So my check engine light went on a few weeks ago. Does that mean I am going to die? No of course not, but it leads to a world of vagueness, ambiguity, uncertainty and concern. So what’s the error? Well, go to a body shop or your dealer and they can tell you. WTF? Are you kidding me? Imagine a laptop was that way? Sure of course they aren’t the same animal and a car is much more complex, but why do error codes have to be hidden from drivers? That makes us less informed and more scared when we are in the unknown.
1. Why can’t an error come up with details of the error and the circumstances if the error isn’t fixed? For example: Error code 1A5 – This relates to coolant cap. It appears the coolant cap is not functioning correctly or is not correctly placed. Please inspect as soon as possible. Leaving the coolant cap unsecured can lead to coolant leaking out and causing damage to other components within the engine.
2. More of a dream, but still – why doesn’t the car use google maps or any mapping application to tell you where the closest body shops are (and/or dealers)
3. The dream continues, beyond telling you the closest one, you can actually book an appointment with that body shop. In essence an OpenTable for body shops.
3a. A twist to this option is that the car notifies no more than 5 shops in the area (based on your criteria, filters) and each body shop has the right to send their initial quote for the investigation of this error code you received. In fact, the body shop receives all car data with the error so they are well informed to give you the most appropriate quote (prior to investigation). Then once you see the quote that you prefer (or simply the distance, whatever you prefer), you can then book that appointment right through your car.
In reality, this can all happen very easily. You use an OBD connector that hooks to your smartphone. Then, steps 1-3a can be driven by your smartphone app.
- OBD connector
- Smartphone app
- Coordination and communication system setup with body shops (which actually could be easy via email initially – if body shops all have email readily available)
Some followup questions to you the public out there:
- How often does your check engine light come on?
- What do you do when it comes on?
- Do you call any body shop, do you call a dealer?
- Do you check it out quickly or do you wait?
- Are you aware of the error causing the check engine light to go off prior to see a mechanic?
- When checked out, do they give you a clear explanation of the error/issue?