What Are Some Retailers That Offer Free Checks for Engine Codes?


Quick Answer

Major auto part retail stores such as AutoZone, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Pep Boys Auto Parts, Advance Auto Parts and Napa Auto Parts typically offer free Check Engine light code retrieval service and diagnostics. These stores hope to sell do-it-yourself mechanics the parts they need once the issue is determined. Local automotive repair shops and car dealerships may also be able to check engine codes and help car owners resolve more complex issues.

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Full Answer

Some common situations causing the Check Engine light to appear include when a faulty oxygen sensor needs to be replaced; a gas cap is loose, damaged or missing; a catalytic converter is performing below specifications; a mass airflow sensor is faulty; or the spark plugs and wires are worn or damaged. Some other issues that may trip an engine code are if the fuel system is running too lean or too rich, piston cylinders are misfiring, the knock sensor is malfunctioning or exhaust gas recirculation flow is insufficient. The cost to repair these problems can range from a few dollars, for a new gas cap, to thousands of dollars if the catalytic converter system needs to be replaced.

Since 1996 U.S. auto manufacturers have equipped cars with on-board diagnostic systems. When a vehicle's power train or emission readings perform outside of specified ranges, the diagnostic system issues an on-board diagnostics code. This Parameter ID code may be retrieved by an OBD-II scanner in order to determine the issue.

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