The Service Engine Light: Your Mechanics Dirty Little Secret
Troubleshoot the Check Engine Light for Free
Even if you find a good mechanic, if you’re like me, you shiver at the thought of paying hundreds of dollars for major vehicle repairs. Well, the dreaded ‘service engine’ or ‘check engine’ light came on in our Pontiac Grand Am this past week. Even more, you dread paying $100 just to have your mechanic take a peek at your vehicle to tell you that nothing is wrong with it – but that’s what you get for being a responsible auto-owner. Or is it?
There is an alternative to those annoying ‘take a peek at it’ vehicle labor expenses. And it costs nothing. The service engine light comes on in your vehicle because the computer has diagnosed that something ain’t quite right. When the light comes on, a code is stored as the reason for triggering the light. When you take your car in to get it checked out, the mechanic hooks up a little diagnostic computer to your vehicle’s computer. They will then get a code and description that tells them what the issue is.
Check Engine Light: The Mechanics Dirty Little Secret
What your mechanic probably won’t tell you is that you really didn’t need to shell out $100 just for them to hook up their little machine to check on the service engine light. You can get that for free at most auto-parts stores. I’ve had this done at Napa and Advance Auto Parts. It costs nothing. The auto part stores carry these to cater to DIY’ers in hopes that they, in turn, buy the auto parts at their store to make the fix on their own. It takes them 1 minute to do this.
I was relieved to find out that the cause for the light to go on in my car was a possible vapor leak coming from my gas cap, caused by a weak spring in the cap. The gas cap costs $10. The store can also reset the computer so that if the problem persists, the light will come on again. If it doesn’t, problem fixed.
There probably are some honest mechanics out there who won’t charge you for this. But good luck finding one.
Oh – another thing – replace your car’s air filter on your own – it’s easy, and will save you a lot of money versus having a mechanic do it.
Check Engine Light Discussion:
- What clever techniques have you used to avoid vehicle service fees?
- How much were you charged to have your car ‘looked at’?