Comment 21:30 is correct. Most of the check engine lights mean nothing and can be ignored. One of my cars has had the check engine light lit for 7 years, and one has had it lit for 3. Both run flawlessly. Auto Zone will run the codes for free, and usually you can just ignore them.
Now any lights on fails inspection. The same thing Autozone has, is on our motor vehicle. I had a PO410 code, and spent the 17 bucks for a new gas cap as the O ring cracked. It's not worth wasting time to fail inspection. Maybe others can run around for 7 years with expired registration, but not here. In fact if you don't, we get a notice to mail our license plates in. And once you do that, the insurance company drops you. The old days are over. Fix the car!
With most check engine lights, there is no problem to fix. Our city dropped the engine light off requirement a couple of years ago, and I don't know of any cities or states anywhere near us that require unlit check engine lights. They have no bearing on safety, and were being used here as a means to generate revenue by unscrupulous repair shops that would charge up to $3000 to turn the lights off. There was finally so much public outcry (as well there should have been) that the requirement was dropped. Many times (most in fact) check engines come on for issues that have no effect on performance or economy, and often they come on for no reason at all.
Cars give you ample other very noticeable clues if there is really a problem, such as a drop in performance, fuel economy or overheating. As a mechanic I go by what I call "The two week rule". If a car continues to run flawlessly with no symptoms for two weeks after the check engine light comes on, it can probably be driven the rest of its life that way with no harm.
My record for driving with a check engine light is 76,000 miles. I knew what the problem was, but chose not to fix it as it actually had a beneficial effect on the car. Not all issues that cause check engine lights to come on indicate harmful effects. Computers are not infallible.
I'm curious as to what areas of the U.S. have inspections requiring that check engine lights be off? Our state, nor any of the adjoining states around us have such laws.
Delaware and Maryland are two for starters. We have been through both with family cars. In fact Maryland has dedicated emissions drive throughs. Many states today have very stringent emission tests. Have a check engine light on, and they retrieve the codes and fail it. They have both the wand to do the hydrocarbons reads (2 emissions checks) and also plug in under your dash. They see the visible check engine light; you fail immediately for any reason. If you live in Florida or Alabama for example, they are not likely as stringent as the Northeast states.
Before the drive through inspection lanes had computers, it was up to the tester if the hydrocarbons were close. If you have a late model car, be prepared. I heard NJ is very stringent; even more so than us. I suspect all states will standardize on this plug in and pass fail on the spot.
Many check engine light codes have nothing to do with either emissions or safety. Why a lit check engine light would cause a car to fail a safety/emission inspection is a mystery to me.
It's not a mystery in the Northeast; you fail right in the drive through lanes on the spot. If you want tags, it needs to be fixed. It's not a matter of an opinion; it's the law. You can't fight or argue, it's not happening. You can always drive off road with your check engine light on in the Northeast.
It's amazing what car owners in some U.S. states must put up with to own and drive a car. A few years back my best friend moved to a state that actually allowed private garages to inspect cars for the state. Car owners were totally at the mercy of unscrupulous shop owners. My friend was charged $275 to replace a tail light bulb and $1500 to replace a muffler. In addition, the yearly registration fees on his cars was in the thousands of dollars. As soon as he could, he transferred to a state that has no inspections and his registration fees are less than $100 per year. Why don't voters in states with corrupt and outrageous vehicle registration/inspection laws elect representatives who will put a stop to such corrupt practices?
I have a 2003 RAV4 with 136,000km on it. Almost got T-boned making a left turn when the gears got stuck. Having shifting issues and a banging noise when the gears shift. Called the dealer (I am in Ontario, Canada) and inquired about the extended warranty being offered in the US for this issue. Dealer claimed to have no knowledge about such an issue, but I was welcome to bring my car in for diagnosis at cost of $180. No thanks... I am not going to pay to diagnose what I already know. Toyota... you have lost a customer for life and I will never trust buying any of your cars again for as long as I live!!
RAV4 owners in Canada need to report this problem, as it is a safety issue in my opinion, and why would they only do the extended warranty in the US and not in Canada? This is totally unacceptable!
So fix your car yourself and drive to a state approved garage. I am not going to move and uproot my family and schools over getting renewal tags for 2 years.
So you are going to call your representative and tell them that your car isn't legal or safe to drive? I am for it, as I don't want heaps on the road with minimal inspections. Poor brakes, bald tires for example. I failed recently over torn wiper blades. 10 minutes to a NAPA and did it myself. I suspect good visibility can eliminate many accidents.
New cars here get 5 year tags; after that it's every 2 years. That's not a burden. We have fast drive through lanes and pay while seated in the car when you pass.
I went to YouTube and fixed my check engine light. I cleaned my MAF with CRC MAF cleaner. Cleared the codes and am street legal. No big deal at all.
The issue being discussed was lit check engine lights. They have no bearing whatsoever on a car's safety, and the emissions test is a separate procedure. In our area there were so many protests over failures due to check engine lights, that that part of auto inspections was discontinued two years ago. If it's not safety or emissions related, it serves no purpose as part of a vehicle inspection.
Thanks for sharing your opinion. The reality is that a car won't pass a vehicle inspection with a check engine light on. The inspector is not interested in your argument or opinion as to whether it poses a safety issue or not. And frankly, the rest of us aren't, either. If you can get away with driving your beater with all kinds of dash lights lit up, then good for you.