I have a 2001 Rav4, 5 speed with 234,800 miles on it. I have the check engine light on for over a year. Code: 0420, catalytic converter. Now I can't get an inspection due to this code, and don't want to spend $$$ for a "possible" fix. The car runs and drives great!!!
To 07:08: Watch for overheating in your Toyota. Usually the "catalytic converter" code is not anything serious, but if there IS clogging in the converter, it can cause your engine to overheat due to excess back-pressure. It can also possibly get your floor hot enough to melt your carpet padding. Not likely, but watch for heating and burning smells. Overheating that engine will ruin it really quick.
I had been driving my car for about 6 months with the check engine light and it was fine. Then one day I drove it and the check engine light starts blinking, and when I am at a stop, the car seems like at any moment it is going to turn off. I had been told that the catalytic converter was the problem when the light first turned on, but it was OK to drive. So I did, and now my car shakes and seems like it's going to turn off. I also got quoted 700 to get the catalytic converter fixed, but that was before everything else happened. What does this all mean, and is 700 reasonable?
Check engine lights are the auto industry's biggest money maker. They come on for any or no reason at all. One of our cars has had the engine light on for 6 years and runs like new. It codes as "EVAP system", which is car talk for "the dealer wants your money". Our other car has had the light on for 3 years. It codes as "engine running too cool". Since running cooler actually decreases stress on the engine and prolongs its life, I'm not about to spend hundreds fixing that. The car actually runs better and gets better mileage than it did before the light came on.
Anyone that ignores engine lights and gauges is making a mistake. A car running too cool can sludge and cause engine failure. Change the thermostat at least. Clogging a cat decreases fuel mileage, and a new cat is big bucks. Fix the sensor. How you passed vehicle inspection for 6 years is anybody's guess. Any light on in my state is a fail. I hope you don't ignore a low oil pressure light!
Who says you have to go to a dealer? Go to a place like Auto Zone and plug in the diagnostic tester. I spent 14 bucks on a 02 sensor socket and own it forever. It may tell you that you just need to tighten or replace a fuel cap. The only gripe I have is TPMs that need batteries and a tire that needs to be pulled and rebalanced. I like the plain tire gauges. TPMs on my car are 100 each. HID lights are another big expense, even doing them yourself.
Again, people have obviously been brainwashed by auto dealers and shops about the silly "check engine" lights. Any truly serious issue will manifest itself in very obvious ways. A car running too cool will not sludge the oil, nor will it stop up the converter. Even without a thermostat a car will run way too hot to allow oil sludge forming.
Also, anyone in this day and age who doesn't use synthetic oil deserves to have engine problems, and of course synthetic oil does not sludge.
Our city authorities received so many citizen complaints about the ludicrous practice of failing cars for a lit check engine light, that they dropped the practice from their inspections. A lit check engine light has nothing whatsoever to do with safety, and the exhaust pollution check is a separate procedure. Shops in our area were charging up to $3000 to reset lit check engine lights.
As a mechanic I follow the "two week" rule with regard to check engine lights. I first check the code (which virtually always is totally ambiguous) then drive the car for two weeks. If there is no drop in performance or gas mileage, I continue driving the car for as long as I own it. I owned one car that had the check engine light come on at 40,000 miles. I drove the car until it had a quarter million miles on it. It was one of the best vehicles I ever owned, and after I sold it the new owner drove it to well over 300,000 miles with nary a problem and a still-glowing check engine light.
Absolutely totally disagree with your comments. No wonder taxes go up!
I have very expensive classic cars and new ones as well. I typically add electric aftermarket gauges.
Yes, an engine failure can occur with a too cool block.
Yes, low oil pressure can ruin an engine.
Yes, O2 sensor neglect can cause an increase in fuel expense and can clog cats.
Why ignore it? In Delaware a car will never pass inspection with the light on. The tester can also tell if you unhooked the battery briefly to clear it. I would never recommend to anyone to ignore lights or gauges. It may be a faulty gauge or a loose gas cap, but it can be very expensive to buy cats vs a sensor.
Also I run synthetic in my new vehicles, but am cautious on my older ones. If you have old seals, there are leak possibilities. Also I add ZDPP with my conventional in my Big Block GMs, so I don't destroy my cam. I have a new Corvette; I run Mobil 1 as indicated right on the cap.
The one size fits all edict is not advisable. You may cost someone on here an engine. My engine on one was reading out at 150 degrees; way too cold. I switched to a 180 degree thermostat to avoid engine damage. You want to pull a thermostat; try drilling it first. If you notice, a lot of newer cars have no radiator cap. I pull the thermostat and fill when I do a flush. I have purchased engines and it's been an upgrade, not because of driving around a few days to see if matters become worse!
I hope everyone heeds some advice and does not drive around. Have it looked at, and even a tow is not a bad recommendation, if you're not sure.
That advice is wrong. Use a thermostat. You also may want a working cabin heater in December. Plus again, you'll see your fuel costs rise. 3 grand to reset lights, give us a break. Let this guy run with his dash lights on. It's ill advised and a false economy. Have your codes checked.
Please explain how an engine that runs flawlessly for over 250,000 miles with the "check engine" light on (as mine did) has been "damaged". We should all be so lucky as to have that kind of "damage".
Also, where does the comment about low OIL PRESSURE fit into this discussion? There is a totally separate light (or gauge) for that. And no, a cool running engine will not cause sludging of synthetic oil. My two '72 Plymouth Dusters used synthetic and our '70 Challenger R/T uses synthetic. Never a leak with any of them.
A lot of shops and dealers make a fortune off of car owners by scaring them into paying a fortune to reset their check engine lights. Auto Zone will gladly run the code for you at no charge, and then you can decide if it really deserves any attention or if it can be ignored. 90 percent of the time it can be ignored. If the car runs OK, doesn't lose any power or show a drop in fuel mileage, it is insane to pay thousands of dollars just to get a little light to go off. I used to put black tape over mine, but now I just let them stay on. And when friends ask "What does that light mean?". I just reply "Absolutely nothing".