Wednesday, April 04, 2007

It's Obvious! (That I'm an Idiot)

Check Engine LightSometimes I feel as if I intentionally seek out situations to make me feel stupid. Then there are other times when I think the world is just out to get me.

Yesterday, while driving near my home, I happened to glance down at the dashboard and saw the sight that brings chills to every driver.

"Check Engine Soon"

Oh, great. That usually means about a $500 repair, if we're lucky.

So Lisa and I drove down to the dealership to have them check it out. After all, we were planning on driving up to Manistee to visit my folks this weekend and I really didn't feel like driving in a dicey car all the way out there. The added tension would do nothing for my sweetness-and-light disposition.

Before they would do anything at the dealership, we first had to agree to pay for the analysis. $115 dollars up front. Ouch! Of course, we didn't really have much choice, so we signed on the dotted line and headed back home.

About an hour later, I got a call from the good folks at the service counter. They had solved the problem! Hallelujah! So, what was the problem? Was the frammenjantz bent? Did you have to replace the confabulator belt? Oh, yeah, I know a lot about cars. No, it wasn't anything like that...

The gas cap was loose.

Now, did I feel like an idiot? Yes. Especially considering that Lisa had suggested that I check the gas cap. Of course, I didn't think it could be that as I had last filled the tank four days ago and had been driving around ever since. Still, I guess I do get an entry in the "stupid husbands" competition.

Men, if you don't know about this event, just ask your wife or girlfriend what she and her friends talk about when they get together.

In my case, though, I would like to plead extenuating circumstances. I submit, that if an error code indicates that there is a problem with the engine, then the likely problem is the noisy block of metal, rubber, and plastics under the hood of the car, not the gas cap. That's kind of like telling someone with a hangnail that they might need orthopedic surgery on their left foot.

Fortunately, the dealership took pity on me and gave me the special "car idiot" discount of only $57 for the whole job, including analysis. Must have been my lucky day.

So, have you run into other misleading error codes?


Debby said...

I have also received stupid messages from various car dashboards, but really the most stupid messages I have received have been from my computer when it tells me that "error 45B has diabled the fragamabotz, which has tendered the meathook dull" or something like that. The computer world makes the car dashboard look like a beginner.

Anonymous said...

But did the problem actually involve error 45B and the fragamabotz?

"Check Engine" is a flat out lie if the problem is a gas cap.

Anonymous said...

Your car is working exactly as intended. It made us money, didn't it? You customers are always complaining about minor inconveniences just because you're too greedy to pay us for them. We could put actual error codes up and include a look-up manual, but our engineers are not that organized, trust me. Plus, it would cost us 30 cents in parts... just so you can tighten your gas cap without paying us! What would we do then? How would we make money Huh? Customers, wish we could just get rid of them all. Hey, while I got you, can I sell you a windshield wiper blade for $120 with installation?

Spencer said...

So I feel like I should say something funny here. But what I really have to say is Don't go to the dealer!

I'll bet dollars to donuts that my mechanic would not have charged me for that visit, because he didn't actually have to do anything. I've had the experience: I drove up with a problem, he came out with his little computer diagnosis thingy, hooked it up, read off the code, said "here's your problem", and then he charged me $3 to replace the faulty fuse.

Unknown said...

Thank you all for the comments.

Spencer, where is your mechanic located? Lisa has always sworn by her local mechanic when she lived in Toledo, but she hasn't had a chance to locate one since she moved here.