Bad gasoline

I have been told by two different dealerships that the warning lights on my 2005 Lexus’ dashboard are due to bad gasoline. The lights (Check Engine, VSC TRAC, and VSC OFF) went on the day after I had an accident where I hit a deer with the front right corner of the car. I had filled the tank several days before that. After the repair work was done to the car the warning lights were still on, so I took it to the Lexus dealership. They said it was bad gas, put in some kind of fuel cleaning additive, turned off the warning lights and filled the tank with gas. The lights went right back on the next day. I called the dealership and they said it would take some time to cycle through the bad gas. I also called the owners of the gas station where I got the tank of gas before the accident and told them about the bad gas. I have not gone back to that station since before the accident. Since I live 4 hours from the nearest dealership I asked if there was something I could do to turn the lights off once I cycled through the bad gas. The mechanic at the dealer told me how to pull the EFI fuse. So after a few tanks of gas I pulled the fuse. But the lights came right back on. I then arranged to take the car to a closer Toyota dealer and have them check it. They also said the car had bad gasoline. Since then I have run the tank very low and put in new tanks of gas at least five times - all from different gas stations - and pulled the EFI fuse twice more. Still the lights won’t go off. Could it be possible that the accident has caused these lights to go on? I have now driven the car probably 1500 miles since the first dealership told me there was bad gasoline, and I have turned the ignition on and off at least 80 times. I have also driven the tank down to about 2.5 gallons of gas once, and then 0.5 gallons more recently.

First there is no rule that you have to have your car serviced by the dealer. Dealers don’t have any magic tools. Lexus are just cars … Nice ones however.

I suspect it is more likely related to the accident than gas. I suggest getting the codes read by your local auto part’s store. Many will do it for free. Get the list of error codes and post them back here. They will be in the form “P1234”

BTW could you tell us a little more about the accident.

It is highly unlikely that the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) has ANYTHING to do with your gasoline. VSC is a ABS derivative and your dash light problem is likely being caused by a wheel speed sensor that was damaged in the wreck…

The fact that stealerships blame the problem on “bad gas” shows you just how clueless they are…

As cigroller says "“we really don’t want to be bothered with this.”

As you’ve probably guessed, the problem is not “bad gas.” I suggest you get a second opinion as to the cause of the problem from a mechanic not associated with the Lexus dealer. There must be a good independent mechanic closer than four hours.

“Bad gas” is code for either “we have no idea what is going on” and/or “we really don’t want to be bothered with this.”

Have someone else look at the car, and, as noted above by J.E.M., there is no need to take it to a dealer. Just find a good local, independent shop.

You could get the computer scan done and post the codes first if you like.

(And notice how my post is broken up in small pieces - like paragraphs - so that it is easier to read than one big block of text.)

Was the deer damage repaired professionally by a body shop? If so, I would get back in there a.s.a.p. and explain what is going on and take it from there.

Yes it was repaired professionally, by Manke Auto Body in Denver, who was recommended by both the dealership and State Farm. And I did bring it back to them that same afternoon right after the lights came back on. They looked at it and said I should go to the Lexus Dealer. I also made several phone calls to them in the weeks after I got the car back.

It was night time and snowing a bit and a small group of deer stepped out into the road from my left. An oncoming car slowed and narrowly missed them and I braked but I was only about 30 feet from the deer.

The quintessential “doe in the headlights” got about 3/4 through my lane and stopped and stared at me. I could not swerve left because of oncoming traffic and did not want to go to the right because the deer were moving right. The deer mostly hit the right headlamp area, but some of the right side of the grill, and the two right side wheels went over the deer.

The car seemed to be running fine afterwards, except that the right headlamp was bent leftwards and the right quarter panel had moved back slightly so the right passenger door couldn’t really open freely.

I will try to find an auto parts store to read the codes ASAP. Thank you.

The relationship between sophisticated electronic controls and mechanical automotive systems has not been a completely happy one…The people who repair cars are being overwhelmed by these complex, expensive systems which they have little or no experience with.

“We ran some diagnostics and the computer said to replace the …” Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t…

It is true that VSC has nothing to do with the alleged “bad gasoline”.
However, on many makes of cars, when the CEL illuminates, the VSC system and Traction Control systems shut down because of the interaction of the ECM with those systems.

Once the ECM detects a problem, it likely triggered the other warning lights.

And, as has already been stated, this is almost surely not a case of “bad gasoline”.
Just as patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, a diagnosis of “bad gasoline” is the fall-back diagnosis of mechanics who have no clue.

Get those OBD2 trouble codes read!

Anyone who tells you that the gasoline is the cause of a problem should have at least a one quart sample to back up this claim and I agree that this problem could be more related to the accident than any claim of bad gas.

Let me ask these questions. When the car was at the dealership (any of them) did you drop the car off and pick it up later?

Were you ever charged for any diagnostics and procedures or was this a simple here you go/try this thing?

I’ll bet you something was busted/knocked loose under the hood from the accident. The exhaust manifold is right in front on these cars and there isn’t a huge amount of clearance in there.

At the Lexus dealership I waited while they looked at it, but they charged me for the labor, to add BG44K (whatever that is) and to fill up the tank with premium gas. At the Toyota dealership I dropped off the car for them to look at and they did not charge me. They said they took a sample of the gas and that it contained “a lot” of alcohol.

I tend to think that is the case. I noticed before I took the car in for the body repairs, that when I accelerated strongly the engine made a “throaty” noise (for lack of a better descriptor). A little like the sound of a big tailpipe, or a tailpipe with a hole in it.

I am wondering if they missed something in the repair work and there is a hole, crack or busted seal somewhere. There was a lot of damage, about $10k worth, even though it was a little deer.

The codes are PO171 SYSTEM TOO LEAN (BANK 1), and PO174 SYSTEM TOO LEAN (BANK 2).

One thing I did not mention before is that I noticed after the accident, before I took it to be repaired that the engine makes a “throaty” noise (for a lack of a better descriptor) when I accelerate, which it did not make before. It still makes this noise.

Could it be that something is cracked or busted and there is too much air going into the engine? Would that lead to the VSC TRAC and VSC OFF lights coming on?

the codes did come up as SYSTEM TOO LEAN, PO171 and PO174. I asked the mechanic if the throaty noise that I’m hearing could be related to the warning lights and these error codes. He said that the engine could be getting too much air, maybe something was overlooked in the repair work. Is this possible? If so I would like them to get in there and look for it.

You need the EXHAUST SYSTEM carefully examined. The throaty sound seems like an EXHAUST LEAK. If the exhaust leak is before the OXYGEN SENSOR, fresh air can be drawn into the exhaust and pass over the oxygen sensor. This would get read as “LEAN” by the oxygen sensor, and set the “LEAN” trouble codes.

During the body repair work, they may have disconnected the exhaust, at the exhaust manifold, in order to work on the body. When the exhaust pipe, or manifold, was reconnected, it may not have sealed properly, and now be leaking exhaust, and drawing in fresh air.

Call your insurance company and tell them of your car problems “post deer”. Insurance can cover problems “discovered after (or while) repairs are made”.

Basically when a CEL illuminates many systems disable themselves. The VSC (stability control) and VSC TRAC actually does control the engine a bit(eases power) and if engine not properly running according to computer simply shuts VDC and traction control(TRAC) it self down.