CES / SES / CEL unpacked

28 12 2010

Oil change interval blog entry still forthcoming.  So as to keep things moving, it has occurred to us lately that several people have asked questions about another matter:

Check Engine Soon / Service Engine Soon / Check Engine Light

These are all one in the same, for the most part, and there certainly are other variations.  However, they are all seeking to accomplish a similar if not identical task… calling your attention to a “potential” problem.  There a few things to keep in mind about this indicator light.  For starters, there are literally hundreds (or more) of reasons that warning light may have decided to illuminate.  We’ll come back to this in a minute.  Second, you may not necessarily need repair as much as “scheduled maintenance.”  It is possible that you require both.  Last but certainly of equal significance is the fact that ignoring any such warning often leads to increased risk.

To briefly revisit the first point above, here’s a helpful way of approaching a warning light of this type:

Try and recall when the last time was that you had your vehicle in for routine service, such as an oil change or another semi-regular service.  If you are due by miles or time, there is a good chance your warning light is more of a “reminder” than anything else.  While there are no guarantees without first confirming through proper diagnosis, the odds certainly have proven that your visit might not reveal anything major.  Finally, are you noticing any differences with the way the vehicle operates, handles, drives, etc?  This may be the most important factor to help you understand whether you’re facing a potentially greater issue.  Vehicles these days appear to be designed in such a way that lends a “warning” indicator to just about every form and function available.  You need pressure in one or more of your tires?  There’s a sensor light for that.  You hear grinding, scraping, or squealing coming from your wheel wells?  There’s a brake indicator light for that.  Sound familiar?  (No offense to Apple)

At the very least we recommend that you consult your owner’s manual for recommended maintenance intervals specific to your vehicle.  Every manufacturer seems to be a little different so pay special attention to your particular schedule.  In other words, your friend’s manual might not suffice if you’ve lost yours, unless of course you drive identical vehicles.  Chilton’s and/or Haynes generally make comparable reference guides.  If you need something at a moment’s notice, check your local library or bookstore for one of these and it should tide you over until you officially replace your owner’s manual.

To close, with all due respect it is impossible for our team to diagnose the reason for your warning light over the phone.  There are multiple benefits to you paying us a visit but none more important than the personalized service we have the opportunity to extend face to face.

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