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GasBuddy News Article

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Check engine light on? Find out whats wrong, free!

GasBuddy Blog -- Perhaps millions of motorists are driving across the United States and Canada with a bright yellow light illuminated on their dashboard warning them to check their engine. What's the light mean? It could mean hundreds of different things, but thanks to code scanners that are free at many auto shops, you can find the code and understand the problem.

As I arrived home for the Labor Day weekend and I began striking up conversations with my family, my dad had told me his check engine light was on just a few days after leaving the local Mazda dealership in Grandville, Michigan. I suppose it was a good thing that I come from an auto background and own my own code scanner. A code scanner plugs into a vehicle's diagnosis port, called On Board...


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Submitted Sep 11, 2012 By: PD
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Author Topic: Check engine light on? Find out whats wrong, free! Back to Topics
REPLIES (newest first) Post a Reply
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Snowchoux
Champion Author Missouri

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Message Posted: Sep 26, 2012 3:39:00 PM

Just take the fuse out.
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pricewar
Champion Author Ogden

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Message Posted: Sep 25, 2012 11:38:27 PM

oh is that what that means. i check the engine and it was still there,
looked ok. thought the light was cool looking

[Edited by: pricewar at 9/26/2012 12:39:42 AM EST]
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dcone2
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Sep 25, 2012 6:43:42 PM

ok
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bull2010
Sophomore Author Houston

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Message Posted: Sep 25, 2012 6:08:24 PM

oreilly auto parts has them & is also free.
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clpassenubye
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Sep 25, 2012 11:17:10 AM

good info
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pricewar
Champion Author Ogden

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Message Posted: Sep 22, 2012 1:32:01 AM

Sometimes it can be a few things. Particulary if you drive around
With the light on for a few months. Soon you will be an expert on code
Reading
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honeyb817
Rookie Author Fort Worth

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Message Posted: Sep 19, 2012 2:54:26 AM

Youtube
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Bookieecon
Veteran Author Georgia

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Message Posted: Sep 18, 2012 5:10:01 PM

Any auto parts store will be glad to check it for you.Warning! The clerk behind the counter is not a ASE certified mechanic, once they check the engine code; the clerk's sole purpose is to encourage you to buy a part to fix it. Don't buy anything if you don't feel 100% it will fix the problem. The code reader is like getting your vital signs read at the doctor's office before you see the doctor. Get a copy of your codes and go see a mechanic of your choice. You could spend hundreds of dollars trying to fix it yourself when it could be $2.00 worth of vacuum hose. Remember, the OBD-2 light is an indication that your sensors are detecting something wrong with the fuel and emission control system. This can also indicate a mechanical issue. OBD-1 readers for models earlier than 96 are available at most of the auto parts stores depending on year and/or you can order them online. Always get a second opinion. Your wallet depends on it.
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clpassenubye
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Sep 18, 2012 1:09:40 PM

great for them
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alphanyr
Champion Author Connecticut

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Message Posted: Sep 17, 2012 10:15:23 AM

no
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MrPony
All-Star Author North Carolina

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Message Posted: Sep 16, 2012 4:38:34 PM

How do you find these free places to explain the codes. My station will do a check but it's $25 normally.
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albert2008
Champion Author Winnipeg

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Message Posted: Sep 16, 2012 11:54:10 AM

theres always a reason
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albert2008
Champion Author Winnipeg

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Message Posted: Sep 15, 2012 10:39:26 AM

should check it out
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Donatelo
Champion Author Dayton

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Message Posted: Sep 15, 2012 9:27:46 AM

ok
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honda0105
Champion Author Tallahassee

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Message Posted: Sep 14, 2012 11:14:29 PM

surprised so many ppl don't know about OBD readers. Wowser.

[Edited by: honda0105 at 9/15/2012 12:15:21 AM EST]
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Ann1962
Champion Author Denver

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Message Posted: Sep 14, 2012 10:08:51 AM

that would be handy to have
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JCClark2012
Champion Author New Hampshire

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Message Posted: Sep 14, 2012 2:54:34 AM

How much?
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honda0105
Champion Author Tallahassee

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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2012 11:28:43 PM

gaskater: about 200 for the better ones.

But it only works if you have an OBD-2 system. I have an older truck... OBD-1 is no longer sold in most places (and non-dealership repair places often no longer carry them either).
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gaskater
Champion Author California

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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2012 5:49:45 PM

how much is a new scanner?
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Gma02
Rookie Author Fort Wayne

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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2012 12:36:02 PM

My check engine light came on when I did not have the gas cap tightened all the way
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mrjames1818
Champion Author New Jersey

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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2012 5:23:44 AM

Auto parts stores will do it for free so will Aamco Transmissions. Meineke muffler wants $90 - for that price I can buy my own scanner.
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mrjames1818
Champion Author New Jersey

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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2012 5:23:29 AM

Auto parts stores will do it for free so will Aamco Transmissions. Meineke muffler wants $90 - for that price I can buy my own scanner.
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Cheepo
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 6:20:50 PM

My check engine light is on for more than 2 years, no problem!!!!!!!!
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garywa01
Sophomore Author Alberta

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 4:38:09 PM

good information
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GatorGuy
Champion Author Columbia

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 4:15:49 PM

Some cars will also tell you the code by turning the key on/off 3 times.
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nickatnite
Veteran Author Indianapolis

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 2:40:35 PM

This is very good info.
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jpj23
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 2:25:28 PM

You don't necessarily need to go to an auto shop to use a scanner. You can buy one on eBay or elsewhere through the Internet.
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nru
Champion Author Twin Cities

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 2:24:31 PM

Any auto parts shop will lend you a scanner and you can do it for free.
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mdskier
Champion Author Sacramento

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 2:14:11 PM

My wife's Saturn's "check engine" light was on for 5 years till we
got rid of the car. A shop replaced computer boards -no help. The
dealer says throw $3000 at us and we will open the transmission.

Since the transmission was acting perfectly normal we put black tape over
the "Check Engine" light for 5 years. No troubles followed.
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mdskier
Champion Author Sacramento

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 2:09:03 PM

Just before a drive from Maryland to Colorado in a Prius my
"Maintenance Required" idiot light came on.

The Toyota Dealer had just changed the oil and forgot to reset the light
(as it did not light till 50 mi later) I found directions online and reset
the light myself. All was fine during the long drive.

"Check Engine" often means check emission controls for some trivial
problem.
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ace12012
Champion Author Phoenix

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 2:04:33 PM

wonder how many check engine lights are being ignored right now.
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twinfanMN
Champion Author Minnesota

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 2:02:17 PM

My check engine light has been on for a 150,000 miles. I got it fixed once and it came back on a couple of weeks later so I said the heck with it.

[Edited by: twinfanMN at 9/12/2012 3:02:51 PM EST]
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wild3bill
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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:57:56 PM

For many simple issues the MIL= Malfunction Indicator Light is supposed to go out if the problem does not reoccur in several cycles of start run, shut-off.Other codes need to be reset with a scanner.I reset one before inspection of my 97 Diesel pickup several years ago.I don't remember and the light stayed out.The service soon light came on in my 2911 BMW on the way home from service Oil change and State inspection. It went out by itself a day or two later before I had a chance to schedult another visit to bthe dealer.I know the dealer had to hook up to tell the On Board Computer Oil was changed and State inspection done.I assume the dealer's mechanic may have touched something triggering a false alarm while inspecting or oil-changing.The light went out by itself so I am no longer worried..With the computers in my BMW, They SHOULD be able to decode the error code into German, English, French, etc.But they like to get me in there to sell me some Non-covered service like changing the air in the tires to Nitrogen, snaking the drains of the Sun roof ;-}
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DeeLA
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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:53:07 PM

Thanks, good to know.
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bbthegun
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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:44:54 PM

ZeroBoxes - funny!
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1Casey
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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:43:06 PM

o.k.
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ZeroBoxes
Champion Author Mississippi

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:42:28 PM

Hmmm...now i'm confused...I drive a Chevy and my engine-light-on code translated into: "buy a FORD!".....:)
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timesaverinc
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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:42:26 PM

Everybody knows that
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manbig13
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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:40:54 PM

old
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Ken2OD
Champion Author Grand Rapids

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:40:21 PM

My check engine light always costs me more money.
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Discovery02
Champion Author Colorado Springs

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:39:30 PM

Good info...didn't know that. I'll keep Auto Zone and the others in mind next time the Check Engine Light comes on.
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dougtaylor1
Champion Author Phoenix

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:38:54 PM

Usually very un-important, but if you let it go it could turn into a big problem.
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MRHONEST
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:37:32 PM

I drove with my light on forever!
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srchr
Champion Author San Jose

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:36:05 PM

code scanners started in the mid 80's with the availability of tiny computer chips - microprocessors. each mfgr had their own unpublished proprietary codes and readers that the dealers used. auto buffs passed around copies of typewritten sheets with codes they had managed to get from friends in the auto industry or had figured out by trial and error. there was some standardization with OBDI but the current full set of codes and common connector wasn't standardized until OBDII in 1996.

my low end 2007 ford focus doesn't have all the neat readouts built into more expensive car models (instantaneous and average mpg, engine rpm, gph, intake temperature etc, plus error codes) so i bought a little OBDII scanner that displays 4 readouts simultaneously and mounts nicely just above the steering wheel column - about $180.
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99church
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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:34:00 PM

good article
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wshutton
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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:32:55 PM

K
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firefly09
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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:32:50 PM

Interesting.
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fowlcan
Champion Author Oklahoma City

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:32:04 PM

I have used AutoZone several times to diagnose the issue. They also sell the common parts.
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suzyq2007
Champion Author Dallas

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:31:32 PM

this is why I really do not trust them
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Settjec
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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2012 1:25:03 PM

Great article.
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