Car Checkups

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Check engine/Service engine soon light

All cars built after 1995 are required to have a light on the dash that illuminates when there is a problem with the engine that could affect emissions performance.  Officially known as a Malfunction Indicator Light or MIL for short, the “check engine” light is a valuable tool for helping drivers keep their cars maintained correctly.  It works like this:  Your vehicle’s onboard computer takes input data from a variety of sensors.  When one of those sensors either fails or reports data that the computer doesn’t expect, the computer turns on the MIL light and stores a reference number called a “code” for the technician to read later.  Sometimes the fault is obvious, but frequently the question becomes “Is it the sensor, the engine, the wire, or the computer that’s actually the problem?”  A common example of this is the code for a faulty oxygen sensor.  The code definition stated that the oxygen sensor was reading low, so one might be tempted to replace the oxygen sensor.  In reality, however, the sensor was telling the truth – there wasn’t enough oxygen in the exhaust stream because the air pump wasn’t working.  The problem lay with the air pump, not the oxygen sensor.

As a Washington State Certified Emissions Repair Station, we at Cheers are very familiar with the computer controlled engine management systems on modern cars.  If your check engine light is on, let us read the codes off your vehicle’s computer and give you a solid estimate for a repair.  We are interested in keeping your car running at its best and cleanest!