Free way to "check" Check Engine Light

Well, now that I finally need it, the local auto parts store – Auto Zone – no longer does freebie “check engine light.”

Any suggestions?? I am in a rural area, so not much immediate choice, but do travel to “the big cities” occassionally.

If the car is old enough you can check engine codes without special tools. What have you got?

It be an '03 Camry. It goes on for about a day, then goes off for three days and then back on. Gas cap is tight.

I assume it’s the %(^*# — Oxygen sensor, but without the code…

On a fifth generation Camry I’m afraid I don’t have any free tricks for you. I was actually expecting a much older car haha. However, all is not lost. I hear that NAPA as well as some other parts chains still do free testing.

The light could be because of the O2 sensor if the mileage is high enough, but it could also be a warning related to your ABS or other systems. In any case-you should find out.

You can get a cheap OBDII code reader for about $50. It is usually money well spent. Of course, if you want detailed info from your car you need one that is more like $400. The $50 one is all that AutoZone was using anyway.

If there is an Advance AP around try them. I have heard that some have stopped doing it b/c of various “mishaps” - but there are still 2 Advance stores near me that do it.

My 01 Dodge displays the codes on the dash if you turn the key to ON and back off 3 times in a row. Wonder if a Camry would have something like that? Oh wait…Toyotas never have any problems right, so why would it need that feature?

mishaps ,from an 8.00 an hour guy,thats hard to belive,I love autozone,and the results? they have a GREAT training program ,from what I hear.and move a GREAT DEAL of PARTS in the process, but man they do a GREAT JOB! and really know they’re stuff.


Do you have anything productive to add, or are you just another troll?

A simple code reader can be purchased cheap enough. A fairly good investment if you plan on trying to keep a car for any length of time. If you plan on working on them, I suggest a more expensive scanner that will let you track the actual sensor readings. Since the ODB-II system is a standard for all makes and models, the one scanner should be good for your current and near-future cars. At least until ODB-III gets pushed.

I said i love autozone,what more do you want? what is a troll? you guys say what you want and I do the same so whats the trouble? to each his own! and S/A it was just as productive as jad2007, and yes toyotas are far superior than who ever you are worry about the topic at will get no more responses from knuckles.


maico, are you thin skinned or something? my comment was for Jad2007, who seems to like to run down other posters while rarely saying anything helpful. I guess I got a little frustrated with some of his comments in other posts. Chill out, dude.


You may be able to do a thing, or two, without a scanner. If you pay close attention to how the engine, transmission, and the rest of the car are performing, you may note some area which isn’t as it should be. Note any symptoms, and if you need help, post the problem/symptoms here.

Holy overreaction Batman! Have you ever heard of tongue-in-cheek? Don’t take stuff so seriously. And for what it’s worth, I’ve been posting on this board and the old one since 2001.

I’ve seen some good posts from you in the past, but wow…I like to run down other posters? I’d really like to see some examples.

If the Toyota doesn’t have the feature of displaying codes by turning the key on/off 3 times, then just say so.

for between 59 and 89 you can have YOUR OWN, and skip the autozone thing.

i got a 300 buck one several years ago, on sale for 99, so i got lucky.

see if the local auto parts stores are having sales. you may get lucky.

I may be the hyper-sensitive one today. I’ve had a couple of jerks rattle my nerves on this and another site recently (remember mmsamma, anyone?), and I over did it. Jad2007, I read your response to the $200 tire post about asking for studies or reports about using different brand tires on the same axle, and took your stance the wrong way. Then read this response, and jumped. I’ve worked on Toyota’s for almost 20 years, and the ECM cars never had a non-tool method of getting codes. The pre-ODB-II cars could use a jump wire on the diagnostic connector under the hood. The ODB-II cars all need an ODB-II scan tool.


eBay also generally has a lot of good deals but you have to know exactly what you want, and what things usually sell for to make sure you do get a good deal. I got my scanner off eBay and am very happy with it and the cost.

Well I know I’ve gotten a bit heated or gone too far in the past, but everyone makes mistakes, and I’m an emotional person. :slight_smile: I don’t mean to insult anyone or be mean. I just like to throw in some dry humor here and there (or try to, anyway).

I know it’s hard to read a persons tone on a message board, and my post in the $200 tire thread is just my opinion. If Dave G has any data to support his position, I’d appreciate to know about it and will change my stance on the issue.

If I’m reading your post correctly, however, you are saying all ODB-II cars need a scan tool to read codes? My 01 Dodge Caravan has ODB-II of course, and I’m being honest about the on/off 3 times trick to read the codes. I used it last week to pull the codes when the check engine came on (P0442, “small evap leak”, of course!).

Anyway, glad we got this sorted out.

I was talking Toyota’s specifically. I’ve heard that some Chrysler products can still use that key trick, but Toyota never did.

Let’s not forget Walmart as a source.