Last summer, I was on our family vacation. We took an incredible road trip through California, Nevada, Colorado, and Utah. We were heading from Las Vegas to Great Basin National Park. If anyone has driven that stretch of road, you will know, this is a rural area.  It was dark, the sun had just set, the three kids were nearly asleep in the back seat of the truck.  

The last town we passed was about an hour ago and the next town is Ely, Nevada (look it up, it’s the middle of nowhere), another hour away. Suddenly I see a light out of the corner of my eye. I look at my gauges and see something that makes my heart sink, an orange, lit up picture of an engine is next to my speedometer. It was the Check Engine Light…  

Check engine lights look different on many vehicles. Some say “Check Engine”, some are a picture of an engine, some say “service engine soon”. They all mean the same thing, your engine computer saw something it did not like, and it is telling you about it.  

The next step is to figure out what code is showing up. Most auto parts stores will scan the code for free, and so will Same Day. There are hundreds of different codes. Once you know the code, you know what system is showing the problem. 

The code only points to an area that has a problem, not how to fix that problem. If you go to an auto parts store to read your code, they will likely hand you a slip of paper with a list of parts. “Buy and install these parts and see me in the morning.” 

What Should You Do? 

As is usual, the answer is, “it depends…” 

How if your vehicle running? Is it lurching, is the engine light flashing, is it running rough, are any gauges telling you something is wrong? If any of these are true, it may not be ok to drive your vehicle, even over a short distance. It might be a good idea to call a tow truck to prevent further damage to your vehicle. 

If the light is solid and running just fine, you are likely good to drive to Same Day or go to your closest auto parts store. We will pull the code for free. It is possible that we will recommend that we run some tests on the vehicle to pinpoint the cause of the code. 

Our trained technicians run those tests and look at the results. Depending on the data they receive, Same Day will give you a recommendation. Our goal is to give you a solid step forward, not to give you a parts list that we hope will work. Some problems are simple, some are multifaceted. Our advisors are trained to present your options and let you make the decision. 

Back To The Road Trip 

The engine was running totally fine, all of the gauges were good. We made it to Ely. The next morning I went to the local NAPA. It was a gas cap code. Sure enough, I did not tighten the gas cap when we got gas the previous day. I tightened the cap and reset the light. No more engine lights the rest of the road trip.  

If you are close to Clackamas, come see us any time if you have an engine light that is on or if you have a general question.