If you’re like the rest of us, you probably worry a lot about your car’s health. Maybe not enough to take it in for its regular checkups and oil changes – you can admit it, a lot of people drop the ball when it comes to keeping a strict maintenance schedule for their car – but certainly enough to give you a painful twist in your gut anytime a light pops into your field of vision on your dashboard. Sometimes it’s “check oil” light – that’s easy enough to fix. But if you’ve ever seen your “check engine” light turn on, you no doubt know the terror that can ensue.
One of the reasons the check engine light causes so much anxiety is because it’s so unspecific. Check oil, that can only mean one thing. But check engine? There’s a lot that goes on inside your engine, and rooting out the problem and fixing it can be a costly proposition. How costly?
- On average, the fee to have an auto mechanic diagnose a check engine light is $100. And that doesn’t even include fixing the problem, which could be just about anything.
- The way your check engine light works is this: your engine has a computer inside of it that constantly monitors its internal health. When it senses something’s off, the check engine light pops on to alert you. Since there are so many things that could possibly go wrong with your engine, it wouldn’t be practical to have a different light for every single possibility – and so the all encompassing “check engine” method was created.
- Once this happens, your next step is to take it someplace where a diagnostic computer can be attached to determine what the problem is. All this usually entails is an auto mechanic hooking up the diagnostic equipment so that he or she can read a certain code generated by the computer and find out what needs to be done. Easy enough – but worth $100? Not everyone thinks so, especially when you consider that one of the most common reasons the check engine light comes on is a loose or faulty gas tank cap which won’t cost you anymore than $8 to $10 to replace.
So what are your options when it comes to getting a low cost diagnosis when your check engine light blinks to life? You can either buy the diagnostic equipment yourself (not recommended because you’ll probably only ever use it once or twice) or you can locate a mechanic that won’t charge through the nose to perform this simple diagnostic. If you want our opinion, the latter is the far easier and much more practical option. We think you’ll probably agree.
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