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"Service Engine Soon" light in 2004 Ford Taurus SE

I purchased a 2004 Ford Taurus SE

from a dealer about 9 months ago.

3 months ago, the “service engine soon”

light came on. I consulted the owner’s manual and completed all the checks. After removing and cleaning the battery posts, the “SES” light went off. The light would stay off for a week or two.

Then, come back on. After 5 times, I took the car back to the dealership. They ran a “diagnostics test on the car’s computer”. The dealership’s recommendation and cost to fix my car:

“There may be a problem with the oxygen sensor”. Pressure test = $27.00

Diagnostics = $89.00 Timing cover gasket = $499.00 Parts = $36.00

Intake manifold o-ring valve (leaking oil, sucks in air, engine is detecting air leak) = $74.00 Oxygen sensor = $66.00

Parts = $22 Oil change (“not due, but will need to have done after other repairs are done”) = $26.00 TOTAL = $815.00

I purchased a new battery. The ‘SES’ light continues to come on for a couple weeks, then go off for a couple weeks.

Numerous friends have said “Ford is notorious for problems with the ‘service engine soon’ light”. They owned a Ford vehicle & continued to drive it after the ‘SES’ light came on…and went off.

Should I continue to drive my car ?

I cannot afford to spend $815 to fix my car

that I purchased 9 months ago for $8,000

(including tax, etc.) What damage will result if I continue to drive my car ?

What would you do ?

I find the description and list of services to be quite confusing. Normally its easiest to have some kind of specific diagnosis associated with recommended services. It looks like these folks have “diagnosed” multiple issues.

No matter - don’t go to the dealer. Ask around among people you know for a good, local, independent mechanic and take you car there. These kinds of folks are perfectly competent, not as likely to sell you things you might not need, and will cost a lot less.

Do not ignore the light and drive around with it on. If we just went by “rumor” about car brands all would be known for this. The engine’s computer monitors many of the car’s systems and reports it if it detects a problem. Your has detected a problem, so you should get it fixed.

That SES will have stored codes in the codes - an independent mechanic can read them but so too can many auto parts stores. If you’re feeling ambitious stop by an auto parts store (corporate chains types are your best bet) and ask them to read your diagnostic trouble codes. Write down exactly what the codes are (e.g. P0123, or P0475) and then post them here. People would then be in a position to make better guesses about your potential list of repairs.

How about doing this. Check the owner’s manual and find out exactly what it says about the SEL. Is it really SERVICE engine soon, or is it more of a CEL (CHECK engine soon. If it is SERVICE, then there should be some sort of information somewhere about what kind of service it is talking about, like oil change etc and how to rest the light when that service is done.

That oxygen sensor issue sounds more like a CEL and that means checking the engine’s computer to find out what it is sensing may be a problem. A CEL will give a specific code like [P0123] and from that we can make some suggestions as to what to do next. Many auto part stores will check that for you for FREE while the dealer may have charged you $89.00 for doing the same thing.

Get that code and stop back. If you don’t have an owner’s manual do a Google search and buy one. They really are important.