Check Engine Light 96 Lincoln

The check engine light came on in my 96 Lincoln Town car. I've done a little research, and realize it could be a loose gas cap, sensor or carbon buildup.
Could it have anything to do with the transmission?
If I disconnect the battery, and then reconnect, thus killing the light, will it immediately come back on if there is a problem, or will it stay off. Should I try that?
Any info on this is appreciated.
I'm in the Albuquerque area if you have a suggestion on where to take it other than Lincoln Mercury. They want $115 just to diagnose it. I guess I'll just have to fork it over if I can't come up with a better solution.
If it's nothing, I'd like to know that too.
Thanks,
Tom
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A little more research would show that there are many, many things that can turn on the CEL.... Some are minor, some can spell an early death for expensive pieces.... All of them indicate that the car is exceeding emissions for that model year car....
Disconnecting the battery may make it more difficult for the shop to diagnose the concern(s) causing the light to come on. The light may or may not return immediately... some concerns must happen more than once and some must happen on consecutive drive cycles....
What do you suggest is a fair price to pay for emission systems diagnosis...
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On Thu, 16 Nov 2006 02:57:33 GMT, "Jim Warman"
I'll pay what I have to pay. I haven't had the car long, and didn't really know what the light meant or what to expect.
I appreciate the responses.
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Tom G wrote:

Take the car to an AutoZone or some other "chain" auto parts store and they'll read the engine codes for free, giving indications of the problem(s) much better than guessing, opinions or remote diagnoses (more guessing) as to the cause of the light coming on.
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On Wed, 15 Nov 2006 21:23:43 -0600, Sharon Cooke wrote:

Unless you have a lot of miles on the 96 Lincoln, some of the parts may still be under waranty. I got a new OBDII computer becouse my 97 T-Bird had less than the required warenty miles on it. I sure othere people in this group can tell you what the EPA requires on some of the parts in a car befoure it is no longer covered under the manuafactures waranty.
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Tom - Many auto parts places will read the codes for free - AutoZone does here in Ohio. Just be sure to come back here with the codes, don't buy parts on their suggestion before asking here.
PoD

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On Thu, 16 Nov 2006 08:35:07 GMT, "Paul of Dayton"
Unless you have a lot of miles on the 96 Lincoln, some of the parts may still be under waranty. I got a new OBDII computer becouse my 97 T-Bird had less than the required warenty miles on it. I sure othere people in this group can tell you what the EPA requires on some of the parts in a car befoure it is no longer covered under the manuafactures waranty.
The car runs great, but has 178,000 miles on it

Thanks for that. I found an Autozone 3 miles from where I'm staying and I'll check them out today. I'll let you know what codes they come up with.
Tom
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Here is the code and error message I got from Autozone:
Trouble code OBDII (Alpha) P Code
P0430
"The PCM has determined that the catalyst system efficiency for bank 2 is below threshold for the current engine operating conditions. (Bank1 identifies the location of cylinder #1, while bank 2 identifies the cylinders on the opposite bank.)"
They said a sensor was needed. The OE part is $63.99 and the universal is $54.99. (I have no idea what the difference is.)
I asked him if he knew a good mechanic, and he pointed to a guy across the street. He said to speak kind of slowly, because his English isn't very good, but that he's never had any complaints.
I talked to the guy, and after some looking he said that I should get the universal part and that he would charge me $30 to install it.
That's what I found out. I'll wait to hear what you guys have to say about it.
Thanks again,
Tom
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Tom G wrote:

The parts store was talking about the catalyst monitor O2 sensor. It compares the reading of the O2 sensor ahead of the converter to what it sees coming out, If it doesn't see enough difference it causes a Catalyst Efficiency code to set. The sensors themselves rarely fail. (There are 2 Catalyst monitor sensors and 2 O2 sensors on your car). The code could be a sign that the catalyst is failing, but maybe not. There was a Recall?, TSB? dealing with this concern on many late 90s GM\CV\TC vehicles. It involved reflashing the PCM to loosen up the parameters a bit. Contact a Ford dealer and have then see if the car falls into that particular group. I believe that being emissions related, it was a Recall.
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On Thu, 16 Nov 2006 17:54:02 -0500, Tom Adkins

Thanks for the time you took to help me with this problem. I'll look into your suggestions.
I talked to the previous owner and he recalled the light coming on at one time with a similar solution, that is, he replaced a sensor.
But get this. I was almost out of gas today, and after I filled it up and started driving I noticed the light was no longer on!
Now I'm totally confused.
Thanks again,
Tom
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Tom G wrote:

The conditions that set the code will tend to come and go depending on what is happening with the air\fuel mixture and the conditions in the converter. The reflash changes the detection strategy for the catalyst monitor to help prevent the code setting too easily. It "could" be a sign of a failing catalyst, but it likely just needs the new PCM calibration. There are a couple of Ford Techs here that would know the details better than I do.
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