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Old 12-14-2005, 01:16 PM   #1 (Print)
choccy
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Angry My car has a check engine light!

In 125K miles my '99 Toyota Solara has run without issue.. but last night, the check engine light came on for the first time.

There's nothing obviously wrong, but it was quite a surprise to see the little light come on for the first time in it's little life

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:19 PM   #2 (Print)
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Could be the oxygen sensor, by far the most common reason that the CEL trips.

Carry it in to Autozone I believe they'll read the code for free.

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:19 PM   #3 (Print)
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Some auto parts stores (Advance does IIRC) have code readers and will tell you what the car thinks is wrong.

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:20 PM   #4 (Print)
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Well, this can be either inconsequential or really bad.

It would be really bad if Virginia's motor vehicle code requires that light be off at inspection. That means you would have to disconnect the battery terminals right before inspection so it turns off long enough for the car to get indspected. Or, you actually get it repaired and pay gobs of cash in most likely circumstances.

But, it could be inconsequential if there's no law regarding the light. Then again, driving with that thing blaring in your face is quite annoying.

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:22 PM   #5 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RegBarc
Well, this can be either inconsequential or really bad.

It would be really bad if Virginia's motor vehicle code requires that light be off at inspection. That means you would have to disconnect the battery terminals right before inspection so it turns off long enough for the car to get indspected. Or, you actually get it repaired and pay gobs of cash in most likely circumstances.

But, it could be inconsequential if there's no law regarding the light. Then again, driving with that thing blaring in your face is quite annoying.



There may be no requirement that the light be off during inspection, but the light on could be a symptom of some other problem which could cause you to fail an emissions inspection, I believe.

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:28 PM   #6 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raj
There may be no requirement that the light be off during inspection, but the light on could be a symptom of some other problem which could cause you to fail an emissions inspection, I believe.

Good point. I wonder how strict the emissions standards are in VA.

Of course, I live in PA which has some of the worst inspection standards in the country.

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:36 PM   #7 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RegBarc
Good point. I wonder how strict the emissions standards are in VA.


I live in Clarke County where emission inspections are not required. If my car was garaged about 500 ft east then it'd be in Loudoun and would require the emission inspection.

My state inspection is up this month - sucky timing!

BTW, it's not the gas cap. I'm *very* careful to make sure the cap is on, and on tight. Never ever have I forgotten the cap. Plus I hadn't gotten gas in several days

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:24 PM   #8 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RegBarc
Well, this can be either inconsequential or really bad.

It would be really bad if Virginia's motor vehicle code requires that light be off at inspection. That means you would have to disconnect the battery terminals right before inspection so it turns off long enough for the car to get indspected. Or, you actually get it repaired and pay gobs of cash in most likely circumstances.

But, it could be inconsequential if there's no law regarding the light. Then again, driving with that thing blaring in your face is quite annoying.

Actually OBDII has a "feature" where it knows when a battery was disconnected and some strict states scanners check to make sure that the battery hasnt' been disconnected in a certain amont of time like a week or a month or something.

So if you disconnect the battery just before going though the test, you will fail because the scanner will show battery recently disconnected.

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:27 PM   #9 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobotech
Actually OBDII has a "feature" where it knows when a battery was disconnected and some strict states scanners check to make sure that the battery hasnt' been disconnected in a certain amont of time like a week or a month or something.

So if you disconnect the battery just before going though the test, you will fail because the scanner will show battery recently disconnected.

In PA, we have only private mechanics do inspections (unlike across the river where it is state inspection sites only). Say, if I went to my family mechanic, and he didn't scan for the error code that wasn't showing up, wouldn't that work?

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:29 PM   #10 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RegBarc
In PA, we have only private mechanics do inspections (unlike across the river where it is state inspection sites only). Say, if I went to my family mechanic, and he didn't scan for the error code that wasn't showing up, wouldn't that work?


In NY we use private mechanics but they have to be certified by the state and they have computers which upload your OBDII data to the DMV.

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:31 PM   #11 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raj
In NY we use private mechanics but they have to be certified by the state and they have computers which upload your OBDII data to the DMV.
In PA, we have emissions inspections only in certain areas. I know Pittsburg and Philadelphia have emissions, and I am not sure about Wyoming/Lackawana vallies (like Scranton/Wilkes-Barre). But Pennsytuckey has no emissions at all. Their requirements are quite odd.

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:29 PM   #12 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RegBarc
In PA, we have only private mechanics do inspections (unlike across the river where it is state inspection sites only). Say, if I went to my family mechanic, and he didn't scan for the error code that wasn't showing up, wouldn't that work?

I really don't know. I just know I read about the "feature" of obdII that I listed above and was suprrised at how easy it would be to prevent people from trying to trick the system.

I'm assuming that its more of an issue in states which follow kommiefornia's extremely strict standards (i think CT is one of them) where you bring the car to a testing site run by the state.

I think the places that have local mechnics that test and pass cars would be much more forgiving.

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Old 12-23-2005, 08:40 PM   #13 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobotech
I'm assuming that its more of an issue in states which follow kommiefornia's extremely strict standards (i think CT is one of them) where you bring the car to a testing site run by the state.



CA no longer has state-run testing sites (gone for at least 10 years). The test sites are private, and they upload test info to the DMV. We require a treadmill and an exhaust sniffer test. If you have a CEL light lit you fail in CA. There is a several year exemption for new cars (at least 2 yr exemption).

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:20 PM   #14 (Print)
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yeah.. The drivers handbook/manual will usually say it's emmisions related. But one time, I had it come on, and it was a bad switch in the transmission selector.

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:22 PM   #15 (Print)
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It could be any of over 100 things, depending on the age of the car (with cars built after 1996 having more things than those built before). Get it tested, for free if possible. Sometimes the code will tell you exactly what it is, and sometimes there will be some diagnosis involved.

The easiest thing to fix is probably a loose or defective gas cap!

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:23 PM   #16 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodSpike
The easiest thing to fix is probably a loose or defective gas cap!



Completely forgot loose gas cap.

Some mfgs even have a TSB for this!

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:24 PM   #17 (Print)
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FYI a bad (or loose) gas cap can cause the light to come on (among the hundred other things).

<whoops, too slow typing>
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Old 12-14-2005, 01:27 PM   #18 (Print)
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Buy some tape and...

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:34 PM   #19 (Print)
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In Washington they don't connect up to your car's system, other than monitoring RPM during the test. Just an exhaust check, and a gas cap check.

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:40 PM   #20 (Print)
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I was thinking of getting one of these to check the error and reset the light myself, but, they are out of stock

ETA: This is cool! OBDII for your Palm!

ETA2: Awesome review of the Solara

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:43 PM   #21 (Print)
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In NY you require emissions after the car is 2 years old, only a safety inspection. I did mine a month before its 2 year anniversary so I won't have to pay $30 for an emissions test. Since Sep 04 it has been statewide and is the new OBDII test. Prior to that they just did a visual inspection and gas cap check.

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Old 12-23-2005, 07:55 PM   #22 (Print)
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That is a great idea. My car will be 2 years old in May. I will my second inspection done in April.



Quote:
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I did mine a month before its 2 year anniversary so I won't have to pay $30 for an emissions test.
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Old 12-14-2005, 01:47 PM   #23 (Print)
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That light is the way I know when my '93 Explorer needs another quart of oil, or it's been 3,000 miles.

-John
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Old 12-14-2005, 01:48 PM   #24 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnJr
That light is the way I know when my '93 Explorer needs another quart of oil, or it's been 3,000 miles.

-John


That would be a service light. I suspect it also has a check engine light. But maybe they are combined on some cars.

93 Explorers recommended oil changes at 3000 miles?

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:50 PM   #25 (Print)
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Quote:
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That light is the way I know when my '93 Explorer needs another quart of oil, or it's been 3,000 miles.

-John


Poor car.
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Old 12-14-2005, 01:52 PM   #26 (Print)
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Poor car.

Revenge...

Choccy, it is a check engine light... must be combined on mine, I guess.

-John
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Old 12-14-2005, 01:55 PM   #27 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnJr
Revenge...

Choccy, it is a check engine light... must be combined on mine, I guess.

-John



Yea, I could be wrong, but I don't think cars had 2 lights until OBDII. Your '93 pre-dates that.
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Old 12-14-2005, 01:57 PM   #28 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnJr
Revenge...

Choccy, it is a check engine light... must be combined on mine, I guess.


It's definitely a check engine light on my car. I've done a LOT more than 3,000 miles without getting a service before now for it to be that.. although, I am due. I guess I'll just have them check while I'm in for that, and have them turn it off.

I'm drooling over the AutoTap software, but at $199.. .

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Old 12-23-2005, 07:49 PM   #29 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choccy
It's definitely a check engine light on my car.

OK, here's what you do:
  1. Open the hood.
  2. Is the engine there? If so, done.
  3. If not, get a new engine
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Old 12-14-2005, 01:53 PM   #30 (Print)
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In NC, we have private mechanics but it is heavily regulated. The OBD II test does tell the computer if the car has had the battery dsiconnected and the car will not pass before certain parameters are met. It has to drive for a certain number of miles at low speed, a certain number above 45, stuff like that. Then they hook the computer up and the car pretty much rats itself out if it is out of compliance. For newer cars, I don't think they even do the tailpipe sniffer anymore.

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