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Did you know that most of the cars driving around Wyoming Michigan carry more computer power than the Apollo 121 Lunar Module that landed on the moon in 1969?
New cars sold in the Grand Rapids area have as many as twelve networked computers and over five miles (eight kilometers) of wiring. In fact, for the last decade or so, auto computers have been controlling about 85 percent of your vehicle’s functions.
Cars have sensors for manifold air temperature, coolant temperature, manifold air pressure, airflow, throttle position, vehicle speed and oxygen content. All of this electronic wizardry is pretty complicated. So how do you know when there is a problem?
It’s simple; the Check Engine light comes on. The computer monitors all the sensors and uses that information to decide what to adjust such as the fuel mix, spark timing and idle speed. In addition, the computer monitors its own circuits. When it finds a fault, it turns on the Check Engine light and stores a trouble code in the computer.
It can be pretty disturbing when the Check Engine light comes on. We wonder just how urgent it is. Generally speaking, it is not critical like a temperature or oil pressure light. When you get one of those it means STOP NOW! When the Check Engine light shows up, you should come in to our service center at Ervine’s Auto Repair to find out what the matter is as soon as possible.
Since 1996, there has been a strong emissions control component to the Check Engine diagnostic. But if your Check Engine light flashes on and off, you know that it is more urgent and you need to get it checked immediately to prevent damage. You should slow down and avoid towing or heavy loads until you can get it checked out.
Your technician at Ervine’s Auto Repair has special diagnostic equipment that will retrieve the trouble code from the computer and help him determine what is wrong. From there, we can fix it and get you back on the road.
Stop by if you’re check engine light is on.
Ervine’s Auto Repair
4311 Stafford SW
Wyoming, Michigan 49548
Have you ever had an experience like this in Wyoming Michigan? You drive through the one of those automatic car washes. When you get to the end, where the dryer is blowing, your check engine light started flashing!
You fear the worst, but within a block or two, the light stopped flashing, but stayed on. By the next day, the light was off.
You wonder; “What was going on?” Well, it’s actually a good lesson in how the Check Engine light works.
Your air intake system has a sensor that measures how much air is coming through it. When you went under the high-speed dryer, all that air was blasting past the sensor. Your engine computer was saying, there shouldn’t be that much air when the engine is just idling. Something’s wrong. Whatever’s wrong could cause some serious engine damage.
Warning, warning! It flashes the check engine light, to alert you to take immediate action.
It stopped flashing because once you were out from under the dryer, the airflow returned to normal. Now the engine control computer says the danger is past, but I’m still concerned, I’ll keep this light on for now.
Then the Check Engine Light goes off in a day or two.
The condition never did recur, so the computer says whatever it was, it’s gone now. The danger is past, I’ll turn that light off.
Now a flashing check engine light is serious. You need to get it into our Wyoming Michigan shop as soon as possible. But if it stops flashing, so you have time to see if the problem will clear itself or if you need to get it checked. How does the computer know when to clear itself?
Think of it this way. The engine control computer is the brain that can make adjustments to manage the engine. Things like alter the air to fuel mix, spark advance, and so on. The computer relies on a series of sensors to get the information it needs to make decisions on what to do.
The computer knows what readings are in a normal range for various conditions. Get out of range, and it logs a trouble code and lights up the check engine warning.
The computer will then try to make adjustments if it can. If the computer can’t compensate for the problem, the check engine light stays on.
The computer logs a trouble code. Some people think the code will tell the technician exactly what’s wrong?
Actually, the code will tell the technician what sensor reading is out of parameters. It can’t really tell you why, because there could be any number of causes.
Let’s say you’re feeling hot. You get your heat sensor out – a thermometer – put it under our tongue and in a minute or two you learn that you have a fever of 104 degrees.
You know your symptom – a fever – but you don’t know what’s causing it. Is it the flu, a sinus infection or appendicitis?
You need more information than just that one sensor reading. But it does give you a place to start and narrows down the possible problems.
There are reports on the internet telling you that you can just go down to an auto parts store and get them to read your trouble code or buy a cheap scan tool to do it yourself.
There are two problems with that. First, the computer stores some trouble codes in short term memory, and some in permanent memory. Each manufacturer’s computer stores generic trouble codes, but they also store codes that are specific to their brand.
A cheap, generic scan tool, like you can buy or that the auto parts store uses, doesn’t have the ability to retrieve long-term storage or manufacturer specific codes. Your Wyoming Michigan service center has spent a lot of money on high-end scan tools and software to do a deep retrieval of information from your engine control computer.
The second problem is that once you’ve got the information, do you know what to do with it? For example, a very common trouble code comes up when the reading on the oxygen sensor is out of whack.
So the common solution is for the auto parts store to sell you a new oxygen sensor, which are not cheap, and send you off on your way. Now your oxygen sensor may indeed have been bad and needed replacing. But the error code could have come from any of a dozen of other problems.
How do you know the right solution? Back to the fever analogy, do you need surgery or an aspirin? Leave it to the pros at Ervine’s Auto Repair. Give us a call at (616) 532-6600 and let us help you resolve your check engine light issue.
Chelsea Vives: Awesome service!! They were extremely helpful and friendly! I loved how they were accommodating to the customers and being very organized with after hours drop-offs and pick-ups. They were also very quick with fixing my car which was great.
Andy Krafft: Ervine's has provided great service for me throughout my college years! They do their best to make time for customers and understand the importance and value in quality service. Would definitely recommend!
Erin O'Brien-Jenison: The staff is very friendly. The technicians take the time to explain repairs in detail. The loaner car service is very convenient for my family. Each of my experiences with Ervine's has been very positive.
Jamie Riehle: My car needed a lot of work and being relatively new to the area, I had to rely on online reviews. Ervine's got great feedback, so I made an appointment through their website. I was contacted almost immediately and scheduled very quickly. The repairs took a few days, but with the free loaner it was no big deal. They explained everything to me, helped me prioritize which repairs to do first, and Jamie even entertained my 5-year-old while I spent 10 minutes on the phone with my bank to get my payment to go through. I may have been able to find someplace a little cheaper, but you can't pay for the excellent customer service at Ervine's. The lobby is clean, has fresh coffee, and is very professional. As a woman I've been intimidated going into car shops but I never felt that way at Ervine's. I'll definitely be returning.
Kaitlin McDowell: I had a great experience at Ervine's. I know very little about my car beyond turning it on, so I was relieved when the staff were willing to spend extra time explaining to me exactly what is going on and helping me to be an informed consumer. I also appreciated that they are not trying to sell something-- I did not actually need the repair that the dealership had told me to IMMEDIATELY deal with, and the folks at Ervine's were willing to tell me that when they could have made a buck doing the repair. The visit was so painless I even got to run errands while I was waiting using one of their fabulous loaner cars. Thank you so much!