!996 T-Bird engine light

My neighbor's 4.6 sohc engine light came on and stayed on while driving.We disconnected the battery and the light went off.He drove it for about 150 miles and the engine light came on again.(about a week's time).He is retired
and unable to work on cars.I would like to help him find and repair the problem.A mechanic told him he would charge him $85 to tell him what the problem was.He doesn't have the money to spare,presently. The car does not show over-heating and obviously has good lubrication.Seems to operate normal.It has 70,000 miles on it and has been well maintained. Some of you are pretty well experienced in finding the root problems of this kind or maybe trouble shoot some inexpensive way to solve his problem.I will very much appreciate your ideas and advice. I Thank You,in advance for your response.
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Ynocencio Zamora wrote:

I'm assuming you mean the MIL (yellow "check engine" light). I had this problem on my '96 Tbird (same engine). I took it to Autozone and they pulled out the OBD2 code for me for free. I then bought one of the OBD2 tools for about $160-$170 and I use it myself for checking why the light came on (the tool has since paid for itself several times over). This will only tell you why the light came on, not what the problem is because the light only tells you that a sensor is detecting something that is not right. The tool will allow you to clear the code, causing the light to go out until something wrong is detected again. (I use this technique to tell the difference between "false alarms" and real problems)
70k isn't that many miles. In the next few weeks, I'll hit 150k on my bird. Tell him he's got pleanty of miles left in his.
The $85 sounds pretty standard (minimum one hour's labor charge for a lot of shops). That's why it's good to know that there's a real problem before you take it in. That way you don't get stuck paying for someone to tell you there's nothing wrong.
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Brian Steele wrote:

What, ultimately was the problem causing the light with *your* T-bird? How did you fix it? How expensive?
Frank
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F.H. wrote:

I don't want to scare you, but I had a pretty expensive problem. In the end, it was my catalytic converters going out. I had to replace my whole head pipe assembly ($1200 - and that was a cheap part at Midas, the dealer wanted $1600 for the stainless steel one). I was getting a "catalyst efficiency below threshold" code - P0402 & P0401 if I remember correctly - I don't know how far back this newsgroup keeps its posts, but I posted the whole saga here a few months ago. Basically, I had worn out both cat. converters- my car had about 140k miles at the time.
You may not have the same problem I did. You are dealing with significantly less miles than I am. I also had an engine light problem when I was still under warranty (at about 15k-20k miles), and all they did was load a software upgrade to fix that one. Sorry, I don't have info on the price there because I didn't pay for it.
It's also possible that the light will just go away on its own. Depending on what problem it is, the light may go out after a certain number of driving cycles if the computer doesn't detect the same problem again.
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Most likely suspect is O2 sensor(s). AutoZone or one of the other chain auto parts stores should give the car a scan for free (except in California, illegal there).
Ynocencio Zamora wrote:

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Yep - go to AutoZone and ask them to read the codes. Then do a Google search of this newsgroup using the code... you'll find lots of answers.
PoD

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