Check Engine Light

What does the Check Engine light generally signify? I was always led to believe that if the light came on, you should rush the vechicle to get
the engine repaired or else. Someone recently told me that is is really just a timer to change or clean parts related to emmissions. Anyone know?
The light just came on in my 2000 Mazda MPV. Dealer wants to charge $2,800 to make multiple repairs that may or may not solve the check engine light problem. I will get a list of what they want to do later today. The van has never passed the emmissions test here in MD anyway, so if it's an emmission problem, i probaby won't bother with the repairs. I just don't want the engine to seize up.
Help.
Mark
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It signifies that the onboard engine management computer has detected a fault in the vehicle emissions system.

Basic idiot light-ology; Red warning lights mean stop now, get the problem corrected before proceeding. Amber/orange lights mean a problem is detected but the vehicle is still driveable.
Oil pressure, engine temperature and brake warning lights are red, when they are lit, there is a serious problem and vehicle operation is apt to cause serious damage or injury (or both).
Check engine, service engine soon, ABS malfunction lights are amber, when they are lit, a problem is indicated that something in that system needs service. A flashing check engine light on a 1996 or newer vehicle indicates that a catalyst damaging missfire has been detected.

Yes, someone knows. That person told you an inaccurate and uninformed statement.

$2800.00 is a lot of money for a 6 year old vehicle, is this vehicle severely neglected?

I'd hope so... I'd also get a second opinion from someone other than a Mazda dealership.

Never, ever? Not even when it was new? Doesn't Maryland refuse registration when a vehicle can't pass an emissions test?

Ignoring emissions repairs only serves to promote more draconian emissions laws than we already have. I thank you. On the other hand, my customers probably don't.

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aarcuda69062 wrote:

If you have a friggin Mopar, (like my Dodge Dakota) the "Maintenance Required" light is red, just like the "Check engine light" is red. Remember that, unlike the "check engine light" which tells you there is a problem, the "maintenance required" light just tells you that you've driven quite a few miles and you better take it to a $tealership so that they can tell you that you SHOULD replace this and this and this and we'll charge you for all that, PLUS the cost of resetting your reminder light.
BTW, you remind me a former poster with the initials D.S.
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I have four friggin Mopars...
(like my Dodge Dakota)
Got one of them (those?) also.

Don't have one of those (them?)

The Dakota does indeed have a red check engine light*, the Intrepid has an amber check engine light, the CTD has an amber check engine light, the AAR has no check engine light. (*since my "friggin Mopars" give me absolutely no trouble, I hadn't noticed the red CE light anomoly)

WRT the maintenance required light, over the years, the EPA has made similar requirements of GM, Ford and various imports. As for them charging you, do tell us what profession _you_ work at for free...

Former?
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aarcuda69062 wrote:

I guess we can agree on something.

You obviously haven't seen my paycheck stubs. ;-)
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Cute answer but the fact that you get a paycheck means that you actually get paid. Why should anyone else work for free?
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Bob wrote:

Remember on this post we are talking about two different outputs from your car, the "check engine" light and the "maintenance required" light. The check engine light says that there is something wrong. The maintenance required light says basically that you've got some miles on your car so it's time to see if the car needs a new part or parts. I have no problem with either one and they are both actually pretty good. What bothers me about the maintenance required light is that a few manufacturers make it really hard to reset the thing. I've owned a few cars where a push of a button or two, that's conveniently located on the dash, and the reminder is gone. On a few cars (my Dakota, for example) the reset button is located on a hard to reach spot so that most people will take it to the dealer to get it reset. That is not necessary. The owner can look in the owners manual and see what should be maintained or replaced when the light comes on. A dealer charging a customer for a check engine light? No problem. Charging money to reset the "maintenance required" light doesn't quite sit right with me. I do advocate anybody working for free. I don't advocate a customer getting taken from his money when nothing is wrong either.
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What you're saying is; it is okay to charge for service, but it's not okay to charge for maintenance.
You are under the impression that all that the maintenance required light indicates is that it is time to push a button. Isn't so. And since it isn't so, it should not be -too- easy to reset, otherwise the parts that need inspection and maintenance wouldn't get inspected or maintained.
And again, it is not the OEMs that decide whether a MR sequence be implemented, it is the EPA.
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Actually, -you- are talking about two different outputs from the car. The OP asked about "check engine" lights.
MR lights haven't been implemented in over 10 years.
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.. .. ============Kruse wrote:

==================== I charge for EVERYTHING I do.
I like YOUR idea......let the customer reset it if he wants something for free.
"MY" tools cost me money, my scanners cost me money, my education cost me money.
If it's so easy to do, no education or tools needed, then........... they don't need my skill. No charge, do it yourself!
You know, I get into a lot of critical name calling scenarios on usenet because I can't quite stomach idiots as defined by Mr. Webster in his quite prolific book of explanatories on words as they are written.
and you my friend......
fall into the definition of that word if you honestly adhere to the words you've posted on the subject of rembursement as it pertains to technical skill!!!
now..... with that said.........
my house airconditioner needs some maintenance........ if you'de come on over and "git'r done" for me..................... for free.......
i'll put that light out of yers........ for free!! No charge!
~:~ MarshMonster ~is all about favors and barter services.....but not too long on hooking up his $7500 Modis for free~
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Marsh Monster wrote:

Good. You've got to eat too! First of all the worst places for a typo, I made one. My previous post should have read I <DON'T> advocate anybody working for free. If you read the sentence right after that, it should all make sense. And I know all the money that it takes to get to and to be a tech. I've been there. Also, I don't get mad at the techs who do the work. They didn't design the car and they have to put up with somebody elses design, good or bad. And most techs have the 10K+ invested in tools. I often don't agree with the factory engineering, that's all.
Now with your air conditioner that needs recharging. If you had a little light that comes on and says that it needs simple maintenance that you could do yourself (such as cleaning the coils) or that you HAD to call an AC tech to come out and do it, would you balk at spending the money to clean the coils or would you always call out the AC tech and give him the money? I thought so. Now if I ask the answer to an AC tech, I know what answer I'd get.... Once again, my fault for the typo. I don't expect you or any other tech to work for free.
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Kruse wrote in message:

============== But your post wasn't about getting anything cleaned........ your rant was about putting out the light and having to pay someone to do it. I agreed with you. Do it yerself. Put it out. Ignore the light. Don't bother with the ramifications of ignoring a warning system. Don't worry yerself with changing filters on time. Don't concern yerself with the sludge buildup, the contaminated throttle plates, or the restricted air filters. Put the light out, please.
or..... spray some clorox down yer filler tube first and then put it out and see if it comes back on......it's yer vehical, I don't care.
~:~ mm ~takes a toke, sips his crownroyal, and wonders if he oughta change that 4 year old AC filter in the closet........fk it.....the light ain't come on yet~
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o.k. back to my original question; the following repairs were recommended: replace intake manifold gaskets ($503); upper and lower intake decarbon with throttle cleaning ($245); tune-up ($179); replace sparkplug wires ($222); replace right front oxygen sensor ($319). No guarantee that these repairs would take care of the check engine light. Seems like a lot of $$$ for repairs that may or may not be needed. Would the diagnostic machine tell the technician that these specific repairs need to be done?
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Hey Mark,
I'm jumping in on this thread without ever having read your original post so I have no Idea what kind of car you have. I must say though, the prices you are quoting sound a bit excessive for most makes and models. Perhaps you need a second opinion from a more reputable repair shop. Looks kinda like they are double dipping. Some of those repairs overlap and should not be charged separately.
To answer your question though, There is no diagnostic machine that tells the technician which parts need to be replaced or repaired. Diagnostic machines only gather data and information that a knowledgeable technician can use along with an understanding of how it all works, to determine the needed repairs.
The best equipment can not fix a problem without a good technician and best technician cannot fix a problem without good equipment.
Bottom line though. There may be some repairs needed to get the vehicle to the point where the technician will be able to determine what it will take to fix the check engine light problem. Many electronic diagnostic routines require that mechanical problems be repaired first before proper diagnostics of the electronic systems can proceed. Weather or not all those repairs you listed are necessary is questionable, but that could only be determined by the technician who is working on it. If you trust that he is honest and knowledgeable then you might accept that those repairs are indeed needed regardless of weather or not they solve the check engine light problem.
--
Kevin Mouton
Automotive Technology Instructor
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Those prices are WAY high. I'd find another shop and get a different estimate. Parts wise
Intake set - 30.79 + 1.60 for throttle body gasket Valve cover set - may as well check valve travel and wear since your seeing a problem with emissions. Decarbon - about 1 can of carb cleaner and 10 minutes with a good stainless brush. 10 bucks Set of plugs - Double platinum's- about 6.00 each. Plug wires - 39 -49 bucks. Take them off one at a time and put the new ones on the same way. Match them for length and watch the routing. It needs to match the factory as close as possible. O2 sensor - 91.00 Plus you need the proper wrench to fit it (18-20 bucks which you can get back when you return it to the store)
--
Steve W.
Life is not like a box of chocolates
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The Check Engine light usually comes on because the engine management computer detects a fault e.g. a bad sensor. This may or may not affect the driveability of the engine and there may in fact be no bad sensors. On some vehicle the Check Engine light will also come on because of low oil pressure or high coolant temperature.
Mark wrote:

--
Mike Walsh
West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.A.
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normally if the engine lite comes on - it is an indication that there is some problem that needs checking, it can be minor or major, but needs attention.
on/off, on/off, on/off of the ignition key will blink a signal of what is wrong, and might be something you can fix.
and if the light plays games you could have a faulty sensor in the circuit.
you might have other indications of a problem and when you do, that might enhance the detection of the root cause.
mho ve

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snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net wrote:

He's already been told this...

On a Mazda? You're insane. BTW, you've got one too many "offs" there.

Chess, Scrabble?

And if the OP were to post the trouble codes stored in his -Mazda-, it might enhance the help he gets here.
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I think aarcuda69062 needs attention or some weird kind of validation. Why the smartass remarks? People like that give message boards a bad name. I can only hope he/she doesn't operate with the same pitiful condesending style when in public and not hiding behind a keyboard.
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Nope. just can't stand ill-informed rambling.

Dumbass comment get smartass remarks.

Try; rec.autos.tech.good.name

Why would it matter to you? And FWIW, I'm pretty much the same in person. Last time I checked, there was no law obligating anyone to put up with idiots.

As I've posted many times; take I-43 north from Milwaukee, exit 93, go west 1.5 miles. If you get lost, well, that wouldn't be surprising...
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