The Check Engine Light

Short Story Day 7 of 365

Stanley was driving to work in his 15-year-old pickup.

The Check Engine light lit up.

“Not again,” he said out loud. Between his pickup and his wife’s old beater, they were constantly battling the Check Engine light.

Nothing major, really, adjusting the gas cap, patching a vacuum leak, or changing an oxygen sensor. No catalytic converter replacement yet, knock on wood. Prior to him owning those two vehicles, he hadn’t a clue what a vacuum leak or oxygen sensor was but learned fast to detect them lest he hand over his first and second born to the mechanic to pay for detection and subsequent repair.

At home that night he got out the OBD-II scanner to plug it in and let it spit out the codes to see where he could look first.

When he saw the number of codes it came up with, he was shocked: 17.

“This has got to be a mistake,” he muttered and then cleared the codes and ran it again.

17 errors.

Stanley rubbed his forehead, and began weighing his options. The truck was 15 years old with 221,000 miles on it. It was starting to show its age. A month before he had looked up the value on two different websites and both showed it to be close to $2000 if it were in Excellent shape.

Babe, as Stanley called it, was in Fair shape.

Taking the truck to the mechanic even after he diagnosed the problem could end up costing half the truck’s value. Before he had purchased the OBD-II scanner, the service desk man at the repair shop let him know the general rule for the Check Engine light: if the light comes on and there’s nothing noticeably wrong with the truck’s performance, then the diagnosis and repair can wait a bit. If, however, there are apparent performance problems, take the vehicle in right away.

He wasn’t ready to get rid of the truck, but he didn’t want to keep sinking money and time into it.

Stanley closed the hood, wiped his hands, and went inside. “Hon, do you remember where I put that black electrical tape?”

“What do you need it for?”

“Oh, a little Check Engine light problem I’m having. I just need about two inches.”


    1. Problem solved! Now if it starts blinking, that’s a bigger issue.
      Probably should have put a disclaimer on this post…not mechanical advice by a licensed professional.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *