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Check Engine Light

About 6 months ago I had my '01 Sebring Coupe in the garage for a gurgling sound I was hearing from the rear of my car. They did find a small leak in the cooling system which they fixed. A few weeks after that, my check engine light came on. I took it to the mechanic and they tested it, no codes came up for a problem. They reset the light, they said if it comes back on and flashes, make sure to pull over immediately. Because there was no code they didn’t feel I had any major problem. The check engine light came back on again but I haven’t done anything because the car has been running fine. Now I’ve heard the gurgling sound again (almost sounds like an old coffee percolator, I hear it when I start the car, usually after I’ve driven it a fair distance - not on short trips). One of the mechanics said it could be the fuel pump when I had it in the first time but when they found the cooling system leak they fixed that to see if that solved the problem. Any thoughts on a connection with this noise and the check engine light and what the problem could be?

I think maybe you might want a different mechanic. If the light was on, then there are codes stored. If you had a gurgling sound from the rear of the car it is also very unlikely that it had anything to do with the cooling system - This is not to say that you might not have had a cooling system leak, but all of you cooling system is in front of the car. Is this mechanic at a corporate chain kind of auto shop by chance?

Anyway, if the light is back on then there are codes to be read. Many corporate chain auto parts stores will read then for free (e.g. Autozone). Go to one, ask them read the codes, write them down (the exact codes, like P0123 - not what anyone says about them), and then post them here.

BTW: the mechanic was right to say not to drive if the light starts flashing.

There are two reasons not to drive around with a CEL.

  1. A CEL means there is a problem, even if it only means the CEL itself has a problem.

  2. If, as in your case, you ignore a CEL, assuming it is nothing important because it was not important last time, you could end up with some very expensive repairs or maybe get stuck somewhere. You have no way of knowing what is going on until you check, but if the light is on, something is wrong!

He tried it twice and no codes either time. It was done at a small local dealership garage. And to clarify, I posted that the gurgling sound was coming from the rear - but - I should have said, it ‘appears’ to be coming from the rear. I never know when the sound will happen or I’d have someone else start it while I stick my head under the car to try to find out approximately where it does come from. It usually doesn’t make the sound unless I’ve driven 25 miles or more and it doesn’t happen every time. When the mechanic fixed the coolant leak I believe he said it could have been air in the system that possibly caused the noise since I wasn’t positive where the noise was coming from. That’s why they didn’t do anything else about the noise, he said see if that solves the problem. And it did go away for quite a while. I am due to go in for some other work so I’ll have them check the light again to see if they get any codes.

From your description I’m guessing you have an evap system problem. The evaporative emissions system has various bits of piping and hoses that capture fuel vapor and put it into the engine to be burned. A problem with that system can make the check engine light come on, and since it involves the fuel tank it could also cause some burbling noises in the fuel or the evap system hoses. Maybe vacuum developing in the fuel tank after some amount of driving triggers the condition, or something like that.

Anyway, I agree, there have to be codes stored if the light comes on. Find a different shop/mechanic.

I went to Autozone today, here are the codes: P0171, P0134 and P0139. He suggested I change to a higher octane gas, add some fuel injector cleaner and have the o2 sensor replaced. Any other suggestions?

I went to Autozone today, here are the codes: P0171, P0134 and P0139. He suggested I change to a higher octane gas, add some fuel injector cleaner and have the o2 sensor replaced. Any other suggestions?

The first suggestion is not to follow the Autozone employees advice.

Here is what the codes mean (though I don’t know if it helps you):
P0134 02 Sensor Circuit No Activity Detected (Bank I Sensor 1)
P0139 02 Sensor Circuit Slow Response (Bank 1 Sensor 2)
P0171 System too Lean (Bank 1)

It is possible that you do have a bad O2 sensor. However, lots of these get replaced only to find that it doesn’t solve the problem. You need a good, reputable, local & independent mechanic to check over the codes & the sensor - but especially the wiring to the sensor. They also need to check for exhaust systems leaks. Taking the “no activity” and “slow response” codes together the first guess I’d be going on is that there is a problem with the wiring or wiring harness rather than the sensor. The “lean condition” code is almost certainly a symptom of that.

Whatever you do, if someone wants to replace you O2 sensor ask them to explain exactly how they arrived at that solution. If they can’t show you intact wires with a proper voltage at the wiring for the O2 sensor don’t let them do it.

In addition to cigroller’s excellent advice, I want to add that when anyone suggests using higher octane gas, that suggestion is only relevant if you have been using gas of too low an octane. When people have no clue about how a car engine functions, it is common for them to believe–in error–that high octane gas is the answer to one’s car problems.

It will take a lot to set this situation right. What I mean is you need a new mechanic,a parts store that sells parts not one that does diagnostic work and you need to somehow convince people not to B.S. you, that’s going to be the tough one as you must have a trusting look to you.

In the mechanics defense, I myself probably would have given up on a customer who could not tell me from which end of the car the coffee pot was making noise. They just got tired of trying to figure out your story and did whatever they could to send you down the road,sometimes its like that.Mechanics are only human and not clairvoient.