Check Engine

Yes, this is a rant. While tooling around with the college gang somewheres about Michigan (see previous entry), my check engine light comes on. Remember when Check Engine used to mean something? Why, I remember when that meant your alternator just died, and you had two hours of drive time (with everything juice-draining off) until you’re on the side of the road waving for a taxi. Or your engine was spluttering oil all over the place and leaving a nice slick snail track down the interstate. Or that one piston has decided to achieve escape velocity through your hood. Stuff like that. Well, fast forward to 1996 (or earlier for some makers) and government/EPA-mandated OBD-II engine control modules. Now, instead of “Dead on the road in 2 minutes, pull over”, want to know what this dire warning really means?

It means that a non-critical emissions-control component has failed (or more precisely, has given an out-of-tolerance reading during two consecutive driving trips) in such a way that could potentially cause emissions to reach or exceed 1.5x their nominal value. Not to say that emissions would actually come close to the maximum allowed, only that the type of sensor failure detected could cause that level to rise to 1.5x what is normal for that particular car.

Yyyyyeah. Anyway, since I trust sensors so much, and sensor sensors even moreso (hah!), I decided I’d actually take it in (when I got around to it, of course), after hounding the Autozone dude to plug their whizbang OBDII-o-matic into my dash and read out the diagnostic codes. (Wow…a ‘standard’ protocol that can randomly use any of three different modulation schemes! How…standard…) Now a little thing about me, when I say “when I get around to it”, this time frame is usually meant relative to the age of the universe. So anyway, a month or so goes by…and wouldn’t you know it, the “malfunction” goes away on its own. (Without me even having to disconnect the car battery overnight or rip out the little tattlebox and reset it.)

PS. Yes, I know you’re probably wondering how, if I blogged this at the beginning of July, how I already know what’s going to happen a month later. Well, when your daily life is a cracked-out as mine, the producer gives you a copy of the script several months in advance and… All right, I’m still a professional procrastinator, and blogging stuff ‘when I get around to it’. (Really, is it so surprising?)

QOTD: Life is like an exploded clown: it’s really funny until you figure out what just happened.

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2 Responses to “Check Engine”

  1. Tim says:

    Testing, anti-blogspam features…

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