Have you ever had an experience like this in Coralville, IA? 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 starts flashing!
You fear the worst, but within a block or two, the light stops flashing, but stays on. By the next day, the light is 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 Off Campus Auto Repair as soon as possible. But if it stops flashing you can wait a few days, 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 him 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 F (40 degrees C).
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 online or that the auto parts store uses, doesn't have the ability to retrieve long-term storage or manufacturer specific codes. Your Coralville, IA, 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 is 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 Off Campus Auto Repair. Give us a call and let us help you resolve your check engine light issue.
Best Auto Repair in the Area!
We remain fans of this comprehensive auto repair business. Feel blessed to have found them!
-Daleine & Jack C.
I took my '88 mercury ford cougar into them to get my transmission fluid & transmission filter changed. They where informational about if something was already wrong with the transmission, then the work that they were going to do could make it worse.
They let me drive a nice loaner car for free, without having to fill out any paperwork, for as long as my car was in the shop.
On the bill, they had recommend work that needed to be done at some point, that included the price of each job.
They didn't push for the most expensive thing to be done first, they actually recommend the 2 cheapest things be done first, which was the back break light, so that I don't get pulled over by the cops, & the serpentine belt, so it wouldn't end up breaking in me.
I highly recommend them to everyone with car problems & I plan on getting all recommend car work done there.
Office staff was courteous and knowledgeable. I would definitely recommend their services to my friends. Thanks for repairing my vehicle and making it sound like a new vehicle.
-Matt M. - Iowa City
Traveling from Rapid City to Indianapolis my dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree. I want to thank Off Campus Auto Repair for fitting us in and getting us back on the road quickly. Their honesty and thorough explanation was greatly appreciated.
-Carson S. - Rapid City, SD
I had the pleasure of meeting Harold today who was very kind, personable, and knowledgable. He was a delightful man who replaced my battery very quickly, while we shared various personal stories in the process. Could not have asked for better service.
-Robby B. - Iowa City, IA
Our vehicle blew a spark plug in Iowa City on a Sunday. Being 7 hours from our home in Ohio, off campus not only provided quick and professional towing for our vehicle, their staff also provided a loaner car for us to get food, lodging and a rental. Since we had to return to Ohio prior to repairs, the off-campus staff was thorough in keeping us informed on the status of repairs, as well as providing an exact cost estimate along the way. In a world of sketchy dealerships and repair shops, I was completely blown away by the service provided by the off campus technicians. I would like to thank James, Keith and the entire off campus crew for taking great care of both my vehicle and family during this ordeal, and would encourage anyone reading this post to use off campus if you need a tow or vehicle repair while in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area.
-Ryan D. - Beavercreek, Ohio
-Bill - Coralville Iowa 5224
I had an accident returning to MI. Off Campus Towing picked up my van and they were very nice to even take me to a hotel, and that was only the beginning of their over the top helpfulness. The accident was on 9-10-15. They were very helpful in getting the insurance company to appraise the van Then Off Campus Repair took over. They put the Van back to together with excellent workmanship. Everyone of the employees were over the top helpful. Beautiful facility and they know their craft. I highly recommend Off Campus Towing and Repair. Thanks!
-Bill and Margo M. - Fenton MI 48430
My A/C seized between Nebraska and Pennsylvania. They were able to work me in and get me back on the road quickly. Complete professionals, courteous and would even recommend Off Campus Repair to Grandma!
Off Campus keeps us safely rolling year after year. Efficient, knowledgeable, HONEST professionals - so happy we found them when we arrived in the area.These guys have ALWAYS given us the best value for our money.
Outstanding service and polite employees. You can trust this business completely!