The Check Engine Light: It lights up without warning, sending one into a, “Holy frak, what is wrong with this vehicle?” tail spin. Or if you’re me, you can’t help but view it as The Car Who Cried Wolf, because it turns on whenever you fill your tank with gas and neglect to give the gas cap an extra click.
My husband gassed up the car several weeks ago.
He forgot the extra click of the fuel cap, and I had to stare at my check engine light until the tank was empty and I refueled.
After my extra click, the light turned off.
All was fine.
My husband drove from Texas to Iowa last weekend.
All was well on my tank of gas.
Then after he gassed up, the check engine light was back.
I commented on it’s reappearance when I ran some errands.
“Yes, I clicked the cap. I know I did. I swear I did.”
I didn’t believe him.
The shining light was my proof.
We drove to the Omaha Zoo on Tuesday (It was. Awe. Some. Post to come.). It consumed the rest of the gas he’d put in.
We filled up before leaving Omaha.
“Be sure you give the cap an extra click,” I told him.
He grunted and rolled his eyes and clicked the cap again.
The check engine light disappeared instantly and we drove back to Des Moines without so much as a flicker.
End of story.
So I thought.
When we started the car the next day, the check engine light was back.
What. The. Frak.
I don’t know what it means.
It could be a giant list of things.
Or the stupid gas cap being weird.
Why doesn’t the car come with some way to translate what’s going on?
Isn’t there an app for that?
To add insult to the matter, my engine began sputtering and struggling to start. Not overly so, just enough to make you go, “That doesn’t sound quite right.”
$100ish later, my van has a new battery.
The check engine light is still on.
We will be putting another 1000+ miles on the car over the next several days.
I hope it isn’t serious.
I’m still not convinced my husband didn’t do something weird. It worked just fine before he gassed it up.
Meanwhile I curse, because when the check engine light is on, the “eco” fuel mode – which gives us better gas mileage – also won’t kick on.
For 1000+ miles. In a minivan.
Send good vibes my way that the engine still runs. And the air conditioning. And the DVD player. Brakes might be good too.
I think we can survive the drive to Texas with those four things.
I’m not asking much, right?
What do you do when the check engine light turns on?