Update 1: The problem finally solved! I went to my usual workshop (with proper appointment) and I did not had to wait for long. The mechanic took almost 1 hour to resolve the problem. The ECU was flashed and the brake switch was checked and reinstalled. The check engine warning light went away and it remained so. The mechanic informed me that I should not have the problem (not like the previous dumbass mechanic) but went further to say that if the problem still remained, the next course of action would be to change the entire brake switch itself.
Back to the original post…
Read the first instance here
(The last thing I expected to see on any car is the check engine warning light and that too on a well maintained new car. But I understand that over time all things will deteriorate and breaks down. The important thing is to get it fixed on time and without much hassle. The last thing we need is a dumbass mechanic in the equation. Image source: http://www.progressiveautogroup.com)
It was almost a perfect ride up North last weekend – the morning was cold, the traffic was light and the music on the radio was good. It was a good time to “clear those carbons” from the exhaust (I noticed that the fuel consumption often improves greatly after a long journey north).
I had my grandma in the car (she followed us to go to her younger brother’s house which was on our way) so I had to ensure that I make the necessary stop for this fragile old lady who is still going strong at a very old age. Just when I was thinking of stopping at the next R&R after Tapah, I noticed something flashing up on the dashboard – something I missed earlier because I had my left hand “covering” it (I hold the top of the steering wheel with my left and the bottom with my right). The check engine warning light was on – it never appeared before and I just did a major service to the car couple weeks ago. Maintenance has been top-notch and I don’t push the car to its limits.
Certainly something was amiss here and stopping at the next R&R made a lot of sense – I was also worried that there could be a bigger problem with the engine (although I did not notice any difference in performance and the fuel consumption kept improving). We stopped and immediately my wife, my son and my grandma got out stretching their legs and then head to the toilet, leaving the baby at the back seat (she was sleeping) and under my care. I double checked on the baby and she was sleeping rather nicely. I checked on the buttons inside the car – to make sure I had not pressed any of the wrong buttons or dials. I switch off the ignition and on again but the check engine warning light was still on. Since the baby was sleeping and my wife had came back, I switched off the engine and got out of the car and did a quick check to the air-intakes – nothing out of the ordinary. I went back in and counted to ten and switch on the ignition – the check engine warning light came on for a moment and then it went off.
I thought that was the end of it until after we had reached our destination and after driving around the town, the warning light lighted up again (good thing, it was not flashing which is an indicator of a more serious problem). Unfortunately it was a Sunday and the authorised service was closed. As before, I tried to switch off and on the ignition and as before, the check engine light went off.
I decided to head to the nearest service centre near home first thing in the morning the next day. I decided to go to the one near my house instead of the one in Taiping because I already expecting to be wasting my time at the service centre for the whole day (hallmark of any car service centre in the country, I suppose). We left to KL quite early in the morning – hoping to reach the service centre near the house as early as possible. Throughout the journey back, the check engine light did not lit up and the journey was smooth and uneventful. By the time we reached home, it was already 9 in the morning. The warning light still did not lit up. So I decided to go for a quick runabout for lunch and some investment and 2 packets of cold cendol first (it was worse in Taiping). Perhaps the long run back to KL had perhaps cleared something and everything was back to normal. So I thought. With plenty of time to kill, I decided to cancel my trip to the service centre and head out for some chores in PJ. Just as I drive out from my residential area, the nagging check engine warning light was back!
Feeling frustrated, I made a U-turn and headed straight to the nearest service centre, hoping that there will be few cars on queue on the appointment. It was not. I reached there almost at 12 pm and saw the customer area full of people (some were even sleeping on the sofa – they must have come in early) – thankfully I already an early lunch. I told the sweet lady behind the counter that I did not have an appointment but I was willing to wait as long as I could get to the bottom of the nagging check engine warning light. The lady told me that there were plenty of cars to be checked for the day but she was willing to slot me in (those who came in later without any appointment was promptly turned away).
So I waited for my turn by drinking the freebie water, reading the same old magazine over and over again and of course, taking short naps on the sofa.
It was almost 4 pm when I saw the mechanic looking at the charge sheets on the wall and selected mine. I followed him to the working area as he parked my car in the working bay and hook it up to the diagnostic computer. I stood next to him and explained on what had happened but he was not listening to me. He was seriously looking at the computer screen and waited as it run through a series of tests. I gave him the benefit of the doubt – after all, he is the professional, well trained mechanic and he knows what he is doing.
All were in green until one red mark popped up – the stop light seemed to have short-circuited and need to be grounded (the stop light were still working though). He checked something in the car. He ran the test again and I noted the same error message was still displaying on the screen. He went back and checked something – I could not see what he was doing under the dashboard and then suddenly he disconnected the computer and started to drive out the car from the working area.
He did not update me on what was the problem and what has been fixed. I caught him and asked him what was the problem and has it been fixed – he with a blur face (or rather surprised face) remarked that it has been “solved”. He then drove around the car, slammed on the brakes a couple of times and then parked it. He walked to me and passed back the keys and said settled. I asked if the problem would occur again and his remarks (with the same blur face) were “maybe, if yes, bring back the car”. It was not as assuring as I wished it to be. What the fuck he meant by “maybe”? Did he and did he not fixed the problem? And why the comment “bring back the car” – as if I had nothing better to do in my life.
I didn’t trust the mechanic, not by the way he responded to me. Just to be sure, I drove around – I still had to settle some of the outstanding errands but I kept with one eye on the dashboard. The check engine warning light did not come back for rest of the day. Perhaps the mechanic did fixed the nagging problem for good. I had a good night sleep that day – at least one problem has been resolved. The next morning as I got ready to drive to work, I was suspicious but the check engine warning light remained switched off. Is everything back to normal? Unfortunately it was not – I left the workplace in the evening and barely 10 minutes into the journey back home, the check engine warning light lit again and it has been so for past few days. Switching on and off the ignition somehow solves the issue but not on long term basis – I am not sure what else is being damaged in the process.
Damn that mechanic! Now I have waste my time again to make appointment and get my car checked again at another service centre – hopefully one that has less dumbass mechanics.
- Check Engine: Top 10 Reasons This Light Glows (wot.motortrend.com)
- What That ‘Check Engine’ Warning Light Means (thestreet.com)
- 1998 Mercedes E430 Check Engine Light On – SmogTips.com WordPress Blog (smogtipsblog.wordpress.com)
- A bad idle air control valve will trigger your Check Engine light (duxlerlibertyville.com)
- Warning: Problems In (Hindsight) Are Smaller Than They Appear! (aaronzauber.com)
- How To Spot A Shady Auto Mechanic (allstate.com)