2001 Dakota MIL(malfunction indicator light) is on...

Hi all, I have a 2001 dakota with the 4 cylinder five speed and last evening I was coming home from work and noticed the mil was on. Anyone have an idea
as to what it could be before I go and have to spend money for a mechanic to tell me it's something simple and charge an arm and leg for it? I had an old chevy cavalier at one time and the check engine light was on and it was the pcv valve. I was wondering if thats what this could be or an oxygen sensor or something? It has 41,000 miles on it by the way. Thanks in advance. Any info or tips are greatly appreciated!
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listen up:
modern vehicles are complex
when the light comes on, it takes expensive test equipment to find out why
if you don't want to pay for that diagnosis, then don't; go back to a 74 slant-6 with a one-barrel carb
or you could just do what you seem to be contemplating, throw parts at it and hope

oxygen
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There's literally hundreds, if not thousands, of possibilities to that question.

Well, you can go and buy your own code scanner, retrieve the DTC's, look them up, and decide how to proceed. Some auto parts stores (AutoZone, for one) will scan your vehicle for free, in the hopes of selling you the parts to fix it. Or, you can pay a shop half of what a cheap scanner would cost you, and have them tell you what's wrong.

Yes - it could be a PCV valve... it could be an oxygen sensor. It could be a cylinder misfire, or a bad TPS, or just a loose gas cap , or several hundred other possibilities. There's absolutely no way to know without retrieving the diagnostic codes from the engine's computer.
Sorry to rain on your parade, but that's just the way it is.
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I'm not contemplating throwing parts at it. I was under the impression that this forum was to get help. I thought somebody that knew what the hell they were talking about would hopefully reply....I guess not.
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you need to get it scanned, determine what the problem is, and correct it
there, is that good enough ?
because all you seem to want is for someone to divine the answer thru the meager information you have provided, and give you the magic 'You have to change this part' answer
sorry, it doesn't work that way

that
they
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Okay - to that end, I should be able to go into a computer support newsgroup, post "Hey, my computer crashes from time to time. Why?", and expect an answer that will fix my problem?
No one owns a crystal ball, and NO ONE can tell you what's wrong with your truck based on the information you provided. The first step in diagnosing ANY computer-controlled vehicle is to retrieve the diagnostic codes (because, after all, that's what they're there for), and go from there.
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That's fine guys. I was hoping it would be something simple, but obvisouly not....It just seemed like you were talking down to me like a little kid. It's been a long hot day and my temperament isn't the best right now...Sorry. I just installed a plug for my boat trailer the other evening on the truck, I know you can't answer for sure, but is there a chance that something like that could cause the light to come on? Thanks.
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no idea
how easy would it be to un-do it ?

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That's cool. You can check and make sure you gas cap is tight, but beyond that (especially if the engine is running normally), you need the computer to tell you what it thinks the problem is.
And I also need to apologize - for some reason, I had it in my mind that you had a '99 truck, which doesn't have the capability to display the diag codes. On an '01, you should be able to cycle the ignition switch three times (OFF-ON-OFF-ON-OFF-ON), and the OBD-II codes will display on the odometer. Do that, and either post the codes back here, or do a search for "OBD-II codes" - you'll find a list of the various Pxxxx diagnostic codes, and their descriptions.

Unlikely, especially if you were just splicing into wiring at the rear of the truck. It's "possible" that you might have done something like stretched the wiring to one of the O2 sensors if you were running wiring up the frame rails and zip-tieing it (I'm really going out on a limb here). I'd certainly double-check any area that I was working in, making sure I didn't pinch any stock wiring, etc. - but in all likelihood, the two events are unrelated.
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It wouldn't be hard to undo the wiring...maybe this weekend when I have more time I'll undo it.
I tried cycling the ignition and no codes showed up on the odometer. Maybe I did something wrong? Doesn't seem like it would be possible to do that wrong!!! Anyhow.. thanks a bunch guys I appreciate it. After I take it to a mechanic I'll let you know what the trouble is. Thanks again.
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oops..it was P 0442.
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I just found the code online. It says there is a evaporative emission control system leak detected. Whatever that means!
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gas cap on tight ?

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I had a 01 Dakota that gave me that code repeatedly. After checking around, I found the filler hose and overflow hose for the filler were cracked and leaking..
Changed 'em out and no more problem.
Jim Stinson

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Suddenly, without warning, r8rfan exclaimed (03-Jun-05 1:26 PM):

I get this one too.
1) Gas cap wasn't put on tight at some point. Tighten it down. 2) Unhook the battery, and turn the ignition to ON for 30 seconds to clear the code. 3) If it comes back, try replacing the cap. I understand that they tend to get rusty. Once you've got a new cap on, repeat #2. 4) If it comes back again, you might really have a leak. This is where I am, but I'm a Dakota owner currently stationed in England, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to get this checked. I understand what you'd need to do is get it "smoke checked"
Not an expert, nor do I play one on TV, but I've been through this one, so I hope my experience helps. Sorry you got a spate of unhelpful answers, happens sometimes.
jmc
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Well the light came back on after about 8 miles. I guess I'll try clearing the code the way you suggested jmc. Perhaps then I'll try a new cap or I may just bite the bullet and take it in. When and if I do I will definitely let you know what is up with it! Thanks and take care.
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r8rfan wrote:

Beware of the "factory trained technician"!
This place is lousy with them.
JAM
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I got the code this morning. I guess I wasn't patient enough last night. It is P 0042. Thanks.
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Yeah, the gas cap is tight. Funny thing this morning I put gas in it and noticed that it says if the cap isn't tight the check engine light could come on! When I got to work a guy I work with suggested unhooking the negative battery cable for a few minutes. I did and now the light isn't on. I then did the code again with the ignition and it came up P doNE. Hopefully the problem is resolved? Thanks to all for your input.
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Suddenly, without warning, r8rfan exclaimed (03-Jun-05 11:00 PM):

Could be. If you've got a gas cap problem or something bigger, it'll be back. Just be sure you're really crankin' the cap when you put it on, to eliminate that as a problem from now on.
And yes, P Done means no codes. It took only a couple of days for the code to reappear on my Dak though. I have a 2001 as well.
If you get it checked out, please post what they said/did here, it may help me with the British Jeep folks here (the closest thing we have to Dodge).
jmc
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