupler and car started right up and idled fine! An amazing fix requiring no tools. The fix literally was free since I had the part. I'm sitting here wondering what a dealer/independent shop would charge for something like this?? Would an honest/good one do this just for the cost of the part or charge for at least an hour's worth of labor or some other minimum charge/shop charges, etc??

going2ER

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2014, 09:00:33 AM »
If you had taken it somewhere it probably wouldn't have been a cheap fix. They would have wanted to hook it up to their computer and charge a diagnosis fee, along with the part and labor.

I know that a car I used to have the check engine light would come on frequently. At one of my coworkers suggestions I unscrewed the gas cap and put it back on, worked every time to turn out that light.

sleepyguy

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2014, 09:28:52 AM »
Cool, for tougher issues I recommend getting and Bluetooth OBD checker.  And use your android phone/tablet with the free app to read the error codes.  Save me some trips to the mechanic when it was things I could do myself.  You can get them like $10-15 on ebay.

ketchup

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2014, 09:42:30 AM »
Nice work!  I was picturing something more like this when I clicked on the thread title:



PeachFuzzInVA

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2014, 06:51:46 PM »
Just like you wouldn't expect the doctor to diagnose you for free, you can't expect the auto repair shop to diagnose your vehicle for free. You have to pay the technician for his time, they don't get paid hourly. The repair would have ran $60 + parts at my shop.

SpecAg08

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2014, 07:16:21 AM »
A reasonable estimate for labor is about $100/hr. So, for a quick estimate:

Parts: $20 (total guess)
Labor: $100
Diagnostic: $60

TOTAL: $180

And you got it done with just a little elbow grease. Good job!

A quick tip, a lot of auto part stores will hook your car up to the computer and do a run a diagnosis for free, even if you don't buy parts from them. This allows you to identify the problems and decide if it's a DIY repair or something more serious.

Frankies Girl

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2014, 10:12:34 AM »
That's awesome. :)


My mechanic doesn't charge to pull the diagnostics codes, but that may be because I've been a long-time customer?

pjm123a

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2014, 11:18:07 AM »
That's awesome. :)


My mechanic doesn't charge to pull the diagnostics codes, but that may be because I've been a long-time customer?

This is my thinking. Someone that I would call "my mechanic" would not charge me for something that was really trivial because I am a good and valued customer. On the other hand the impartial dealer or independent shop (especially one of the chains) would charge me just to unlatch the hood. This is a good reason why in my opinion it makes sense to have some basic automotive knowledge.

MrMoneyPinch

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2014, 11:21:26 AM »
I am in no way a good amateur mechanic, but I bought a code reader (cheap ones are under 70$) and I get the service and repair manual for all my cars.  Sometimes a serious problem is an easy fix and those manuals are a gold mine for diagnostics.
Worst case, you bring the car to a real mechanic and know in advance what needs to be done. Hurrah for computerised cars!

pjm123a

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2014, 11:28:52 AM »
Another good source of information is to subscribe to enthusiast forums for the kind of car you have. There are tons of them. They offer solutions to common problems and even have step-by-step guides for more complex repairs. Even if you do not do any of the repairs simply being armed with the information means you can talk intelligently to whomever will do the repairs. These types of forums are incredible resources and are for the most part free.

BlueMR2

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2014, 03:36:12 PM »
Nice work!  I was picturing something more like this when I clicked on the thread title:

That'd be my '94 build date, but '95 model year Mitsubishi.  I get random multi-cylinder misfire lights when the engine's cold and I'm driving slowly, even though I can't feel any misfire at all.  Most cars have to be bucking broncos before misfire will trigger.  It think Mitsu made the sensor too touchy.

Little Nell

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2014, 08:17:28 PM »
That's much more subtle than our response to the light on our '89 Volvo. We give the dash a good whack and it goes off for a year or two.

DollarBill

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2014, 05:32:59 PM »
Quote
Another good source of information is to subscribe to enthusiast forums for the kind of car you have. There are tons of them. They offer solutions to common problems and even have step-by-step guides for more complex repairs. Even if you do not do any of the repairs simply being armed with the information means you can talk intelligently to whomever will do the repairs. These types of forums are incredible resources and are for the most part free.

pjm123a...is so right! These forums are so resourceful and have wicked smart people that will help you out (kind of like here).

This past week my truck had a hard time starting and then went into failsafe mode (basically a mode so you can limp off the road). A lot of time one of your sensors could have given off a false reading or no reading causing the engine to cut out. Always try to disconnect the battery for a bit (Some cars only take a few mins and others take a few hours). It will reset the codes...if the codes come on again it means it is an active code.

It is covenant to have your own code reader but if the vehicle is still drivable you can stop at most auto parts store (Autozone, Trackauto..etc.) they will read the codes for free. I'll start working on a new post with tips and tricks for auto breakdowns. I'll link it when finished. 
 

DollarBill

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2014, 06:37:22 PM »
Well...I started to type up some tips and tricks for auto breakdown but really I would be better off starting my own blog. At some point your vehicle will leave you stranded...have a plan.
Keep food, water, warm clothes in the car.
Know who you can call.
Keep a manual in the car
Learn about your car
Keep good maintenance on your car

Quote
That'd be my '94 build date, but '95 model year Mitsubishi.  I get random multi-cylinder misfire lights when the engine's cold and I'm driving slowly, even though I can't feel any misfire at all.  Most cars have to be bucking broncos before misfire will trigger.  It think Mitsu made the sensor too touchy.

Most likely it's the knock sensor...common problem.

Quote
We give the dash a good whack and it goes off for a year or two.

The power of the Fonz is strong with you :)

Fireman

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2014, 01:01:35 AM »
Based on the thread title alone, my initial inclination was that the solution was covering or removing the check engine light!

vegasdude

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2014, 04:01:03 PM »
Not sure AutoZone still does this but a few years ago I borrowed a scanner from them that not only gave me the numerical code, but the problem in plain English too. Basically you pay for the scanner with a CC, use it for a day or so, then bring it back and they refund you 100% Obviously if you don't come back they keep your money.

pjm123a

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2014, 10:03:18 PM »
My philosophy is to keep my vehicles until they are just piles of rust. My newest car is a 2002. I have not made a car payment in about 10 years and never intend to make another. I have a code scanner as they are pretty cheap these days. They are quite valuable if you intend to maintain and repair your vehicles yourself. I am often amazed at how relatively inexpensive common parts are for popular cars. This is probably due to a healthy aftermarket source for these parts and is a real benefit over owning something real exotic for which there are little or no aftermarket sources. For instance over this weekend I replaced the timing chain in my wife's 1999 Jeep with 150k miles. I was only intending to replace a seal in the timing cover to fix an oil leak. But when I took the timing cover off I noticed the chain had some slop in it. Even though I was really deep into the engine I might have let it go if a new chain was expensive but the entire timing kit (chain, crank sprocket, and cam sprocket) was $99 at my local Advanced Auto Parts. With the new chain I expect the Jeep to run better and get better mileage since things will be closer to the original tolerances when the engine was new. I do not think it unrealistic to drive this car to 300k miles. It is mechanically sound and there is no hint of rust on it (one of the benefits of living in Florida). On top of all this my wife absolutely loves the Jeep!
« Last Edit: March 23, 2014, 10:09:11 PM by pjm123a »

HawkeyeNFO

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2014, 11:18:04 AM »
Gotta put in a plug for two places where parts are about half the cost of AutoZone/Advance/PepBoys, etc. 

I have saved hundreds of dollars over the past couple of years buying parts from either Amazon or RockAuto.  Much cheaper than any auto parts store, in my experience.

paddedhat

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Re: A simple Solution To Check Engine Light
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2014, 07:42:57 AM »
Another loyal customer of rockauto.com.

 I had to replace the brake light sockets on an older Chevy truck. The replacement sockets had an AC Delco part number, but nobody had them anywhere local. Any online search with the part # resulted in "not in stock". The dealer wanted $500 for the entire real wiring harness, and claimed that it is not only a common problem, but buying the harness is the only cure. Rock auto had the parts for $6 each. Including a few watertight butt crimps added to the bill, the repair was under $20 bucks.

 It's nothing to find common wear parts are Rock Auto for 50-60% less than any local parts store, and there are often the vary same brand, or better.