Check Engine Light

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

Good morning!

I just dropped off Murphy at the vet for his annual check-up, which includes a full examination and a couple of vaccinations, so he’ll spend most of the day there (it was sad coming home to a pug-less house), and Mal will pick him up on his way home from school this afternoon.

On the drive home from the vet, the “check engine light” turned on in my car. I’ve owned my car for nearly 10 years now, but I’ve barely had any issues with it. It only has a little over 90,000 miles, so it definitely has some years left in it, especially since it’s a Toyota. Those babies last forever!

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Anyway, I’m not sure what to think about the “check engine light.” I know I should just take it to a mechanic to get it checked out, but if it isn’t a serious problem that requires immediate attention, I’d rather save the money and fix it myself. I read online it could be as simple as tightening your gas cap since some cars warn of this by turning on the “check engine light.” I got gas on Friday afternoon, so maybe that’s it”¦ or maybe it’ll just go off by itself? Wishful thinking!


After dropping off Murphy at the vet, I made myself breakfast, which was cottage cheese mixed with applesauce, chopped walnuts, fresh blueberries, and a big, runny scoop of almond butter. My goodness, it was delicious””and filling!

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I also drank a glass of iced coffee with unsweetened coconut milk, which makes it nice and creamy.

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Last night’s dinner was an open-face turkey sandwich with tomatoes slices, Laughing Cow cheese, and grainy mustard spread on a piece of Paleo Bread and some kale chips on the side.

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I finished off dinner with a couple of handfuls of butterscotch chips.

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Questions of the Day

If you own a car, what kind of car is it? What is your dream car?

I own a 2001 Toyota Camry. Here she is in Southie a couple of years ago:


My dream car would be some sort of Mercedes-Benz sedan””sort of like this one:




  1. I have a 2002 Camry (same color!) and my check engine light has been on for approximately 5 months. It kept going on and off after long car trips so I brought it in to one mechanic who told me it was one of the oxygen sensors and another issue and it would be 1600$! I thought that was nuts, so I went to a second mechanic (just like doctor’s, ALWAYS get a 2nd opinion!) who told me it was an oxygen sensor but that it was only super important to fix before I got my emissions checked next fall. He told me to put premium gas in it every other fill up to burn out some crud (my technical words, not his) and it worked!! I brought him numerous donuts in return for my gratitude. It still comes on but I feel better knowing that it’s not an emergency and I don’t have to spend 1600 bucks right now 🙂

  2. I have a Mazda CX-7 & I love it! I’m determined that this will be the first car I own that I actually PAY OFF before trading in! I’ve never experienced not having a car payment, so I’m going to make it happen! 🙂

    My dream car would be any kind of nice, cute convertible!

  3. My favorites cars are SUVs, we just purchased a 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe and we love it! My dream cars are a few, from the sedan category the Mercedes S class, or a Porche Panamero 🙂 I also love Bugati and Rolls Royce 🙂 what can I say I love expensive cars! 🙂 From the SUV category I am really loving the Mercedes ML class hopefully we will get one in the future! 🙂 And on that light, I would say go check the car it can be something very minor, but don’t take the risk it is not worth it, so better check it asap!

  4. If you go to Auto Zone or another car supply store, they can use a computer to read what the problem is.

  5. Tina, I have a Toyota too (Corolla) and I had the same problem. For me it turned out to be a teeny-tiny pin hole in the gas line. You are right, it can be something as minor as the gas cap not being on tight, so check that first, but in my case that wasn’t it. The other thing is look to make sure you are not leaking any anti-freeze (look for puddles under your car), a sign that the head gasket is shot. This also would make the check engine light come on, but this isn’t very likely if you only have 90K on it.

  6. I have a 2011 Ford Escape in bright blue, we upgraded from a Fusion before we had our baby in September so we could have more space for all the stuff we were going to have to lug around. I really actually LOVE this car, feels like you are driving a sedan, but has the look and space of an SUV.

    However, if I could have any car, I have always wanted a Volkswagon Cabrio…the cute little convertables, not exactly baby friendly though!

  7. I have a Subaru Outback Sport and I love it. But my dream car is still a Volvo Cross Country station wagon – so weird, but I’ve always loved the Volvo wagons! I grew up with Volvos as family cars, so maybe that’s why..?

  8. I have a 2012 Honda Civic that I’m in love with. 🙂 But if I could choose, I would have either a SmartCar or something similar that’s equivalent in size. I love small things!

  9. My first car was a 2001 Chevy Prizm (a rebadged Toyota Corolla, it looked EXACTLY like a corolla on the inside). My check engine light was on for probably the last 2 years I had it because of a broken oxygen sensor.

    I’ve had a 2010 Toyota Yaris hatchback for almost a year and I love it! I get amazing gas mileage, important when you are a poor grad student 🙂

  10. I have a 2006 Mazda 3 that is most definitely my auto-love. I learned to drive in a Mazda MX-3 and knew from the start that I was destined to “zoom zoom” when it was time to get my own car. She’s been paid off since last September and I have about 145,000km on it.. so about 90098.82 miles and still going strong! If I could choose a dream car, funny enough, I’d just get a newer Mazda 3 model, but in the sport edition with the hatch! In bright blue! 🙂

  11. My boyfriend drives a Toyota Rav-4, and just recently experienced an issue with the check engine light. It ended up being a sensor that needed to get replaced, and cost him about $300 to fix. I made him purchase a new gas cap / try that for $10 first!

  12. I currently have a 2008 Chevy Malibu (an upgrade after someone t-boned me and totaled my 2004 Malibu). But my first car was a 2000 Ford Focus, it wasn’t a bad car but it had some quirks. I had the car for a year and a half and I’m pretty sure the Check Engine light was on at least 75% of the time. It also used to stall sometimes at red lights, even though it was an automatic.

  13. I’ve got a 2011 Ford Explorer that I absolutely love. I’m not sure what my dream car would be. I really like the Lexus SUV’s so maybe something like that.

  14. It’s true: Toyotas ARE the best. My family is very much a Toyota-loving family. I actually have a Subaru, but that’s only because it was a hand-me-down from my aunt (aka MUCH cheaper than buying a car from elsewhere for my first car!). But you bet my next car will be a Toyota! As for a dream car, I’ve never been someone to fantasize about that, possibly because I’d probably be too afraid to drive a really fancy car for fear of ruining it!

  15. Yay Toyota. We have a prius and it’s great. Granted we live in a city and don’t do a lot of driving, but we only get gas every couple of months!

  16. Generally if it IS the gas cap, simply tightening it wont make it go off at least not for a while, if ever. I have learned this the hard way. i just took it to Toyota and they fixed it without cost. You have to be sure and really tighten it after each time u put gas in.

  17. I just bought my first car back in October! It’s a 2012 Mazda 3. I can’t wait to pay it off and keep it until it breaks down, haha big dreams over here!!

  18. I owned a 2001 Toyota Rav4, and the only problems I had with it were defective computer sensors which resulted in my check engine light coming on! I think it happened 3 times, and to fix the sensors were over 300$ each time! I think Toyotas, especially around 2000-2002 are known for having computer problems, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it something like that. I’m not sure if a malfunctioning sensor can damage your car. Why can’t all car problems be as simple as tightening your gas cap!

    On another note, Mal’s birthday party weekend sounded like a blast! I love game nights like you guys do!

  19. I have a 1996 Toyota Camry and I love it. It was originally my grandmothers so I knew the entire history of the car. And it was the last year that Toyota put in a great engine so I plan on driving it into the ground. And my check engine light has been on for a while too! I should get that checked.

    I love the new Ford Fusions. My husband and I have been looking at those cars. 🙂

  20. I have a Volkswagen Jetta with about 96,000 miles on it. My check engine light came on a few months ago, and then went off for a few weeks, then came back on so I finally went and got it checked which ended up being expensive in itself because they had to run diagnostics once they read the code for what was wrong. Turns out it’s going to be like $500 to fix, ugh. Luckily I haven’t had really any issues with the car before now so I guess it was time something happened!

  21. I’ve had the check engine light thing before – my advice is to bring it to a place like Autozone just to have them run the codes (they’ll do it for free) so you have an idea of what kind of problem it may be. Then you may have a better idea if it’s something that can wait or not. Hope it turns out to be something silly like the gas cap thing!

  22. Toyotas really do last forever! My family owns a Toyota Camry thats about a decade old already and it still looks brand new! We recently purchased a Honda Civic and I’m looking forward to spending many many years driving it…apparently they have a great reputation too!

  23. I have a 2004 Hyundai Elantra and I’ve had issues with it. I also had the O2 sensor issue… but some cable was burned through. It was under $300 to fix it. I’m definitely not getting another Hyundai.. I hope this one will last me until next year without any other repairs.
    My dream car is a Lexus IS2500.

  24. 2012 Ford Explorer! I LOVE LOVE it. I’ve always been an SUV girl and now with two little ones….space is a must.

  25. I have a 1999 Toyota Avalon (160,000 miles!) – the check engine light came on a couple of years ago. I took it to a mechanic who hooked it up to a computer a told me it was an oxygen sensor – I don’t remember how much it cost to have fixed, but I didn’t have the money at the time and the mechanic said I could drive it for awhile and it wouldn’t matter. I think I finally got it fixed a year or two later. Lol. I think someone else already said it, but you should be able to take it to a mechanic so they can hook it up to a computer and tell you what’s going on.

  26. I’m a Honda girl myself 😉 I’ve got a white (the color is my only complaint – it’s just never clean, even after a car wash!) 2006 Honda Accord EX with about 101,000 miles on it and since they run forever, too, I’ll probably have it for another 100,000 miles. Before that, I had a silver 2001 Honda Accord EX and I’m sure my next car will be another!

  27. I have an audi A4 I have never had a problem with it and it handles like a dream in the unpredictable north east weather : ) I would love a mini cooper convertible if I could have another choice.

  28. We have a 2009 Grand Prix and a 2011 Ford Taurus. My husband wanted me to drive the newer car but the lumbar is much better in the Grand Prix. My favorite car was a 1994 Pontiac camaro convertible that got me a few speeding tickets but it was fun. Fun has taken the back seat to comfort at my age and anything that is roomy with a seat that fits me is the ticket!

  29. My husband is a GM certified service consultant and passing along his advice – go to a Toyota Dealership for service! The techs should be certified and up-to-date on training, so they know a lot more about your car than “Randy’s Car Repair” and have the right tools.

  30. Tina, I didn’t read the other reviews thoroughly, so you may have already received this advice. Typically, the auto parts chain stores – like Auto Zone and the like – have a little device that they can hook up to your car to figure out why the check engine light is on. Around here, they do it for free. The machine gives a code for why the light came on and the code corresponds to something like “jaberwakieding dong is loose” or some other technical mumbo jumbo! It can save you the money of taking it to a dealership or somewhere that will charge to check it.

    My husband and I love subaru! Living in Michigan, all-wheel drive is very necessary! We have a 2011 Subaru Legacy and a 2008 Subaru Forester. The Legacy feels like you are driving a luxury sedan for a lot less, great gas mileage, and all-wheel drive – woot! Love it!!

  31. I would definitely agree with some other commenters – taking it to an AutoZone or Advanced Auto Parts, they’ll usually run the little diagnostic check for free and at least give you a better idea of the problem. Then you’ll be able to determine whether it’s worth going to a mechanic for, or whether it’s something you can do yourself. Always better to be safe than sorry though, just in case it is something serious or dangerous!

    Also, I drive a total piece-of-crap 2000 Saturn. My coworkers love to call it my matchbox car, because it’s teeny tiny and plastic. I’m pretty sure if I got into a chicken match with a deer on the road, the deer would win. Which is not exactly reassuring!

  32. I have a 2005 Camry. I really hope it lives up the long life expectancy. Plus, the longer I don’t have a car payment, the better!

      1. I guess there are many varieties of kale. Personally, I’ve seen Curly, Ornamental and Dinosaur kale at my grocery.

  33. The same thing just happened to me! unfortunately for me, I had to take my Toyota to the dealer for inspection and to just TURN OFF THE LIGHT it was $250. Bummer. It turns out I needed a new gas cap bc it wouldnt seal properly and they wouldnt pass me on inspection with the light on. Lame.

  34. I own an ’02 Camry and its check engine light went on. And my weird-ass father owns the machine that dials into a car’s engine’s computer and tells you what’s turning on the light, and it was… the gas cap.
    Tweaked the gas cap, light went off.

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