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Why did my BMW check engine light turn on?

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

You’re about to leave for work and you start your BMW.

The dashboard lights turn on, like normal, but you notice that the check engine light stays on.

If it’s blinking, you should go to an auto repair shop as soon as possible. A blinking check engine light indicates that there’s a problem with the engine and it may lead to damage to the catalytic converter.

Reasons why a BMW check engine light may turn on

If your BMW check engine light comes on and stays on, you should have it checked out soon.

There are many reasons why a check engine light turns on. It can be anything from a loose gas cap to an internal engine problem.

Other reasons include a circuit problem, the catalyst system working below its threshold, and issues with the coolant system.

BMW repair is one of the services that Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire offers.

If you’re going in for regular BMW service, don’t forget to let your service adviser know if your check engine light comes on or if it turns off and comes back on.

Diagnostic testing on an engine light

When a vehicle comes in with a check engine light on, we start with a visual inspection. During the inspection, we make sure nothing is loose and that the oil and fluid levels aren’t low.

After that, the technicians pull a trouble code, which shows them where they should start the diagnostic testing.

Then, they perform a diagnostic test, through which they are able to isolate the problem. More information about engine diagnostics can be found in this article we wrote.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Reasons why a car won’t start

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

You get into your vehicle, and the interior lights come on. You put your key in the ignition, and the dashboard lights up. You turn your key a little further, but it won’t turn on. 

There are many reasons why a car won’t start.

Here are a few of them:

  1. Dead battery: It could be a problem with your battery. You may have enough battery to turn some things on, but you don’t have enough to turn your car on. Battery failure can occur for several reasons.
  2. Starter: If you turn the ignition or press the ignition start button, and you hear it click but nothing happens, it may be a sign that your starter or starter solenoid is bad. Other symptoms are covered in this article.
  3. Fuel system problem: Your vehicle may not turn on if it has a fuel system problem. It could be anything from a clogged fuel filter, a fuel pump not working, or even the fuel tank being empty of gas. Even if the fuel gauge reads that you have fuel, it may be reading incorrectly.
  4. Transmission sensor: Some vehicles may experience a no-start condition, because of the neutral safety switch that’s in the transmission. It could be bad or a gear shifter problem that’s not aligning correctly on what some people refer to as the PRNDL. You may want to make sure it’s in park or neutral before starting the car. 
  5. Anti-theft system: Another reason a vehicle may not start is if the anti-theft system is activated. Even though you use the key for the car, it can actually cause the vehicle to not start. One indication of this is if the security light is flashing while the ignition is on. Also, most keys have some type of chip or transmitter that the car receives, and it’s not uncommon for them to go bad.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Is my transmission bad?

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

In today’s vehicles, it may be difficult to determine if you’re having an engine running problem or a transmission problem.

Since the vehicles have a lot of computer control in them, an engine running problem can mask itself as a transmission problem, and vice versa. 

Transmission.

Transmission problem indicators

One way to tell if you’re having a misfire problem over a transmission shaking problem is to take a look at the check engine light. If the check engine light is flashing, then it is most likely a misfire. If the symbol is steady and you’re still having that issue, then it could be a transmission problem.

Some other symptoms will be delayed engagement when you’re stopped and then you press the gas pedal. This can mean that there’s a clutch problem, a solenoid problem, or even low fluid.

Another direct indication is the drive indicator on the dashboard may start to flash. 

If you have to press the gas pedal much further than normal to get moving, this could be a transmission problem, but you should have an auto repair shop take a look. Catalytic converters can get clogged up and give you the same symptom.

Very dark and burnt smelling fluid are a couple of other indicators you should keep an eye out for.

One of the things you can do to help make this component last is to have a transmission fluid exchange performed about every 30,000 miles. This will not only put new fluid through the whole transmission, it can help get the clutch material and contaminants out of it.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Check engine light on? Car doesn’t start?

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Does your car not start? Does it crank over, but the engine doesn’t run? Is the little light on your dashboard that looks like an engine on? All these indicate that you need engine diagnostics performed.

Check engine light.

Check engine light

It takes quite a few years of training and experience to be able to diagnose today’s high-tech vehicles. 

Special scan tools are needed and access to a large database on information to work on your vehicle are needed. 

Many times automotive technicians need to start with the basics of a battery and alternator electrical system test to a visual inspection to see if something is obviously damaged to using multi-meters and digital oscilloscopes along with manufacturer scan tools to pinpoint the problem of the vehicle. 

These problems can range from broken wiring to components not working to software updates that are needed to make the vehicle operate correctly. 

Where there used to be only one computer in the car, there can be up to 30 or more controllers and electronic modules operating the vehicle. Not only do they have to perform their function in the vehicle, they also have to talk to each other. One not working correctly can cause some strange problems.

About engine diagnostics

You may have questions about diagnostics. We have provided some answers below.

Dashboard Warning Lights.

Dashboard Warning Lights

How much are engine diagnostics?

The cost of engine diagnostics can vary. You should be prepared for at least a one-hour diagnostics charge. Depending on how difficult the problem is more time may be needed.

At Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire, when we do get into diagnostics there have been time we have found the problem in 30 minutes, and we charge accordingly.

Do you do free check engine light diagnostics?

No. We do charge for what we do, because the equipment and talent required to do it isn’t free. A lot of places that do free check engine light diagnostics will do it if you have the work performed at their shop and they will bury the cost into the job. 

How can the parts store do check engine light diagnostics for free?

They’re not performing engine light diagnostics, they’re hooking up a generic scan tool and retrieving the codes and many times just make recommendations on what parts to buy that may or may not fix the vehicle. That is not engine performance diagnostics.

My car won’t start. What now?

We would start with a basic electrical check of the battery, alternator and starter. If all checks there, we would go to the computer and retrieve the codes and then find out what sensor or control system is not working correctly.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics. 

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Evaporative charcoal canister problems on Nissan Pathfinders

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Recently, a customer called and made an appointment for check engine light diagnostics when the check engine light of their Nissan Pathfinder turned on.

They also expressed concerns about how gas pumps would click off while they were pumping gas.

After we hooked up the computer to the car, a few codes appeared — one of them was related to the canister vent solenoid.

The evaporative system on today’s cars collect the gas fumes and then the computer will control the release of the fumes into the engine. They will be burned while driving, preventing them from going into the air and harming the environment. There are electronic systems on here that can fail over time.

Replacing the canister vent solenoid and evaporative charcoal canister

The canister vent solenoid failing is a common issue found in Nissans. When it isn’t working properly, it won’t open as it should. So, when you get gas, it doesn’t allow the air to escape while you’re filling up. This will extend the time you spend at the gas station.

To do the testing, you have to remove the fender well on the left rear of the vehicle to verify that the solenoids aren’t working. Since this is a place that gets a lot of water, other metal components, including brackets and wiring, rust. We have found that it’s better to replace the evaporative charcoal canister with the solenoids.

After clearing the codes, we go for a test drive, reset the monitors to make sure the vehicle is fixed, and everyone is happy.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.