‘Service Engine Soon’

Sometime this past summer as the Texas Gal was out and about, a message showed up on the dashboard of our Nissan Versa. “Service Engine Soon,” it said. She noted the message, continued on her way to work and made a couple of phone calls. The second call was to me.

“I called the guy at the dealership, and he said we really don’t need to worry about it,” she told me. “He said he’s been driving for six months with his ‘service engine’ light on. So I’m not going to worry about it. We can have it taken care of when we get the car set up for winter.”

That winterizing took place the other week. Over the years we’ve been in St. Cloud, the guys at one of the national franchise tire and repair places have been reliable and, it seems, very fair in their pricing. So last week, I took the Versa in to have the oil changed, get all the fluids and processes checked and have a tire leak repaired. And I asked the guys to see why the car was sometimes hesitating when I hit the gas and to find out what had made the “service engine” light come on.

After I dropped the car off, I wandered across the street for a burger, knowing that the work would take at least two hours. When I ambled back into the shop, I learned that analyzing the tire problem revealed that we needed four new tires and that the oil and everything else been taken care of. Everything except the “service engine” light. The mechanic working on the Versa showed me some papers with charts and graphs and readings. He told me something about a Bank One O2 sensor being out, which in turn was affecting the gas flow, and that was why the car was hesitating. He said, “You might want to talk to your dealership. The car’s only got 34,000 miles on it, so the part might be under warranty.”

I doubted that the part was under warranty, as the car was more than four years old, but I nodded and asked him what he thought his place would charge to replace the sensor. He gave me a price, and once I was home, I called the dealership where we bought the car, got the service department and explained what I wanted to know.

Well, the guy said, he couldn’t tell me what the price might be. They’d have to do their computer check to see what the problem was. Once they did that, they’d see if the part was under warranty. If the part was under warranty, the computer check was free; if it wasn’t, the computer check would cost us $100. I told him what I’d learned, that the other fellows said it was a Bank One O2 sensor. He told me that guys at “shops like that” often didn’t know what they were talking about, and I was better off coming in to the dealership.

I didn’t care for the attitude, so I thanked him and hung up. And a little later this morning, I’m taking the Versa into the national tire and repair chain for what the guys there told me should be no more than a thirty-minute repair. I’ll bring a book along and likely wander across the highway for a burger while they tend to the sensor. And I imagine that soon after that I’ll be on my way.

There are, I suppose, all sorts of car songs that could fit in here, but I’ve never been all that hepped up about car songs. So to close today, I’ve found a song whose title kind of fits into the scheme of tales automotive, even if the lyrics don’t quite work. Here’s the late Jeff Healey and the Jeff Healey Band with a track from their 1995 album, Cover to Cover. It’s a scorching version of Robert Johnson’s “Stop Breakin’ Down.”

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One Response to “‘Service Engine Soon’”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    I took my car to one of those national tire stores to have a new set of rubber installed the day before departing on back-to-back trips to both coasts. It was an easy, one-mile walk each way, so no problem, right?

    When I went to pick up the car that evening, the manager on duty began to apologize profusely. It seemed that the lift had gotten stuck with my car hoisted high in the air, and they couldn’t get a repair person in until the following morning. While the incident didn’t prove to be a major inconvenience, it did teach me not to put that kind of work off until the very last minute.

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