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Engine light

Dear Guys,

My husband and I listen to you all the time and love your show. I have a mellow yellow 01 VW New Beetle whom I have loved dearly for 8 years.She now has 83Kmiles but runs great. I’ve been very satisfied with my “happy car” as my husband likes to call her, but lately she’s been pitching me fits. The check engine light keeps coming on. I’ve taken it to my local reputable car repair shop and they first ran it on the diagnostic, didn’t find anything, cleared the code and it was fine…for about 4 weeks. It came on again, I took it in again and they replaced the 02 sensor to the tune of $250. Guess what? In two weeks it came on again. THIS time they replaced the dip stick “tube”, didn’t charge me for labor and sent me on my way. Well, needless to say, two weeks later it was on again. They just laughed, put it on the diagnostic again, drove it for about 30 minutes, cleared the code and basically told me to “have a nice day” and not worry about it since the car was running great. They did say they could start replacing very expensive parts that showed up as “possibles” but since it was running well that they were trying to save me money. (The owner is a regent at the college my husband teaches at). So…my question to you is, do I keep driving her without concern until she konks out and not worry about the light until I notice something? I will probably have them check it at each oil change. What I’d really like to do is have them disconnect the dumb light so it doesn’t cause me so much angst. I considered just trading her in, but with our economy tanking, its’ really nice to not have a car payment and to save that money every month. Any suggestions or advice you could give would be appreciated!

Thanks so much!

Leslie Palmer

Blair, NE

Many parts stores will read the codes free of charge. Have them read and post them here. If they “cleared the codes” then ther WERE codes. You need to find out what they were.

Don’t disable the light. It’s there to keep a minor problem from continuing until it develops into a major problem. It does this by letting you know you have the problem while it’s still minor.

The codes justt tell the tech what signal(s) is/are erroneous. Any competant diagnostician then performes more specific tests to narrow it down to its root cause. Throwing parts at it is not proper diagnosis.

Try to find an independent V.W. shop. Also, as already mentioned, don’t disconnect the light. If the C.E.L. ever starts blinking, stop immediately and have the car towed. A blinking light indicates engine damage could be occurring.

I am troubled by your trusted shop’s attitude towards your continus problem with the systems being monitored (or the monitoring system itself) by your cars OBD2 system. Let the shop know that they have not put your mind at ease and this problem must be fixed.

I troubles me to tell you that you may want to sell this car during one of its good periods because it will be shifting the problem to another. What we need is good diagnosis and a firm estimate of the cost to repair,then a good decision can be made.

thanks for your advice…I do appreciate it. I will take my car to our local parts store and go from there.


You are right…I think I will be taking it to my dealer even though I know it will cost more. Thanks!