Tune up question

chrislyonsFebruary 24, 2010

My check engine light has come on and turned off multiple times in the past couple of months. I took it in and they ran a test and said it was nothing serious, it just needed a tune up. I have to drive about 700 miles this weekend and can't get my car into get a tune up in time nor do I have the money yet. Is that a huge problem or can I drive? I'm terrible at car knowledge

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exgm

Did you get any specific information from the testing facility as to what the "nothing serious" actually was?

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 8:42PM
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john_g

Don't be apologetic for your level of knowledge about cars, they are the most complicated machines that anyone could ever expect to own. Top technicians around the country have to get constantly updated training to even attempt to keep up.

A Check Engine light essentially means that a failure is occurring on the car that would cause it to fail at 1.5 times what the car scored during it's FTP test. Hard component or wiring failures, which relate to sensors such as the TPS (throttle position sensor), MAF (Mass Air-Flow Sensor) and others cause the lamp to light immediately, and if the problem corrects as many intermittents do, the lamp goes back out while leaving the trouble code in the computers memory. There are other sets of codes related to the O2 sensors, and catalytic converter (and others) that take specific conditions for the on-board tests to run, and have to fail these tests two times in a row to turn the light on. Consequently if they are intermittent failures, they also take two sets of tests that pass in a row to make the lamp go back out.

Suggesting a "Tune-Up", which BTW is a phrase I restrain from using leaves the impression that the engine is misfiring at times. The missfire could be related to the secondary (high voltage) portions of the ignition system, which is generally plugs, wires and occasionally the coil(s) as would be the case with the Honda post from the other day. However the missfire could also be related to fuel control issues, and even engine mechanical issues, and it takes competent and complete testing to determine the source, or sources.

The big problem about a missfire is you are putting raw fuel and air into the exhaust when the missfire occurs, and the catalytic converter is forced to clean that up which typically can cause it to overheat and fail if that is allowed to occur long enough. A flashing check engine light indicates the computer has detected enough of a missfire that damage to the converters is likely occurring. On some cars, catalyst damage can cost more than $1000.00 to repair, and it can happen because someone didn't replaced the spark plus and wires when they should have.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 8:51AM
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