Do not ignore the “Check Engine Light”
One of the most common things we do is ignore that pesky “Check Engine Light” that comes on your dashboard. The car seems to be running OK so why bother with that dumb light anyway?
There are a lot of reasons that light comes on. In my experience it most commonly comes on for oxygen sensor replacement. These are not difficult things to diagnose or to fix. For most vehicles now there are videos online that show you exactly what you need to do to fix it yourself. The average O2 sensor is less than $200, some even less than $100. So it isn’t that expensive. But there is a little bit of mechanical skills required because they are usually stuck in pretty good due to the heating and cooling of the engine. Plus they are often in places that are not easy to get to. The whole puzzle can be solved by just Googling you car “Year, Make, Model and what you want to do”. So for my car I’d Google “2006 Volvo S60 Oxygen sensor replacement” and about 5 videos come up that show me where they are located and what I need to do to replace them.
What do they do?
O2 sensors read how much oxygen is going into and coming out of the engine. This tells you how efficiently your engine is running. So if the O2 sensor is bad your computer that runs pretty much everything on your car can’t really tell how it is running. So you could be wasting a lot of gas. There usually is one in the intake system and one in the exhaust system. But some vehicles have more than two.
How do you know what is bad?
For about $125 you can buy a handheld computer diagnostic machine that you just plug into your car or truck and it tells you what is wrong. It really is that simple. It will give you back a code that you Put into Google and it will tell you. It will read something like “P0151”. You just go to Google and put in “Engine code P0151” and you will find your answer. Or, an even easier way is to take it to your nearest auto parts store and most of them will do a free engine check for you.
How do you replace an O2 sensor?
First you need to know if it is an upstream or a down stream sensor. That will be determined by the code. Then you Google that. So lets do that for my car so you can see an example “2006 Volvo S60 Upstream oxygen sensor replacement”. Here is the video I used to know how to replace it in my car https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcy95GsZqlM
That is it. That red light on the dashboard isn’t really that scary most times. It is much better to get it looked at right away so you have an idea what you are facing and can do a little of your own research. It only takes a few minutes to learn what those codes mean and how much work is involved in fixing it.