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93 Ford Van Check Engine Light

My 93 Ford Van has a check engine light that can’t be turned off. I’m told I can’t pass the smog test with the light on. My mechanic tells me there is nothing wrong with the engine. He says he can’t get a part to fix the computer. My van is low mileage. I use it to transport my disabled husband. I do not want to get rid of it. Can anyone help me, PLEASE!!??

Did the mechanic not tell you what code or codes were present? Without knowing that it’s near impossible to offer any help.

I have no idea what he means by “can’t get a part to fix the computer”.Is he saying the computer is bad?

There’s a number of things to check before condemning the computer.

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He didn’t tell me of any codes, but I can go through my maintenance records and see if he wrote it down. Something I can’t do right now and my mechanic retired and sold the building. I understood he meant the computer was bad. Anything you have to offer, I’d be grateful for. Even if you can tell me what to ask the next mechanic. I will follow up though. Thank you

You don’t say where you live, but here in Arizona, emissions testing does not consider the “check engine” light or any onboard diagnostics on any vehicle from 1995 or older.

The emissions test consists of a visual inspection of the underhood components and exhaust system underneath the car to make sure nothing was removed/tampered, a treadmill test, an idle test, and a pressure test of the gas cap. As long as the vehicle is not polluting excessively, and none of the required emissions controls have been removed, it will pass even if the “check engine” light is on.

Of course, models from 1996 and newer must pass the OBD II diagnostics, and cannot pass emissions if any trouble codes are present, even if the code is for something silly and there is no additional pollution. Also, they read the VIN from the computer, which is a hassle if you needed to replace the PCM with a junkyard unit for some reason.

You didn’t say which engine your van has, but I’m guessing the 5.0L V8 because that’s what most handicap conversion companies used in that van.,1993,e-150,5.0l+v8,1111992,electrical,engine+control+module+(ecm+computer),2896

There’s the computer, still available for sale. If your mechanic doesn’t know how to find it there, he might not be the best mechanic. It’s entirely possible he’s completely wrong to blame the computer in the first place. I’d encourage you to get a second opinion.

Thank you so much for your input. I know I don’t have a V8, because we bought the van as a shell and adapted it for his needs. I’ll find out the engine size and follow through with a new mechanic. My other mechanic retired. I’m 79, but I do like driving this van and taking it to go camping. I really appreciate your help.

Thank you for responding. I live in California. I know the engine is clean. Only driven for long journeys. It has always passed the smog test. I think I need to take it to another mechanic and start again. I do appreciate all the input I’m getting from my question.

Have someone look under hood and locate the self diagnostic connectors.

The large connector may have cap that says TEST. Or it may be plugged into a plastic socket to protect it.

Here’s how to pull the codes from your OBDI Ford van.

Now you have the information on how to pull codes to determine why the Check Engine light is on.


If you don’t have a V8, then you can only have the 6-cylinder motor (unless someone swapped in something that never came with that van, which would be a very strange thing to do with a van that isn’t owned by someone who can work on it themselves).,1993,e-150,4.9l+l6,1111981,electrical,engine+control+module+(ecm+computer),2896

There’s the computer for that engine, so what I said about your mechanic still stands.

You live in a state that is extremely strict, as far as emissions goes

You have to have written proof that you spent x amount of dollars and the bureau of automotive repair has to determined that the necessary part isn’t available . . . or isn’t available for a reasonable cost . . . before they’ll even consider giving you any kind of waiver or financial assistance

Like the others said, you have to start with a recent and competent diagnosis. In other words, not Pep Boys

If the mechanic determines that the part needed to fix the vehicle isn’t available, you can get the bar involved, and they can also try to locate it for you, might even be a used part.

Do you live in California? Is it really true that a 1995 or older vehicle will not pass emissions there if the “check engine” light is on, even if it would otherwise pass the treadmill test, etc? That is the real question here.

I live in California, and perform smog inspections

The answer to all of your remaining questions is yes

as I mentioned earlier, there is always the possibility of getting the bar referee involved, after it’s been shown that a reasonable effort has been made to repair the vehicle, to no avail

In fact, it might be wise to contact them before going broke trying to fix the vehicle

However, this is all dependent on an accurate diagnosis . . .

I know it’s a V6 engine. We bought it new. However, as others have pointed out, we live in California so have to meet a higher standard. I will go back through my records and see if I can find documentation of efforts to solve the computer problem. I appreciate all the speedy input I have got.

I live in Calif and have a Corolla of similar vintage and expect that if the CEL is on it wouldn’t pass emissions. Never had this issue, so don’t know for sure however. Most of the reasons a CEL would come on have emissions ramifications, so it is probably the case. Stopping by an emission testing station and asking is what I’d do, then you’d know for sure. To get to the bottom of why the CEL is on OP needs to post the diagnostic test codes. Any good mechanic can read those out for you. Then just post them here to get some ideas what might be wrong. Don’t agree to replace the engine computer until you do this, b/c a failed engine computer usually isn’t what causes this. And replacing the computer when it isn’t required can bring on all sorts of other problems. There’s a good chance this can all be resolved without much difficulty once an experienced mechanic is on top of it.

Thank you. Will follow through. All these suggestions are starting to make my head buzz! I am so impressed with all the help. Wish I were a young whippersnapper instead of a retiree!

This van is OBD1, which requires some adapters which only work on Ford

For most mechanics, those adapters are probably gathering dust in the bottom drawer . . .

Not sure how it works on Ford, but on my OBD I Corolla it just blinks them out like morse code after setting a jumper in the engine compartment, using the check engine light on the dash as the indicator. No special equipment required. I thought Ford provided a similar method, possibly using an led bulb in the engine compartment as the indicator. Tester posted a link above how it is done, which I presume any experienced mechanic can do. Not the case?

Edit: The link referenced above seems to have a problem, but I found this link which seems pretty easy for a mechanic to do w/o needing any special equipment.

Yes, you can do it that way

But I think this 1993 E-150 van has a more sophisticated pcm than the one on your 1992 Corolla, and I think the appropriate scan tool will also show live data

And we all know proper diagnosis involves much more than just retrieving fault codes

Thank you for your input. I plan to put them all together and get my tired old brain to understand it all. If only my husband were able to help me, but he is disabled now.