Malfunction indicator?

Have a 2003 Highlander. The "malfunction indicator lamp" has been on for a couple days. The manual says "If the fuel tank is not empty or
the fuel tank cap is not loose, there is a problem somewhere in the engine, emission control system, automatic transmission electrical system, or warning light system itself. Contact your dealer to service the problem."
Sure hate going to the dealer if I don't have to, and haven't seen any problems other than the light being on. Just wondering whether this is really something to worry about...
--

Hospitality is making people feel at home when you wish they were.

...Garrison Keillor
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Unless you have someone read the fault codes, there is no way you can determine how serious it may be. A loose gas cap will turn on the light, so will a failing O2 sensor. As long as the light is not flashing, you have some leeway (a flashing MIL indicates a problem that needs immediate attention to prevent damage to another part of the system). If the problem was a loose gas cap, the light will go off after a few drive cycles. If it is a more serious problem it will stay on. Some discount auto parts stores will read the fault codes for free (AutoZone in my area is one). You could have them read the code for you and then come back for more advice.
Ed
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks Ed. Stopped at an auto supply store and had the code read -
Bank 1, Sensor 2 - downstream oxygen sensor
Not sure what this means, or how serious it might be...
--

Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt.
It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You've only given half the text. There's more.
The text half you've given tells the location of the device that is supposedly bad. The text half that's missing says what's wrong with it.
You need to give the alphanumeric code. It will be something on the order of P0141, P0133, that sort of thing. The full text can be determined from the code.
--
Tegger


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Ugh, that's all the guy gave me. Guess I'll hafta go back...
--

Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt.
It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I stopped back at the store and had it read again, it's code P0141. The guy said this affects the efficiency of the catalytic converter, but it's not critical. Dunno if I should worry about this or just let it go for now...
--

Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt.
It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

"The guy" is wrong. P0141 is a O2 sensor heater code, definitely worth fixing.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks. Is there detail somewhere on what this means, and what it might cost to fix?
--

Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt.
It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Oxygen sensors are fully functional only once they reach a certain temperature (about 750F).
It used to be that exhaust gas heat was relied upon to heat the sensor up to its proper temperature. However, under certain conditions it was possible for the sensor's temperature to fall below optimum if exhaust gas alone was the heat source. For this reason oxygen sensors were given their own source of heat.
Oxygen sensor heaters have a wicked job to do and it's common for them to fail. The only cure is replacement of the entire sensor. After ascertaining there are no wiring problems, that is...
The cost? I'd guess on the order of $250-$300, plus tax. Don't try to save money by using aftermarket parts. OEM is more expensive, but will last longer.
--
Tegger


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks Tegger. Is this maybe one of those thingies that might be covered under the extended emissions system warranty?
--

Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt.
It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

The O2 sensor may be covered under the emissions warranty if its failure causes the vehicle to fail an emissions test.
--

Ray O
(correct punctuation to reply)
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Oxygen sensors in your car are covered for 2 years or 24K miles (49 state). In California it's 3 years or 50K miles. Looks like this one will be on your dime.
--
Tegger


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Just had it done. Ugh, cost $188 parts plus $204 labor. Pretty annoying item to hafta replace, seems like they shouldn't be making a big profit on this...
--

In 1969, I published a small book on Humility.
It was a pioneering work which has not, to my knowledge, been superseded.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Hey, I was fairly close with my price guess.
And the problem is now fixed?
--
Tegger


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Well, the light is off, but who knows whether anything was really wrong or was fixed...
--

In 1969, I published a small book on Humility.
It was a pioneering work which has not, to my knowledge, been superseded.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

If the light doesn't come back on with the same code, it was truly fixed.
Really.
--
Tegger


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Ugh, I figured it might be something like that, but they were already into me for $100+ for the diagnostics (allegedly to see if it was just a malfunctioning light), and by that time it was just too much trouble to take it elsewhere. I have this survey form from Toyota, wonder if complaining will accomplish anything...
--

In 1969, I published a small book on Humility.
It was a pioneering work which has not, to my knowledge, been superseded.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

$200 converts to just under two hours labor at the usual dealer shop rate.
Have you asked (nicely, because you're trying to get a question answered, not lynch somebody) what exactly took them two hours and why two hours were charged?
--
Tegger


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

What should the parts cost? Would any dealer charge this much, or do you think my particular dealer is outta line?
--

In 1969, I published a small book on Humility.
It was a pioneering work which has not, to my knowledge, been superseded.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Asked the dealer about this, here's their response:
I looked into the repair - $100 of the labor charge was for the diagnosis to find the failed O2 sensor, and the remaining is for the replacement and then retesting to ensure that the failed O2 sensor was the only cause of the check engine light.
--

The art of conversation is not only to say the right thing
at the right time, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.