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Check engine sign

 
 
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2006 06:25 am
Wellll, it seems i'm up a shite creek again. I am moving from Vienna today - car fully loaded and ready to go....and the damn check engine sign comes on.
Car was stuttering somewhat on a few occasions - always in stop and go traffic, and gas pedal was loose - I had to upshift and downshift a few times before the pedal would react.... Happened before, mechanic tightened the little white circle that controls the rope from the gas pedal, but it happened again twice. This time with the perk of check engine sign. Which leads me to think it's perhaps more serious than we thought. I mean, last time when this sign came on on my Honda, the car was dead within a few days. Cooked itself somehow.
But. I'm in Vienna, I have to go today - my lease is up, service here is way more expensive and our insurance wouldn't cover it probably. Plus it's my parents' 35th wedding anniversary tonight and I need to make it home by the evening. Home is an hour away, just a hop across the border, in Bratislava. Will the car make it? It's driving fine, not stuttering, oil not hot, not steaming from the engine, nothing. Just that sign is worrying me too much. I'd bring it to my repairguy right away-- but can I take the risk of driving for an hour with that sign on?
It's a Fiat Marea if that helps any. I tried to pry the hood open to look at the level of coolant (I checked oil a week ago) - but didn't succeed, somehow the thingamajig that pulls the hood open is stuck.

Signed,
A blonde female driver from Eastern Europe.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 8,500 • Replies: 24
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Lord Ellpus
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2006 07:13 am
Wow! Life is never dull for you, is it Dag!

Have you taken a look at the owners handbook to see what the warning light could mean?

IF the engine seems to be running OK and the water oil levels/temps seem normal, I would imagine that it would be OK to drive, if you keep your speed/revs down to that of a vicar's wife, out for a sunday drive.

Why not try pulling into a garage, looking all helpless (sad tale telling how you don't want to let your parents down on such a special day....etc) ....do a lot of fluttering of the eyelids and ask their advice.

If I lived locally, I would certainly have a go at opening your thingy, and offering a thorough service.

I hope it all works out OK for you.


PS.....take a large bottle of water with you, and a spare litre of oil, just in case.
0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2006 07:34 am
Re: Check engine sign
Check engine lights 99 times out of a hundred indicate a dying oxygen sensor which is more of a problem for the outside air than for the car. Your real mechanical problems are in all likelihood not related to the check engine light.
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2006 08:28 am
hmmm, great, thank you boyz, that sounds promising. i called my main man - as in the main mechanic- and he says i should be ok to drive home for an hour. the car is handling fine today, was stuttering somewhat yesterday in a stop and go traffic and the gas pedal was acting up, but he's convinced that's just loosened and i know where to tighten it (would know if i could get the damn hood open).
i will pull in a gas station when i head off and try the helpless blonde foreigner girl trick. that has worked without fault every time so far, even for speeding tickets and taking wrong turns... i highly recommend it to everyone.
oil/coolant/other liquids levels should be fine though, car just had a 50,000 mile general checkup, oil change, etc... maybe it's been choking on something and is just getting over it. the man said the light may just be a faded memory of some problem from the distant past...don't we all have them. pray for me in couple of hours, i have all my earthly posessions piled up in that car. if a heathen, at least spit three times over your shoulder.
0 Replies
 
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2006 07:09 pm
If you only drive short distances for work or shopping there is a tendency for the engine to build up carbon. You need to go on the highway and ride it fast for an hour once a month to burn up the carbon. The carbon 'build up' clogs up the whole works and you could end up replacing all kinds of things. Very expensive.
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2006 08:35 pm
Now, if it is the oxygen sensor dying, it's not an immediate crisis, but needs to be fixed. It can cause the catalytic convertor (I assume you have one) to become overloaded. This can actually shut the car down if it becomes clogged. Not, however, in an hour or two of driving.
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parados
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2006 08:46 pm
Another common reason for check engine lights is a loose gas cap.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2006 08:52 pm
I've heard that.

Actually, when I lost the catalytic converter and O2 sensor, I didn't get a warning light at all.
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talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2006 11:07 pm
My 'check' engine cause was the pcv filter needed to be replaced. It could be any number of things regarding fuel gas mixture all down the line..
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Feb, 2006 07:17 am
well, the car is at the doctor's now. i made it safely and soundly, though the gas pedal was still kinda funky. it's probably related in one way or another.

and now, because i'm an idiot, i'm going back to vienna. i forgot the power cord from my computer in my office... <^&^%&!!!!>
0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Feb, 2006 07:23 am
roger wrote:
Now, if it is the oxygen sensor dying, it's not an immediate crisis, but needs to be fixed. It can cause the catalytic convertor (I assume you have one) to become overloaded. This can actually shut the car down if it becomes clogged. Not, however, in an hour or two of driving.


People go for years driving with check-engine lights on. In fact some unscrupulous used car dealers simply fix the problem by removing the light. The only thing it MIGHT effect as far as economics goes is gas mileage. Other than that, it's a green issue.
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Feb, 2006 11:17 am
hmmm, dunno. my car mechanic told me to pull into the first service shop when the check engine light comes on, as it can be a sign of something very wrong. and, since my last car died just a few days after that light came on, i'm thinking that perhaps he was onto something. at least for us mortals that know little about cars.
0 Replies
 
Pitter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Feb, 2006 08:18 pm
Is this a Trabant?
0 Replies
 
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Feb, 2006 12:39 am
Dag, if you live in Salzburg there is a Sound Of Music Museum opening in 2007and there will be a horde of SOM fans attending the first week of the Opening as all the 'kids' actors now in their 40-60 age group will be there as well as Julie Andrews.

Go to Sound o fMusic Message Board

You could make a few bucks renting out rooms and giving rides as well as showing the fans the SOM sites such as Mirabell Gardens.
0 Replies
 
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Feb, 2006 12:41 am
CHECK ENGINE LIGHT

Definition: A warning light that comes on if the computerized engine control system detects an engine performance or emissions problem. Also called the "malfunction indicator lamp" (MIL). To determine the nature of the problem, the computer system must be accessed to read a fault code (see Diagnostic Trouble Code).

Check Engine light
0 Replies
 
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Feb, 2006 12:44 am
Check Engine, Service Engine Soon light, OBD II engine trouble codes
Please note that information below is not directions for a repair. I only tried to give you basic idea about what's behind the "check engine" light. Quality repair is only possible by a skilled mechanic. Don't try to repair anything by yourself if you are not sure what to do - a car could be unsafe if repaired improperly. Take your car to a dealer or a service shop. If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me. Vlad Samarin
Why my Check Engine light comes on?

All modern vehicles have a computer or ECM (Electronic Control Module) that controls the engine operation. The main purpose of this is to keep the engine running at top efficiency with the lowest possible emissions. With today's strictest emission regulations it's not very easy to achieve - the engine needs to be constantly and precisely adjusted according to various conditions such as speed, load, engine temperature, gasoline quality, ambient air temperature, road conditions, etc.
How it works:
There is number of sensors that provide the ECM with all necessary inputs such as the engine temperature, ambient temperature, vehicle speed, load, etc. According to these inputs, the ECM makes initial adjustments adding or subtracting fuel, advancing or retarding the ignition timing, increasing or decreasing idle speed, etc.
There is a primary (upstream) oxygen sensor installed in the exhaust before catalytic converter that monitors the quality of combustion in the cylinders. Based on the feedback from this oxygen sensor the ECM makes fine adjustment to the air-fuel mixture to further reduce emissions.
There is another, secondary (downstream) oxygen sensor installed after catalytic converter in the exhaust that monitors catalytic converter's efficiency.
Besides, there are few additional emission control related vehicle systems. For example, there is an Evaporative system (EVAP), designed to prevent gasoline vapors from the gas tank from being released into the atmosphere. It also contains number of sensors and actuators controlled by the ECM.
The ECM has self-diagnostic capability and constantly tests operation of sensors and other components. When any of the sensor signals is missing or out of normal range, the ECM sets a fault and illuminates the "Check Engine" or "Service Engine Soon" light also called MIL (Malfunction Indication Light) storing the corresponding Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) in the ECM memory.
The same will happen if a mechanical component of controlled system fails.
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For example, if the EGR valve fails, this will also cause the "check engine" light to come on. Even a loose gas cap will cause the "check engine" to come on.
The stored trouble code can be retrieved with the special scan tool by the technician. The code itself does not tell exactly what part to replace, it only gives a direction where to look for - the technician has to perform certain tests specific for each code to find the exact cause of the problem.
Q: What to do if my "check engine" light is on?

A: The simplest way is to visit your local dealer for proper diagnostic. They have all the equipment and information needed to correct the problem. The problem might be even covered by the manufacturers warranty and repaired free of charge.
Q: Is it safe to drive if my check engine light is on?

A: It really depends what code is stored and what caused it. In worst cases driving with check engine light may cause more damage to the vehicle. A car may even stall while driving. If your check engine light came on, I'd certainly recommend to visit your dealer or a mechanic as soon as possible, just to be on a safe side.
Q: Will disconnecting the battery reset check engine light?

A: Disconnecting the battery might reset the check engine light on some cars. However, instead of doing so, I recommend to bring your car to a dealer for a proper diagnostic, and here is why:
- not all cars will clear the code after disconnecting the battery
- often, the problem may be actually covered by the warranty and repaired free of charge by your dealer. For example, if you have the code P0420 - Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold it's very possible that your catalytic converter is still covered by the original emission warranty and might be replaced free of charge (would cost you close to $1000 otherwise).
- some problems, if not repaired in time may cause a serious damage and more costly repair.
- disconnecting the battery will cause many other basic settings of the vehicle's computer to be erased (e.g. idle settings, fuel trim settings, transmission shift points, etc.)
- the Readiness code will be erased, which may prevent your car from completing an emissions test. (Readiness code is an indication that certain emission control components have been tested)
- the radio, if code-protected, may be locked after disconnecting the battery
- the "check engine" light will come back anyway if the problem still exist.

Q: can I pull the "check engine" code myself?

A: Having an appropriate scan tool or software and some technical knowledge it's not so difficult to pull stored trouble code.
OBD II connector located on the driver's side under the dashboard
It was quite difficult before, since each car manufacturer had different code assignment and different diagnostic connectors and protocols. Luckily, In 1996 in the United States, a Federal Law came into force requiring all US-sold cars to be OBDII (the On Board Diagnostics system version 2) compliant. This means that all cars from 1996 on must be able to be diagnosed with generic OBDII scanner. The diagnostic connector (the picture) is identical on all OBD II cars as well as its location - somewhere around the driver's place. Usually, on the left side under the dashboard. There is a number of scan tools and software available (see links below). However, the code itself does not tell exactly what part to replace. For example, the code P0401 reads "insufficient EGR system flow", but it could be a bad EGR valve, clogged EGR passage or, for example, a faulty DPFE sensor (Ford F150 common problem) - there is a specific test procedure to be performed to pinpoint the problem part. Where to find specific test procedure - read below.
Q: My car has the code P0133, how can I clear it?

A: Code P0133 reads "Bank 1 Sensor 1 circuit slow response"; meaning the front oxygen sensor (located before catalytic converter) has slow response time to the changes in the air-fuel mixture.
Unless there is a problem in the wiring or an exhaust leak, replacing the oxygen sensor most likely will fix the problem. Visit your local dealer for the proper repair.
Q: What does the code P0102 mean?

A: The code P0102 reads "Mass air flow circuit low input". There is a certain procedure to test Mas Air Flow sensor (MAF) for proper operation. When you bring your car to a dealer, they will perform this procedure to check if the sensor is faulty. Mass Air Flow sensor failure is very common.
Q: I have Ford F 150 with codes P0171 and P0174, is it the O2 sensor?

A: Code P0171 reads "System too lean (Bank 1)" and code P0174 reads "System too lean (Bank 2)" What it means is that the engine is running lean. There are many possible problems that may cause the air-fuel mixture to be lean: Defective or contaminated airflow sensor, intake vacuum leak, dirty fuel filter, etc. There are certain tests to be performed to find the exact cause of the problem. Common problems with Ford engines are defective airflow sensors and vacuum leaks. As of my knowledge, Ford issued Technical Service Bulletin on this problem, you can check it at Alldata DIY.
I'd suggest to visit your local Ford dealer, they will be able to repair the problem properly.
Where to find specific trouble codes and test procedure

There is a website that for a fairly small fee provides instant access to vehicle-specific repair manual. It's called Alldata DIY - I use it quite often and found it very helpful. Besides "Check engine" trouble codes and corresponding test procedure, it also contains all kinds of diagrams (vacuum diagrams, serpentine belt diagrams, wiring diagrams, etc.), repair instructions, specifications, fluid types, maintenance schedule, component location, and a lot more. You also can find recalls, service bulletins, price for certain parts and labor, and information about how certain vehicle component or system operates. It's very similar to the information system the car dealers use. Whether you have your own small auto repair shop or Do-It-Yourself minded the information they provide would be equally useful.
For more details follow this link: Where to get auto repair manual?

Where can I buy an OBD II scan tool or software

There are many different scan tools and software available on the Internet, from simple OBD II code readers to sophisticated scan tools.
For example:
OBD-2.com - OBD 2 software that turns your PC into scan tool. I tried, works well.


Check engine
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Feb, 2006 04:57 am
it turned out to be some lambda sensor, it was clogged or something, all it needed was some cleaning. hmmm. hope that solves the gas pedal issue as well...?
0 Replies
 
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2006 01:35 am
Cross your fingers. Hmmm, your avatar gives me the creeps. It resembles a psychic or gypsy fortune teller.
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2006 05:48 am
nah, it's me, as a 'Boo', from a halloween party. littlek spiced the pic up with fires in the background, and jpin made them spin around.
0 Replies
 
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2006 11:23 am
Then you are spooky.
0 Replies
 
 

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