Why is my check engine (or Service Engine Soon) light on?

Not to be confused with some manufacturers “Maintenance Required” message, there are many reasons the check engine light(CEL or SES) may be on. With hundreds of generic OBD2 codes and even more manufacturer specific codes available, there are plenty of possibilities. The code(s) need to be “pulled” with a scan tool capable of reading both generic and specific codes. Then the problem needs to be diagnosed.

Once we have the code number(s), doesn’t that just tell you the problem and what to replace?

In nearly all cases, the code is just a starting point for diagnosis. There could be a number of problems causing a particular code to set, from the component affected, to wiring, a secondary issue, or even a computer problem.

Every once in awhile a certain code will only have one probable fix, in which case we will advise you and suggest that replacing the part is going to be more cost effective than confirming it with high certainty.

Do You charge a “diagnostic fee”, and what does that mean?

When there is a problem which requires testing of components or a system, then there is a cost to identify and confirm it. Diagnosing is an important part of our business. The tests that we perform will confirm, with as much certainty as possible, the root cause of your problem. This avoids repairing or replacing the wrong part, or leaving the problem un-resolved. You can think of it like an X-ray at the doctor’s office. The X-ray is the test that confirms your problem. The repair of that problem is a separate charge.

There are also times in the diagnostic process where the progression of problem solving is not possible without fixing one problem, knowing there may be another behind it. We are as thorough as possible throughout these situations and will keep you informed with our findings.

If a problem is obvious, or visible, then of course there is no charge for diagnosing (Example: A battery testing weak, a blown tire, a dirty air filter, a shredded serpentine belt, etc). We are not out to take advantage of you, and we use good judgement when we are in possession of your vehicle. I normally tell our customers that if we can figure it out in 15 minutes there is no fee.

My CEL came back on after the repair, what do I do?

This may be one of those unlikely situations where one problem leads to another. There are checks called “Emissions Monitors”, that need to pass before the car’s computers can say there are no problems found. Some of these checks can take a couple of days or around 100 miles of driving in order to run. Some will also not even try to run until another monitor has completed. Example: Code A turns check engine light on, Code B monitor will not run if Code A is set. Code A is repaired, car is driven, and now Code B monitor is able to run. A separate problem allows code B to now set.

In any case, the best plan of action is to call us to let us know what is happening, We will ask you to bring the vehicle back and read the code at no charge to you. If the code is the same as before, then We will not charge another fee to diagnose it.

I am having “X” problem or concern after a repair, what do I do?

Please do not hesitate to call us with any concern or question after a repair is complete. We try to be completely transparent with all of our customers, so if you have a question, please let us know and we will gladly discuss the logic behind our process.

How long until after a CEL is turned off can I get the vehicle inspection done?

Depending on the vehicle year, you are allowed to have two monitors incomplete or one monitor incomplete. The inspection station is unable to complete the emissions portion of the inspection if the criteria is not met and you will get a “not ready” failure. Running the required number of monitors is based on different manufacturer specified drive cycles. What this means to you is that it may take a couple of days or around 100 miles of driving to be ready for an inspection.