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Check Engine Light and Popping Sound

My check engine light came on yesterday morning as I was driving to work. So, I tried to pay a little extra attention to the rest of my drive to see if there was anything I could notice that might be wrong with the car. I did notice a small popping sound (that can be drowned out by the radio or the jingling of my car keys) that happens about half the time that I start moving after coming to a complete stop. It sounds like the sound is coming from in front of the driver. And, it has the sound as if you were to take a empty milk gallon and press the sides in a little and then let it pop back out. It only pops a couple of times once I start moving and doesn’t recur. My car is a standard transmission '96 Toyota Tercel. I’d appreciate any advice or suggestions!! Thanks!

That CEL (check engine light) is just a kid in class waving her hand trying to get you attention because she has the answer. You need to have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code (like P0123) not just their translation into English and post it back here.

Regarding warning lights:

  1. if the coolant temp light comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

  2. if the oil warning light comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

  3. if a FLASHING MIL/CEL comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

    ASAP means driving to the berm of the highway right now and not waiting for the next exit.

But if the MIL/CEL is not flashing, then it’s not an urgent indicator.

Thank you. I will get the code and post it.

The code is P0133. The mechanic said that it would cost about $320 to fix. Between replacing the sensor and getting a tune-up, it looks like it’s amounting to almost $800. This has added up very quickly and is rivaling the value of my car. Does this seem I’m being charged correctly?

I don’t have a reference handy but someone should come along soon with the meaning of the code.

Don’t combine maintenance with a repair. Yea, you end up paying for both, but the maintenance needs to be done even if you are not experiencing any problems. Frankly the lack of maintenance is often the reason something fails and triggers a light. Doing maintenance on schedule is a very good way of saving money in the long run. Waiting for something to happen first is the expensive way of owning a car.

P0133 is an O2 sensor code. It might be the O2 sensor (a good mechanic will do further testing rather than blindly change parts) or it might be an exhaust leak which could also make the popping sounds.