John Whalen's Blog

Thoughts from the Road

What Does The Check Engine Light Mean?

What Does My Check Engine Light (Service Engine Soon) Light Mean?
The Check Engine Light (CEL) is perhaps the least understood Malfunction Indicator Light. It is one of the most recently added warning lights (1980). It lights when there are no apparent symptoms. It is often perceived as being related to pollution controls only. Also, you may have been advised by someone else to ignore this light: we do not recommend ignoring this light.

Years ago, on-board computer systems weren’t very accurate and they had less direct control of the fuel and ignition systems. Today’s on-board computers are in total control of the fuel system and ignition system, processing about 60,000 pieces of information per second. Failures detected by the CEL no longer pertain to just pollution controls.

All engine sensors are part of a closed loop or feed-back system. When one part is on the fritz, it can cause problems for other sensors, the catalytic convertor – the expensive part(s) of the exhaust system, and even for internal engine parts such as piston rings and valves. Diagnosing a Check Engine Light immediately and addressing repairs can stop problems before they cascade into bigger problems.

Your On Board Computer – The Basics
Your vehicle’s computer is known as the Powertrain Control Module (PCM). As part of the architecture of the system, your vehicle is equipped with several electronic monitors inside the PCM. According to the Motorist Fact Sheet (available from the Department of Motor Vehicles), there are up to eleven possible monitors, but presently no vehicle has all eleven monitors. The number and type of monitors your vehicle has is determined by the manufacturer’s emission control strategy. The eleven possible monitors are:

Continuous Monitors: These three monitors are found on every gasoline OBDII vehicle.
1.) Misfire
2.) Fuel Trim
3.) Comprehensive Components

Non-Continuous Monitors: The following eight monitors are very different in design. Certain conditions must be met before a test or series of tests on a system can be completed by the PCM.
4.) Catalyst (CAT)
5.) Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)
6.) Evaporative (EVAP)
7.) Oxygen (O2) Sensor
8.) Secondary Air
9.) Heated Catalyst
10.) Air Conditioning (AC) System
11.) O2 Sensor Heater

For the purposes of the emissions portion of the New York State Inspection, the readiness status of all supported, non-continuous monitors are only considered in making the OBD II pass or fail determination. For most gasoline-powered vehicles, this involves three to five monitors.

The CEL will come on if any of your vehicle’s equipped system monitors detect a failure. Each system is comprised of multiple parts; any of which may be involved in the malfunction. Therefore, proper diagnostics are required to determine the system(s) involved with setting the CEL, and to pinpoint which part(s) involved in the system(s) need to be replaced. Call Whalen Automotive at (518) 272-8601 immediately if your CEL is on.

A Flashing Check Engine Light Means Pull Over ASAP And Call For A Tow!
If your CEL is flashing (not solid), pull over and have it towed to Whalen Automotive immediately! A flashing CEL indicates that your engine is misfiring. Driving while your engine is misfiring can cause permanent engine damage. Whalen Automotive is AAA-Approved. We also have a secure key drop box outside the office, located at 1003 Ninth Avenue, Watervliet, New York.

What Does My Check Engine Light (Service Engine Soon) Light Mean? The Check Engine Light (CEL) is perhaps the least understood Malfunction Indicator Light. It is one of the most recently added warning lights (1980). It lights when there are no apparent symptoms. It is often perceived as being related to pollution controls only. Also, […]

The Right Stuff!

The chemicals, fluids and oils used in your vehicle can be quite specific to your vehicle. It is important to the longevity of your vehicle’s components to use the right fluids. Below are three examples.

A Toyota owner comes in asking if we do transmission work because her transmission started slipping and hesitating. The culprit? Generic automatic transmission fluid. Her boyfriend was trying to be helpful by doing some of the needed work himself. Fortunately, a transmission flush using the manufacturer recommended Toyota fluid eliminated all symptoms.

A Honda owner decides to try Whalen Automotive when the fast-service chain can’t figure out what’s wrong his vehicle: during cold months, he can’t shift into gear until his engine is warmed up. The culprit? Generic manual transmission lubricant. The owner shopped around to get the best price. Unfortunately, he ended up having to pay for the same service twice – We ensured genuine Honda fluid was used.

Did you know that automatic transmission fluid contain ‘friction inhibitors’ specific to the transmission it’s designed to be used in? Honda has 2 types, Toyota has 3 types, Chrysler has 3 types, GM has 2 types, etc. This is just one of many examples.

Whalen Automotive takes pride to use the proper fluids and lubricants in every vehicle we work on. We stock a minimum of 5 types of antifreeze, 8 types of automatic transmission fluid, 4 types of manual transmission lubricant, and 2 types of brake fluid… to name just a few. We can also quickly obtain fluids that aren’t normally stocked.

We also have genuine parts available: Honda Motor Co., Inc. for Honda, Toyota Motor Corporation for Toyota, AC/Delco parts for GM vehicles, and Motorcraft parts for Fords, etc. Who says only the dealers have the “right stuff” for your vehicle?

 

At Whalen Automotive – we’ve got the right stuff!

The chemicals, fluids and oils used in your vehicle can be quite specific to your vehicle. It is important to the longevity of your vehicle’s components to use the right fluids. Below are three examples. A Toyota owner comes in asking if we do transmission work because her transmission started slipping and hesitating. The culprit? […]

Dealerships DON’T Want You To Know This!

Have you ever been told your vehicle needs a repair…only to find out your warranty just expired? Whalen Automotive technicians frequently spot items that need repair which are covered by the dealership’s warranty…within the warranty period. These items seem to go unnoticed during services at dealerships.

Our intention at Whalen Automotive is to have your vehicle last as long as possible. We are not in the business of selling new or used vehicles. We will inform you when your vehicle is nearing the end of its useful lifecycle so you can plan ahead. We also perform used-car evaluations so you can make an informed purchase, independent of the seller’s say-so.

We pay extra attention to details: lubricating parts that move and sealing or painting parts that don’t. We use anti-seize compound on lug studs and wheels. This prolongs the life of brake rotors, wheels, and hubs. Whalen Automotive recommends simple services that save you money in the long run. For example, annual brake caliper lubrication is very inexpensive compared to prematurely replacing brake calipers that are seized (unable to move freely).

Dealership mechanics are usually paid on the flat-rate system. What does that mean? It means that certain jobs pay more than others. Perhaps you’re wondering if dealership mechanics are recommending services based on their paycheck, rather than your vehicle’s specific needs. Or maybe you’re wondering if taking time to properly check your vehicle thoroughly pays much at all.

Whalen Automotive technicians are paid by the hour regardless of what that hour involves. In other words, our technicians are paid the same rate to check and evaluate your vehicle’s specific needs, as well as to provide maintenance services and repairs. Our technicians also work efficiently as a team.

Dealerships service vehicles based on the manufacturer’s age and mileage recommendations. It’s a one-size fits all approach. You probably realize that the only thing ‘one-size fits all’ fits is… mediocrity.

Whalen Automotive technicians are experts with factory/ dealer service schedules. We’ll even stamp your service record book, ensuring you remain covered under manufacturer warranty.

Additionally, Whalen Automotive technicians understand that people drive differently and under different conditions, all of which can affect your vehicle’s unique needs. Whalen Automotive technicians care enough to engage a comprehensive, holistic approach to your vehicle in real time.

Quality. Integrity. Service. The choice is yours. Choose Whalen Automotive! To schedule your appointment, please call the office at (518) 272-8601.

Dealerships DON’T Want You To Know This! Have you ever been told your vehicle needs a repair…only to find out your warranty just expired? Whalen Automotive technicians frequently spot items that need repair which are covered by the dealership’s warranty…within the warranty period. These items seem to go unnoticed during services at dealerships. Our intention […]

  

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