My wife just called who is out of town. The engine light just came on our 1999 Toyota Camry. The car is driving fine, the car temp is very normal. Is it critical to get it checked our right away? Or can we wait until she gets home? Is it OK to drive around? She is 70 miles from home visiting for a day and a half and will come home tomorrow. Any thoughts. Thanks.
Hard to tell with any certainty without reading the code. The check engine light can for instance come on when you haven’t tightened the gas cap - something very benign. It can also come on when there are more serious problems. When the light comes on, it stores codes related to the problem and one can read those codes with a special tool.
Without knowing what the car might be complaining about, I’d be reluctant to have her drive 70 miles with an unknown problem because it could potentially leave her stranded and/or do serious damage to the car.
She can have the codes pulled at autozone or pepboys for free. If possible, report back with those codes here.
As long as it isn’t flashing, odds are she’ll be fine. If you want to pursue further, have her first check the gas cap and make sure it is tight - that’s the leading cause of check engine lights coming on. As a second step, she could take it to any autozone / advancedauto /etc, and have them read the codes (don’t reset the codes, just get them to read them). They should read something like P0### and the #s will help us tell you what might be wrong.
Which engine light, exactly? If it’s the ‘check engine light’, and if she checks the oil just to make sure it’s on ‘full’, then no need to worry right now. It could be something as simple as a loose gas cap. She could drop by an auto parts store and have them read the code, which we can then help you decode.
Thanks for all the input. This was very helpful. Got the codes checked and found out it was an oxygen sensor that is part of the catalytic converter. Folks said it was fine to drive. I appreciate all of your time and informative input.
It is fine to drive, but if you reported the very specific code - in the format “P1234” - people could say more. There are lots and lots of error codes and none of them tell you exactly what is wrong.
But this general “family” of codes doesn’t present any problem for her getting home without worry - at least about that.