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Common Questions About Check Engine Lights

Check Engine Lights – and other dash lights such as your ABS Anti-lock Brake System, Traction Control, TPM Tire Pressure Monitor, Stability Control indicate a malfunction in complicated systems and can be confusing to motorists. You can count on our dedicated staff to help you understand exactly what is happening with your vehicle, and of course, what you need to have done to correct the situation.

Can I drive my car with the check engine light on?    If the light is amber in color and staying on constantly or coming on for intervals and turning off part of the time you are safe to drive your vehicle for a reasonable amount of time. If the Check engine light is flashing STOP DRIVING as soon as it is safe to do so! A flashing Check Engine Light indicates that there is misfire that is significant enough to cause damage to other components, including your very expensive catalytic converter.

Check engine lights typically come on due to emissions issues that are not urgent. Now, that does not mean that you should ignore them. The computer system in your vehicle communicates with a myriad of different components. When one is operating outside of its normal range it may turn on your check engine light. When one component in this complex system malfunctions it causes the system to compensate. Driving too long can make the situation worse.

How much does it cost to hook up that machine that tells you what is wrong with my car?     It does not cost anything to pull the codes from your vehicle. When the Check engine light comes on it typically stores numbered codes in your car’s computer that gives a technician information about what is malfunctioning. These codes will indicate one or more systems in your vehicle that are having problems.

The codes and the machines that pull them are not as magical as we wish they could be.

Once a qualified technician has these numbered codes he consults several repair information resources to determine what the diagnostic procedures will be for the problem that your vehicle is presenting. Diagnostic procedures are sometimes really simple. However, most of the time technicians spend considerable time going through diagnostic trees (flow charts of tests) that work through the many different possible wires, connectors, and components that make up the system that the code indicated was sick.

Complimentary Code Scan Service

The Complimentary Code Scan Service really is completely FREE and our diagnostic testing services start as low as $55.

So, how much does Diagnostic Testing cost?      Normally just $99. Once the codes are determined, the diagnostic testing on most vehicles usually takes the technician between 30 minutes to two hours. The time varies depending on the system that is malfunctioning. We charge you a flat fee of $99 for this testing. This covers a very complex set of diagnostic procedures. There are rare instances that testing is needed above and beyond this. If there is a need to do so, you will get a phone call with an explanation before we go past the initial testing and charge. Some reasons that we might need to charge more would be if there is extensive wiring to be traced for problems or an evaporative emissions leak that requires smoke testing. We will never exceed the $99 testing fee without your approval.

If the testing only takes a couple hours, why do you need my car for so long?      When you drop off your vehicle our service advisors will visit with you about the symptoms and concerns that you have. They will enter your information into our system including your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). They will gather together the information and paper work that the technician needs to begin his process. The technician may be finishing up a vehicle or test driving the car he was working on before yours. After placing floor mats and any necessary protective covers the technician always starts by test driving your vehicle (as long as it is safe to drive).  Once he has “Pulled the codes” he will spend time researching the system, analyzing the code or codes, checking for Technical Service Bulletins and Recalls that the manufacturer may have released, and printing wiring or diagnostic diagrams. Now he’s headed back into the garage to perform the tests your vehicle needs to find and confirm your vehicle’s problem.

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