My first post. A story about a CEL - I can’t seem to tell it in just a few words.
My 1997 Mercury Villager minivan (163K miles) has some problem that has triggered the CEL twice - but not recently. I don’t know what is wrong with it or how to go about finding that out.
About 3 weeks ago I started it and noticed right away the idle was very rough. I drove it about 2 miles, shut it off and then an hour later turned it on and drove it 2 miles home - it was idling rough the whole time.
The next day when I started it the CEL came on and stayed on. I called a mechanic who I had never been to before but who was willing to look at my car that day. He hooked up the diagnostic tool and told me the problem was a misfire in cylinder 1. Based on when I had last done a tune-up (15k miles ago with spark plugs, wires, fuel filter) his guess was a bad fuel injector. I made an appointment to bring it in the next day so he could check it out.
When I started the car the next day the CEL was still on. I dropped the car at the shop and came back 2 hours later and the mechanic said that my car was running fine, the CEL did not come on when he started it and there was nothing he could see or hear wrong with it - he thought it might have just been something in the fuel (a piece of carbon?)
That was on a Tuesday. To complicate matters my car registration was due the coming Friday and required passing an air quality check. So after he said my car was fine I drove to the testing station and my car passed with no problem. During the next week I drove my car around town and on a short trip on the highway (100 miles RT) with no problems and no CEL.
Then on day 8 I was on my way to an appointment and just after I got on the freeway the CEL started flashing. I had no idea at the time what that meant but it was upsetting. I was on the freeway for less than 10 minutes and was so upset about the flashing I don’t remember if it was just a solid CEL when I got off or if it was still flashing. I drove for another 5 minutes, parked the car and went to the appointment. While I was waiting I looked on the internet to see what a flashing CEL means and it was pretty scary since most say it can be dangerous and do lots of damage. I called the mechanic and he said to bring it by.
After my appointment when I went and started up my car the CEL was off. I drove to the mechanic and he could not get his diagnostic tool to work for some reason but the CEL was still off. A different mechanic drove the car and again could not hear or see anything. One of the mechanics thinks it’s a fuel injector and the other was not sure. That was on June 22 - almost 2 weeks ago. I have driven the car around town during the past 2 weeks (but not on the freeway) and the CEL has not come on again since the day it was flashing and the car seems to run fine.
I have read way more about CELs than I ever wanted to know! The other day I bought some fuel additive but have not put it in because the directions say to add it to a near empty tank and I still have about 6-7 gals in my 20 gal tank.
Today I went to O’Reilly’s and had them check for “codes” - even though the CEL is not on I understand they can be stored. Here’s what showed up:
Knock Sensor 1 Circuit (Bank1)
Cylinder 1 misfire detected
(If there was a number with this one I must have missed it)
Not sure what to do next. A new fuel injector is $245 and I don’t know if that will fix the problem. Is the car safe to drive? Is it worth spending any money on? Do fuel additives help anything? Did the time I was on the freeway with the CEL flashing damage my engine? Is there any way to tell? Do the codes tell a mechanic what’s wrong with it?
I don’t know a lot about cars except that this minivan has run GREAT for 60K miles. I bought it used 7 years ago and have had no engine problems and very few repairs. A couple motor mounts, a vacuum hose and the usual maintenance; - the car has never overheated, the A/C works great, and it has been very reliable.
I am planning on buying a newer car soon but in the meantime I’m trying to decide if it is worth trying to get this one repaired especially if I don’t know what’s wrong with it.
Any suggestions, insights or advice much appreciated.