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August 21, 2007


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You should try auto parts stores in your area. Many will check the codes for you for free in the hopes that they will get you to buy the parts to fix it while you are there.

Another options is to take it to AMCCO for a free check engine check up.

Yep, I've always just taken mine to Autozone or Napa. They will plug their scanner in and tell you what the codes are and what you should do to fix it in about 2 minutes and it's completely free.

Good suggestions above!

you can buy a scan tool to check it at home yourself for less than the $75 dealer charge.

I purchased my own scan tool for about $150 several years ago. It paid for itself about a month later. I had a check engine light that indicated a problem with the catalytic converter. The car had 79,500 miles on it and the warranty on emissions was 80,0000. When I went to the dealership, I knew the exact words to say on what was wrong, and I got a new converter at no cost ($1,000 deal). I have had several other problems and it is always nice to have some idea what is going on before you go to the shop.

For anyone that likes to keep cars for a long time, it is a great investment.

Try Autozone. They'll check it free.

I second the Auto Zone comment. I have done it before. Pep Boys and several other major chains do the same thing. It is a great business model for them. They make a one time investment of a $150 tool, then test people for free. They recommend the fix (or none if there isn't one), and of course they can sell you the part right there. They can also sell you the $150 tool, which some people actually buy, even though they can get it for free!

AutoZone - Free.

If you have a Volkswagen (or Audi) you can buy your own machine for relatively cheap (compared to professional machines) that will tell you exactly what the codes mean and a whole bunch more! You can change settings and enable and disable functions that your stealership may charge for. For example, you can program your VW to roll all the windows down with your key fob. Just google vagcom.

Great ideas, everyone.

So what do I know -- I never knew I could get this service for FREE! ;-)

Agree with many posts above, use autozone.

Then take the engine code that comes up, write it down and google it along with your car make and model. You will find some webistes & auto forums with your problem and can investigate further. It's well worth the quick time spent researching this.

I owned a Golf GTI and this saved me literally thousands of dollars (no exaggeration) since there were some known issues on engine components that weren't specifically covered but VW would make exceptions if you called their toll free number especially if you knew about the problem and can negotiate effectively. Being forewarned is good ammunition vs going to the dealer for repairs. In the latter case you are fair game to pay the maximum price.

-Big Cheese

Next time I'll be going to autozone, now that my friend that owns the diagnostic tool moved to Massachusetts. I just had him check it for me whenever I needed it over the past couple of years.

Wish I would have read this last week. My Jeep was having trouble starting without giving it gas. I took it to a repair shop that charged me $100 to diagnose it...all I needed was a new battery that I replaced myself. Next time I'll hit Autozone.

To answer the question, I have not seen any of the self-diagnostic machines around. I'm in the Midwest and we usually get everything last.

It is really incorrigible that the auto makers don't provide the status code along with the warning light and document it in the user's manual. The suggestions to work with Auto Zone aside (which is a great tip!) we should expect a more free flow of information when spending tens of thousands of dollars on a product.

I think in the world of computers everywhere and farely inexpensive technology, they should have a plain text read out of the error code and list them in the manual/online with the proper direction on how to fix it (ex. O2 sensor out of range, check/replace oxygen sensor)

I have a pesky light that AutoZone didn't give me clear directions about. It could be 3-4 different multi-$100 parts (easy enough to replace, IF I knew which one!?!) I've had problems finding a shop I can trust. I feel the dealer not only over-charges, but provided a poor pre-sale inspection (which resulted in parts needing replaced like 92 days after purchase. They covered the part "that NEVER goes bad...", but the $500 labor stuck.) The car's worth ~$8k, but could need ~$2k in work (some transmission sensor, some MAF/MAP/O2 sensor, and some engine seals according to the "free" info from friends and inspection mechanics if I wanted everything back to regular). It drives OK, but Murphey's knockin' at the door.

AutoZone didn't even TRY to sell me the parts. They didn't know which one it needed either. :-/

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