Topic Author
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"Check Engine" Light?

Mon Mar 04, 2002 6:56 pm

Well I tried posting this on MotorCities.com but it didn't work, but there's quite a few car buffs here so I'll give it a shot:

I own a '91 Ford Ranger XLT with the 4.0L V6 EFI 5 speed manual.

Lately once in awhile my "Check Engine" light will come on for a bit and then go off. What exactly does "Check Engine" mean? Could they be more vague? It's also a yellow light and not a red one. I'm not a mechanic or anything, I know more than the average schmuck about cars but I've never seen a warning light that just says "Check Engine"

My truck is in excellent condition so I doubt it is anything major.

Is this just a "time for a tune-up" warning? Or should I be seriously concerned?

Thanks in advance!!

from YYC

RE: "Check Engine" Light?

Mon Mar 04, 2002 7:07 pm

I think it mostly covers several kind of emissions things. Are you burning alot of oil?
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RE: "Check Engine" Light?

Mon Mar 04, 2002 7:36 pm

The "Check Engine" light is also called the "Idiot Light", which basically says, "we know you are pretty useless, so bring the car to one of our dealers who will charge you $150 per hour to fiddle around with it."

I once had a camaro with such a light. The Catalytic converter was getting old and needed to be replaced, so I replaced it with a straight pipe instead (got better power and better consuption for less money). Of course the idiot light stayed on all the time, because of the different back pressure etc, so I ended up removing the bulb, and the car ran trouble-free for years.

The only thing you should feel when shooting a terrorist: Recoil.
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RE: "Check Engine" Light?

Mon Mar 04, 2002 7:37 pm

I don't know about cars a decade old, but some newer ones have the light come on for a breif bit if you've gone more than N miles without a tune-up. Mechanics can "reset" the computer so it knows how long to go before giving you another 'hint'.
Topic Author
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RE: "Check Engine" Light?

Mon Mar 04, 2002 7:52 pm

Thanks guys, I HIGHLY doubt it's anything major.

Toadpipe: It hasn't been burning much oil lately, it's actually been pretty good.

I think it is a tune-reminder because my truck is quite due for a tune-up. I'll book it in for Tuesday to get the full scoop.

Thanks again!

Topic Author
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RE: "Check Engine" Light?

Mon Mar 04, 2002 7:56 pm

Oh, and I have a trustworthy mechanic I'll be booking it in to, not a bloody dealership!!

My mother learned that the hard way...
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RE: "Check Engine" Light?

Mon Mar 04, 2002 11:30 pm

On some vehicles, such as my Isuzu Rodeo, the Check Engine light will come on if you fail to tighten the gas cap sufficiently.
"Let me think about it" = the coward's way of saying "no"
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RE: "Check Engine" Light?

Mon Mar 04, 2002 11:36 pm

That's kinda silly. You can spend a week on the engine, dismantling the whole thing to find the "engine" problem, to find out it was a loose gas cap. LOL!

The only thing you should feel when shooting a terrorist: Recoil.
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RE: "Check Engine" Light?

Mon Mar 04, 2002 11:36 pm

You Ranger has a computer in it. When something is amiss with your engine, the computer is given a code and will store it. Your check engine light simply means it received and stored data. The technician will hook up to your computer and read the codes. This will help tell them what is wrong. Sometimes it may be something vague you cannot detect but still needs attention like a vacuum leak. But they will charge you just to hook up to it.
"Shaddap you!"
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RE: "Check Engine" Light?

Tue Mar 05, 2002 12:16 am

The FAA has specified that following a "Check Engine" indication, your Ranger cannot MOVE untill it has been checked over by mechanics.  Wink/being sarcastic  Smile/happy/getting dizzy  Smokin cool

The SCARY thought is if a mechanics/auto dealer political lobby gives enough in "campaign contributions" , it just might happen someday.
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RE: "Check Engine" Light?

Tue Mar 05, 2002 2:27 am

If you plan on keeping your truck for a while invest in a Haynes service manual and a code reader for your truck's computer. You can pull down the fault codes and look em up in the service manual. If you do some troubleshooting before you go to your mechanic you will save time and money.

If your vehicle is still under its original factory warranty, which a 91 most certainly isn't, then take it to the dealership.

BTW... on Chrysler products you don't need a code reader. Just cycle it on-off-on-off-on-off and the "check gages" light will flash out the codes.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
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RE: "Check Engine" Light?

Tue Mar 05, 2002 3:17 am

Vehicles whose powertrains are computer monitored/controlled are fed data by many sensors ie: coolant temp... manifold pressure... oxygen sensor... mass airflow ( where applicable ) ...throttle position... and more. All "check engine" means is that your computer has received an erroneous reading from one or more of those sensors- that is; the parameters of a certain input that the computer is looking for have been exceeded or fall below it. It will issue a code or codes that can be accessed by a diagnostic breakout box of sorts. The cheapo ones at chain auto parts stores may or may not give you the right code- this is why they recommend having a dealer or repair shop see if any stored codes have been set. Some cars have a feature where you can short 2 terminals and turn your key on-off-on-off and on again and the "check engine" light will flash a numeric code ( like morse )
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RE: "Check Engine" Light?

Tue Mar 05, 2002 12:57 pm

It could mean any number of things. I've heard that in BMWs they are set to come on every so many miles to make you take your car to the dealer to be serviced and that only the dealer can turn it off. Mine has come on in my Audi and I had to take it to a mechanic to have a computer hooked up to it to find out what it meant. It was some emissions crap. It still comes on occasionally and I just ignore it. Check with a mechanic to be sure.

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