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Check Engine

March 12, 2008

On my way home from work tonight (at 8:30 due to my class) my check engine light popped on. It has been awhile since my car has needed repair (brakes in the late summer for about $300) so I suppose it is due for repair.

I hate dealing with this kind of crap. My dad took car of any car issues for me through college, and it has been a pain to deal with this stuff on my own now that I’m in the “real world” and a zillion miles away. T is quasi-helpful and knows a thing or two about cars, but not enough to actually repair it or anything. He doesn’t have a car here, so it isn’t as though he can recommend me a trusty mechanic. Besides, he is completely buried in finals this week. I hate to be all girly about it, but I’m simply not interested in cars and never want to be.

My first step is to take it to Autozone to see what “Check Engine” means for free. Last time it meant the gas cap wasn’t screwed on tightly! I hope I’m so lucky this time.   Still, there could be a problem (gas cap seems secure), so then I’ll have to deal with the mess of finding a mechanic to work on it. I really don’t believe in taking it to the dealer–much more expensive. Ug.

Regardless, I’m glad I have an emergency fund.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2008 5:27 am

    I strongly recommend taking a basic auto mechanics class (available at community colleges, universities, and sometimes vocational schools). I had a car that was always acting up, and took the class mainly to see if I could do some of the work to it myself.

    I wound up REALLY enjoying the class, learned how to keep the car in excellent shape, and–an unexpected bonus–stopped getting ripped off at the shop whenever I had to take it in after that class. I knew enough about how cars worked and what maintenance had been done and when that I was able to tell which “necessary” repairs really were necessary. I saved a lot of money as a result of that class, and I didn’t have to get my hands dirty for all of it.

  2. March 13, 2008 7:31 am

    Call AutoZone before you drive out to see if they do it. Or try another car parts shop (like Murray’s). Some say they charge $20 or so, but usually they won’t charge you when you get there.

    I thought about taking a car repair class like Little Miss Moneybags mentioned, but I don’t have the time with my second job (and it was kinda expensive). However, I’ve learned a lot from just going to a car parts shop and asking questions. I’ve been able to change my own oil, battery, air filter (I use a K&N one and my gas mileage has improved), and wind shield wipers. With a little help from the manual, I can check fuses and have replaced a few. I think the class would be awesome, but it isn’t the worst idea to get to know your car if a class is not an option.

  3. March 13, 2008 2:25 pm

    If you have a newer car, it could be something as simple as the gas cap. If it’s not on tight enough, the check engine light will come on sometimes. I used to work for a car rental company and we always had people call in saying that their check engine light came on and our first question would always be “did you just get gas?” Nine times out of ten that would solve it once they tightened the cap. Something about the cap not being tightened in relation to tire pressure or something like that? I don’t know, but with newer cars this is a common problem.

  4. sjean permalink*
    March 13, 2008 2:31 pm

    Thanks! I’m aware that the gas cap is a common problem. In fact, that happened to me before. I got gas 40 miles before the light came on. So it is possible. I tightened it. Sometimes you have to get the code read to “clear” it. My car isn’t newer… but….

    I tightened the cap, and I’ll get the code read at autozone (i called, they read them for free)… and if I”m fortunate, that will solve the problem.


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