Check Engine Light

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

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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.

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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!

Breakfast

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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Dinner

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:

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

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108 Comments

  1. I have a 2010 Nissan Rouge and love it. Before that I had a 1999 Chev Cavalier, which was my high school grad gift, but almost 10 years later with it, it was time to get a adult vehicle! I have too many dream cars I like, I have always wanted a Porsche Boxster though!

  2. Do not ignore your check engine light. If you want to save money, get somebody to read the OBD computer for you before evaluating repair options. You can usually get JiffyLube or AutoZone or the like to do this for you for free, or for a small ($5-10) fee.

  3. Go to a auto store, many of them will plug your car into their computer for free and read the code for the check engine. Good Luck!

    1. I was going to suggest this as well – You can use their machine to hook it up and figure out what the problem is. Then from there decide how to fix it.

      I used to have a 2006 Camry and around 90K miles it started doing the same thing. We went and hooked it up to find it had to do with the EGR valve (gas cap)… so we bought a new one and all was good!

  4. Take the car to an Auto Zone or something like that. They have a machine that they will hook up to the car that will diagnose the issue — for free! Then you can decide if you need to take it to the mechanic or if it’s something trivial.

  5. I’d take it in — better safe than sorry! I drive a Toyota myself, and while it’s probably nothing serious, you don’t want it to suddenly break down on the interstate or something. (I’ve had that happen…NOT FUN!)

  6. I’ve had the check engine light issue many a times on my old Honda. Most times it was absolutely nothing. You can get a diagnostic run for free at a valvoline or even your mechanic (mine did). At least then you’ll know the severity of the issue. It didn’t always tell us everything we needed to know, but at least a starting off point. Just an idea!

  7. I just got a new (to me) car and I LOVE it!! I got a Nissan Rogue. It is so so amazing! I am seriously in love, although I do miss my good old Saab. At least it is still in my family. Not having to shift gears and use a clutch has been pretty darn nice in the new ride, though.

  8. My 2000 Honda Civic is about to be 190k miles old and problem free (knocking on wood-like desk). Hondas and Toyotas DO last forever. I’m actually apprehensive about newer cars, I’m afraid they don’t make them like they used to 😉

  9. If you got gas recently, I would definitely try undoing the gas cap and tightening it down (a couple clicks). A loose gas cap causes the check engine light to come on because of emission control. Other than that, check engine lights come on for a variety of reasons – Pep Boys or Napa Auto will probably diagnose it for free.

  10. I just bought a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta (yes, pre-owned) and I freakin’ LOVE this car. I’m hoping she lasts me a LONG time because my last car (a 2005 Ford Focus that I got in 2008 or 2009) definitely was near the end of it’s life when I traded it in. But you can usually take your car in and they’ll assess what’s going on for cheap, if not free. Then you can decide if you want them to do the work or if you can do it yourself or wait for a bit….

  11. I have a 99 jeep laredo which I adore but I have had it for ten yrs and I’m in need of something new soon! I’d love another jeep, a lexus suv or a land rover…hey, a girl can dream!

  12. I can attest to Toyota longevity. I actually have an ’89 Camry, so they for sure last a looooong time! I love my car so much – it even has moving seat belts! Ha!

  13. I wonder if you’re just due for your 90K tune up! My check engine light (in my toyota) turns on to remind me about regular maintenance. I wonder if that’s what yours is doing? Either way, don’t ignore it…

  14. The check engine light on my last car was the bane of my existence. I took it in to get “fixed” and paid about $500 for it. A week later, it came on again, so it got diagnosed for something different (apparently) and it was another $200, but I argued with them because I doubted that it was two separate issues within one week so only paid $12 the second time for a new gas cap. The light came on AGAIN a month later and stayed on for the remaining 5 years that I owned the vehicle and never broke down. My fiancé’s car had similar issues – they would “fix” it, it would come on again, he would take it in again. Not saying you shouldn’t take it in, because it could be something serious, but we’ve now had 2 experiences where (different) mechanics obviously had no idea what they were doing. GAH!

    1. @Andrea:

      I went through this exact same thing. I kept bringing it in to get fixed and the light would just come back on again. It’s actually been on for months now and I think it’s just going to stay that way forever. So far it’s running fine – so fingers crossed it doesn’t break down on me.

      But good grief to mechanics not knowing what is up – and me getting charged hundreds of dollars fixing stuff.

  15. im not sure if this was already mentioned.. but.. mine used to do that too, i would tighten the gas cap and it would eventually turn off. also i used to fill gas with my car on (i lived in az and it was too HOT to turn off) so once i started turning my car off to get gas, it really helped the problem!! hope that helps 🙂

  16. i own a 2004 Trailblazer. Love it but it’s $70 a week in gas. Don’t love that so much.

    I would just like something that gets great gas mileage. Like a prius or jetta. Throw some leather seats in there perhaps.

    if gas was free or I was loaded, I’d get a big ass truck. F150 or something.

  17. I hate when the check engine light comes on! Once in the past when it came on in my old car, I went a LONG time before I had it checked and it ended up being something serious. Whoops! But it also can be really minor… Tough call. Good luck with it though! Hope it’s not major. I currently have an ’08 Subaru Outback (new to me this spring) and I looove it!

  18. I drive a Nissan Murano and I absolutely LOVE it! I drive a ton for my job and the SUV is stellar for high way driving and hauling a bunch of stuff (which I usually do). But when I was in the city last weekend, I asked for a small rental car. City driving is totally different and all I wanted was a reliable small car that would allow me to fit into tight spaces with ease.

  19. check engine light needs to be addressed, have you had your timing belt changed yet, that could be it

  20. I drive a Chevy Sonic LTZ! Brand new! I love it. Great gas mileage. That cottage cheese bowl looks divine! My dream car would be an audi a3 convertible ;). Oh a gal can dream :). You know what I like to do with butterscotch chips? I melt them in the microwave with dark chocolate chips. Then I drizzle that mixture on top of a banana. Its delicious! have a great day 🙂

  21. For over 10 years I drove a 97 VW Jetta in green that I really loved even though it had its share of problems. In 2010, I went the responsible shopper route and really studied up on reliable no-hassle cars. My choice – a 2010 Hyundai Elantra in royal blue. So far, so good! My blue baby is treating me well.

    Last year, about a year into owning the Elantra, I had an unfortunate incident with a deer that decided to slam into my car. 🙁 The deer was fine but the driver’s side of the car and my windshield were not. My rental while my car was getting fixed up – a brand new 2010 Mercedes Benz S class in VERY cherry red. I don’t care much about cars as long as they go and are safe. Yet, driving that Mercedes around for a week was pretty sweet!

  22. I have a 2003 Toyota corolla (my 1988 Volvo just died and my friend was getting a 2013 Subaru so I bought her old car) my dream car = jeep wrangler

  23. I own a BMW 335i.
    My dream car would be a ferrari enzo (which means I would previously have to own 2 other ferraris), or lamborghini gallardo or an mercedes benz SLS AMG

  24. not alot of people know this, but if you take your car to a Advance Auto parts store or somethings similar in your area, they are usually willing to check the “code” on your check engine light. Basically checking the code will give u a better idea of where the problem is located, what is necessary to fix, etc.

    My hubby did this for his car and found out he needed a new oxygen sensor. so he ordered an oxygen sensor and installed it himself – he does basic car maintenance on our cars, but obviously if he didnt know how we would have taken the part to a shop and had them do the labor.

    just a tip. get the code checked out first and then see. they might not be willing to “clear” the code immediately, so u might still need a mechanic to perform the labor and clear the code. clearing the code means your light will go off.

    also – sometimes the light can come on if you need to do an oil change.

    but like i said, get the code checked first so u can see what the problem is and what is required. sorry for rambling!

  25. Have you gassed up lately?

    My check engine light went on after I fueled up one day. Turns out I hadn’t screwed the gas cap on properly.

    1. ooops didn’t read your post all that carefully I guess!

      Just an FYI, it took about a day and a half for the light to go off once I’d tightened the cap.

  26. Hi Tina,

    Whenever my check engine light turns on I take it to Auto Zone or a Discount Auto parts store they will run a free diagnostic on it and you usually can purchase whatever you need at the store. Much cheaper than the mechanic.

  27. I have a 99 Camry (same color!) and I’ve been playing the check engine light game for the last 6 months–Pep Boys will check the computer code for free, but mine read something scary about the catalytic converter and they tried to charge me $100 to get a full diagnosis. Pass.

    A mechanic friend took me through my whole emissions system and explained that one ignition with one small misfire can trigger the light. If it gets a certain number of starts where everything goes normal, it will turn itself off.

  28. I drive a 2003 VW Beetle. It /was/ my dream car at the time of purchase, but now, I really would like a mini cooper or a fiat.

  29. I still have my first car, a 98 Honda Civic but I dream about someday owning a vintage Ford Mustang. Although after 14 years of almost no major issues, I’m tempted to get another Honda again. I had the engine light come on after a tune up once because they hadn’t tightened something under the hood properly, I believe it was one of the spark plugs. Easy fix and they didn’t charge me since it was their fault.

  30. Mine went on awhile back (2006 Kia Optima EX), and it was some accellerator issue. My uncle told me to take it to Autozone, since it’s free to do a diagnostic check, but there were two other issues with mine, that made me take it to the dealer (even my usual mechanic said it had to go to the dealer). Luckily, it was something covered under my extended warranty, so it only cost $100 for that, $50 for the tow (Couldn’t get it to accelerate), and then another $25 or so, but only because I asked that they fix my headlights.
    I would get it checked ASAP, just because there are SO many things that it could be. Only takes a few minutes, and maybe you’ll get lucky and it’ll be nothing. 🙂

  31. i drive a ’07 mazda3 and LOVE it! i’ve never had any issues with either, but about six months ago my engine light came on too. nothing sounded weird or seemed strange when i drove it, so i waited it out for awhile before i took it anywhere. after about a week, it randomly shut off and never came back on since! i don’t know if it was just an electrical thing or what… who knows! i’d say my dream car is a chevy tahoe. it’s pretty simple, but i’m all about practicality, so i’d love it!

  32. Try the gas cap thing. I’ve had that happen with a few cars of mine. It usually takes a few starts to reset itself.

    I drive a Volvo xc70. Even though it’s a wagon, I love it! I refuse to drive a minivan.

  33. I’d love an Audi TT convertible in purple! Someday! I wish we could get runny nut butters here. I love my nut butters don’t get me wrong, but the runny varieties you guys have in the US go a hell of a lot further!

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