My '97 Thunderbird LX with 3.8L engine has been throwing a "Service Engine
Soon" light every now and then. Checking and retightening the fuel tank cap is
about the only remedy I know about, and that hasn't worked in stopping the light
from going on and off.
I stopped at my local Autozone yesterday to have them read the codes and
purchase the necessary parts to repair this annoying problem. The counter guy
came out with me and started looking around for the connector and couldn't find
it. I suggested perhaps it was under the hood, and we searched around under
there as well. As we walked back into the store, I told him my owner's manual
was in my tool box at home, but I doubted it revealed the location of the DLC,
and we'd have to look it up in "The Book". He told a woman that was obviously
the store manager (she was wearing a white shirt) of his difficulty in locating
the DLC, and, without even looking up from her paperwork, she said "Maybe it's
in a place we're not supposed to go. Tell him (me) to check the books out over
there (pointing to an aisle with Haynes manuals)." The clerk takes me over to
the shelf of books and selects a Haynes Ford Thunderbird manual and hands it to
me. "Maybe you can find it in there," he says.
Now, this book is wrapped in a plastic sleeve that has to be destroyed to
open the book. I'm going to have to buy it, right? Well, I said that I'd go
home first and check my owner's manual. As I was leaving, I approached the
manager and said that I don't think *I'm* going to buy a book to tell *you*
where to find that connector. They should have some data source more readily
available for their employees if they wished to provide a service, albeit free.
She just made one of those annoying faces and returned to pushing her pencil.
I later recalled that they gave me the wrong brake pads some time ago that
weren't discovered until after I'd removed the rear calipers from the car (royal
PITA). And a time before that, they sold me an incorrect heater hose for the
Is it me, the car, or Autozone that's such a problem?
Since I'm me, and the car's a keeper, I won't be going back to AutoZone again.
Tom Flyer wrote: ( '97 Thunderbird LX 3.8L )
I get an occasional SES light so I went to Autozone to have
them read the codes. The counter guy came out to my car
but couldn't find the connector. The store manager said
the Haynes manuals might show the location. They had a
Haynes Ford Thunderbird manual but it was sealed in plastic
and I told the manager I wasn't going to buy a manual just
to find a connector location.
When Autozone provides my free code reading, they should also
provide free information on the location of my code connector.
One time Autozone gave me the wrong brake pads that I found
after I'd removed the rear calipers from the car.
Another time Autozone sold me an incorrect heater hose.
I won't be going back to AutoZone again.
Any intelligent automotive DIYer has the sense and the
courtesy to come in prepared to help the parts supplier
to be sure the proper parts are supplied. He brings in
the old brake shoes to compare to the new ones, he
brings in the old heater hose to compare to the new one,
and he educates himself on the location of an important
connector to be sure the proper one is checked.
But there is another type of customer who can't think
that far ahead, who wastes valuable customer service
time and causes preventable costly parts returns.
Good luck finding another auto parts supplier that will
spend as much time and money on you as Autozone did.
Autozone won't miss you at all.
indicates that your connector is located behind a panel in
the dashboard on the passenger side 12 inches to the right
of the car centerline. Google is your friend.
So, since I only have one car, and my "local" parts place is a mile away
with no bus service between us, they won't mind me jacking up the car
and dismantling my brakes in their parking lot so I can plunk the current
filthy, rusty shoes/pads down on their counter, in the hopes that they might
just happen to have the right ones in stock that day?
My parts place is a mile away with no bus available.
Should I jack up the car and dismantle my brakes in
their parking lot so I can bring in the old shoes/pads
in the hopes they have the right ones in stock?
Not at all. With no friend who could give you a lift,
you will be forced to drive to pick up the parts first
and take the risk that they are the correct ones.
If they are the wrong ones, you will have to reinstall
the old brake parts to drive back to the store.
I have done car repairs in a parts store's parking lot
but it was no fun. Especially when they closed
before the job was done, and the disabled car was
my bedroom until opening time the next day.
autozone is what it is. im not allways happy with them ,but cant write
them off totally. i get alot of advice crammed down my throat without
asking, i can live with that. but its hard to get good service alot of
the time. i wait in line to get to the counter with a long list of
stuff, they want me to go look for half of it in the ilse.then i get
back and someone else is in my place. i got to where i make them get it
all for me before i move on. got this ongoing thing with auto zone
lifetime alternator on a toyota,,have to change it every 9 months,3
times so far.. lucas
Well, I am not going to stoop to name calling, or personal derision to
reply to your problem :-)
However, the location of the computer port can be found on the
Autozone web site, under component locations, so I would worry about
any employee who tells me that they have no way of finding it right
there at the computer on the counter.
I appreciate the free code checks, the battery charging, and component
testing and tool rental. I despise the long lines and lack of enough
people to take care of the customers, but I just try to visit when I
know its gonna be a bit slow. Never go to Autozone on a Saturday
In the past, I have gotten the wrong brake pads, and even sprayed them
with the sticky blue gunk for abating the squeal yet when I took them
back expecting an argument, they just shrugged and gave me the proper
Most all auto parts stores are like life. If your expectations are not
too high, they get you what you need :-) Likely, the service just
varies from store to store, and state to state. Sorry you got such a
Not an employee, not a rep, not even a big fan trying to change your
mind, but my disgust for Autozone bleeds over into just about every
other nationwide chain of part stores.
Gotta be partly you because you keep going back. ;)
I don't know what training these guys get but I'm always cautious with
what are most likely low paid employees, especially if they seem a
I've been using them for quite a few years with no problems. The only
part I ever returned was a thermostat housing (made in China) for my 4.6
and that was done without even leaving the store. I just looked at it,
said "no thanks" and handed it back.
just fyi, I recall from a traing class (I think) that an obd2 aldl is
required to be somewhere near the steering wheel under the dash. its always
there when I look for it.
also, next time your gonna go to the dealer and pay about 90 bucks for a
code? I respectfully submit you should be greatfull for what they do for
free.(like codes and loaning tools)
But, with that being said don't trust them much, they usually have no
training or experiance in parts, much less mechanics when they got that job.
I always look over their shoulder when they are looking up parts. It is very
comical to me when they give me advice (that I don't ask for btw). It is
obvious that their "knowledge" was taught to them by people with ZERO
(not trying to be a smart ass) it sure wouldn't hurt you to own a book on
your vehicle, you should have bought it. Sounds like you need it if you are
going to attempt your own repairs. That 97 isn't getting any younger ;)
These places are parts houses. They know how to sell parts. And sometimes
even then. If they really knew how to diagnose cars they would be making a
more money diagnosing cars for a living.
Autozone is great for certain kinds of parts. They are big enough that they
negotiate purchases in volume. That kind of purchasing power doesen't help
much when your talking about specialized parts like an EGR valve
that is only manufactured by 1 vendor - your going to get almost the same
from a dealership. But it really matters a huge amount when your talking
stuff like brake rotors, shoes, oil, and such. And I also trust Autozone's
stuff like rebuilt rack & pinions, axles and such much more than any other
place, once more, due to the volume. For example rebuilt axles - Autozone
of them from a single vendor back east and ships them all over the country,
that vendor knows that if their failure rate is too high that Autozone will
contract and go find someone else.
By contrast, I pay the extra amount to NAPA for something like a rebuilt
You cannot rely on parts sellers for diagnoses. I have overheard some
wrong things come out of the mouths of parts counter sellers talking to
with car problems. In your case you have a 10 year old car. You should be
thinking about maintainence parts like plugs and plug wires, egr and other
related stuff, cracked vacuum lines, o2 sensors, and loose electrical
long before you start pulling codes. You should also be looking at
procedures like cleaning the throttle body and fluid and filters. All of
of stuff must be completed and all maintainence done before you even think
about pulling codes. 10 year old cars tend to have a lot of these little
all start failing at once.
I have to disagree with you here. While doing the maintainence stuff is
important, pulling the codes could tell one which vacuum lines are most
likely cracked, which electrical stuff is most likely loose, etc. If you
can get the information easily, you should go for it.
Ah... Jeff... I been gone so long and you STILL get things backwards.
Ted's right... you're wrong. An inspection's easier.... FIRST!
JK... let's realize that AutoZone AFAIK is the chain that STARTED free
code reading. Since that time, there's a LOT more to it.
Yeh, I'm a Krusty old Geezer, putting up with my 'smartass' is the price
you pay..DEAL with it!
I have to disagree with you here. You have your opinion, and I mine.
With the exception of maintainence that has to be done, like replace
fluids and filters, replacing O2 sensors, spark plug wires, etc.,
replacing things without gather all available information, including the
codes, is like flying blind. Getting all the information available,
including inspection and getting the codes is the way to go.
Unless I misinterpreted Ted, he was talking about replacing things, not
just inspecting them. Of course, inspecting them should be done, as
well. I never suggested that one shouldn't do an inspection. But,
replacing parts without knowing if they are bad is a bad idea.
The other point is that by getting the code, you can check the codes
later, if needed, and see if the codes changed.
We don't have an Autozone in my area, but we do have Parts America.
I usually find myself there on Sunday afternoons, looking for a part
that I forgot to pick up during the week. They seem to have just about
anything you would want, but only two guys behind the counter and lines
10 people deep.Not only that.. the guy ringing up the sale will stop
what he is doing for a half hour just to install a battery in a car for
a guy in the parking lot, leaving the line of people unattended for
that time period. I gave up on them after that. All I needed was some
brake fluid. I drove a little further to WalMart.
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