Has this happened to you?
I recently had my service engine soon light come on. Nothing can quite compare for me, to the feeling of angst that occurs when this happens. I am always struck with a sense of concern about whether the issue is serious or not. I hate the feeling that I might be taken advantage of by an un-ethical mechanic or service shop.
Here are a few pointers that I learned along the way on my recent “service engine soon” adventure!
Lessons learned – Pointers
So what should you do the next time this happens to you.
1 – Don’t feel like you’re at the mercy of a mechanic.
I remembered when this happened recently that AutoZone has a free check engine service that they will perform for you. I’ve found them to be extremely friendly and helpful. They have facilities which are open 24 hours a day so you should be able to find one near you which can accommodate you even if you work odd hours.
2 – Get a test run first even if you end up having the repairs done by a service facility
If you’re anything like me, you like having as much information as possible before going in to a service location / mechanic. Having the information provided through the AutoZone check enabled me in this particular instance to perform a relatively minor service myself. When you consider the hourly rate of mechanics these days (at least $70 – $90 per hour) then the effort is many times well worth it. I don’t know about you, but that’s more per hour than I make!
So how did my story end???
I stopped by my local AutoZone and had them run the diagnostic check. Turns out that I had a bad mass airflow sensor. The new sensor ran me just over $100 and took me about 90 minutes to complete the job. That time by the way included a trip back to AutoZone to borrow a tamper proof star screwdriver to remove the old sensor.
If you didn’t know it already, AutoZone offers a free tool loaner program. In my case, I had to run back to AutoZone once I got the air cleaner assembly removed from my engine which provided access to the mass airflow sensor. I just carried the assembly back in to AutoZone and they let me borrow the required screw driver to remove the old sensor and install the new one.
One last pointer – removing the negative battery cable from your battery will reset the service engine soon lamp.
Once I replaced the sensor, the service engine soon light was still on. I learned from the helpful clerk at AutoZone that if you remove the negative battery cable from the battery and leave it off for about 60 seconds that the computer resets the light. Once you put the battery cable back in place and run the car again,… if the problem hasn’t been resolved,… the light will come back on. In my instance,… the problem was resolved and I was back in business.
I hope my experience will help you should you encounter a “service engine soon” illuminating for you on your way home.
IT MAY BE YOUR GAS CAP!
Another very common cause for Check Engine Soon lights to come on is your gas cap. Over time gas caps can become worn and don’t seal properly. If your onboard computer senses that your gas cap isn’t doing its job – your light can come on also. Double check that your gas cap is in place and that it is on tightly. The guys at AutoZone should be able to tell you if it’s just a gas cap that’s causing your problem. A gas cap purchase after a free checkout from AutoZone is probably MUCH less money than a trip to your dealership.