Friday Firesmith – Check Engine

The last time I had my tires rotated, the yellow tire inflation light came on. No big deal at all, but try as I might, I couldn’t get it to go off. Air in, air out, so when they rotated the tires this time, the light still stayed on. The next day, I was going to go back and have them check out what was going on, but then the infamous and murky, “Check Engine” light came on, along with my anti skid light. My cruise control stopped working, and it was impossible to accelerate quickly. All hades had broken loose. 

If you go on social media and ask, “What do you think the problem is here?” You’ll get the right answer, but you’ll also get a dozen more answers ranging from “Check your battery,” to “It’s the Russians hacking into your phone to steal your guns from Jesus.”  I Googled the issue, forming the question differently a few times, and the thing that made the most sense was a sensor had gone bad, and once one of the “Check Engine” sensors go bad, it cascades into taking out a few more systems, hence the cruise control being dead, and the acceleration being missing in action. 

I went to one of those box parts stores to get a free test and the indifferent but interesting looking 12 year old girl told me the sensor was dead. No, I doubt she was really 12, but at my age anyone under thirty looks like they’re still in grade school. This woman has some great tattoos, and a very unique face, but she was bored to death, and anyone her age thinks guys my age are a hard sneeze away from cardiac arrest. 

Back to the tire place, where they replace the tire sensor and tell me the “check engine” icon is beyond their ken. I must travel to the dealership, and that means I’m about to take a very serious hit as far as money goes. 

At the dealership, the overly friendly manager offers me free doughnuts and coffee, as well as a free diagnosis. While waiting, I eat the doughnuts, drink the coffee, and search the internet on how much I can get for a kidney. The manager returns in thirty minutes, right after a piece of my liver is listed on eBay, and tells me I have mice. 

Mice? As in rodents? 

Yes. There’s a wire that’s been chewed through in the bowels of the truck, and they can fix it, but it’ll take some time because they have to get both ends to replace the whole wire. 

Okay, but how much will it cost? 

$137.00, and they’re going to replace the sensor, just in case.

An hour later I’m on the road, all the warning lights are off, I can accelerate easily, and my cruise control is back. I’m not a big fan of dealerships, but I have this odd feeling that I just got away from that place as cheaply as was possible. I have a sugar buzz from the doughnuts, a caffeine buzz from the coffee, and have to cancel my liver on eBay now. 

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

17 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Check Engine”

  1. Honestly, $137 is pretty cheap in this day and age.

    Do like it has been suggested for RV owners. Hang a couple of pieces of broken up Irish Spring soap bars in a old pair of nylons under the hood of the car. The smell drives off the rodents.

    On the other hand, as a former Paramedic, I met some patients like those described as one hard sneeze away from a full blown cardiac arrest. As for me, I sneeze too much from allergies, so it would have to be something else.

    • David, I own a Toyota that’s ten years old, and that dealership sold it to me. They’ve been trying to get me to trade it in, and I think that might have swayed the price. But honestly, unless one of those really young women made a real effort at getting me undressed, I’m not going to hit on one at all. I’ve had more than one woman relate some story about an older guy that made a total fool of himself chasing a girl young enough to be his granddaughter.

  2. check engine light has been on in my 07 ram for over 10 years its the oxygen sensors the clowns at EPA dont know that diesel engines are different for gas the smog stuff clogs up in diesels so if I replace it about 3 months later its back on

  3. My dealer charges $125 to diagnose the problem. If they had to get to both ends to replace it rather than repair it it must be some sort of dedicated wire (more expensive). I wonder what the sensor was for that put the engine in limp mode?

  4. My mother had a persistent problem with the tire light coming on in her Toyota Avalon. Took them weeks to figure out it was the spare that was going flat. Air in the spare fixed the problem…

  5. Barry, I could have lived with the lights, but the death of my cruise control, along with the inability to accelerate was an issue. I drive a stick so when I want to go quick and I need to go quick, it’s there. Not having that would, eventually, get me killed.

  6. “Secondary Input” something or another. It sounded like I was going to have to sell a dog to survive it. But if the sensor was fifty bucks, and the wire was fifty bucks, and they’re charging at least that an hour, I have no idea how I walked out unscathed.

  7. Star Tyger, that’s just insane. If they have a light to tell you a tire is slack they ought to have another to tell you which one. You haven’t been around in a while, how have you been?

  8. you mean the Valdosta Toyota dealership? – I bought my first car there when it was still on Ashley (back in a decade before I had to worry about cardiac arrest every time I sneezed). They gave me a pizza when we closed the deal (Pizza hut was right across the street) – I’m pretty sure they got their money back…

  9. That’s pretty awesome for a dealership!

    Second: In my William Shatner Captain Kirk Voice: “What does Jesus need with guns?” 😉

  10. That’s dirt cheap for a dealership. Hell, when I worked at one in the ancient days it was $50 bucks an hour for labor. We charged at least 1-2 hours to diagnose. They must really like you, or want your truck.

  11. Dangit; no wonder I can’t find your listing anymore to see if I won. Now it’s back to eBay–then to the store for a nice chianti. And some fava beans.

    I just got the climate control module replaced on my ’98 Accord so I can have air conditioning and defrost. Yeah!

    Now if I can figure out why all the lights come on the car diagram (the one that shows which door is ajar) while I am driving, it will almost be good as ancient.

    I am glad you got your ride fixed for so little.

    • Tim, I remember when anyone you knew could help you fix your car. Hell, all parts were about the same, and you could so to a junkyard for a water pump and spend a day drinking beer and turning bolts. Now, NASA has to get involved and you hope you don’t accidently launch a nuke when you reboot your car.

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