2/21/2006

Service Engine Soon

The "Service Engine Soon" light on your car's dashboard is the Where's Waldo of automobile maintenance: 1% amusing, 99% psychological torture.

Make no mistake. The "Service..." light is psychological torture. Mine has been glowing for a few weeks now and the inside of my car feels like Abu Ghraib Detention Center. One wonders what maniacal misanthrope invented the Service Engine Soon light. Consider what the light is really saying to you:

Hello, driver. Guess what. There's something wrong. There's something really wrong. But I'm not going to tell you what it is. It might be something trivial, something you could repair cheaply, but should you ignore it, develop into a costly repair. Then again, it could be something deathly serious already. Perhaps I'll leave you stranded in a bad neighborhood after dark. Or I'll wait until that job interview next Thursday. You'll have to wait and see.


Remember that movie in which the villain crank-calls the baby sitter and asks "Have you checked the children? " That's the same effect the Service light has. The only difference is, instead of a murderous rampage, you shiver at the thought of having to suck dick to raise $2000 in transmission-repair money. I don't know what's worse: a knife-wielding psychopath cranked up on meth, or your local profiteering auto mechanic -- either one promises abject horror.

Why can't the Service light just tell you what the hell is wrong? Cars have been telling us useless crap for years now. Who gives a damn about RPMs or what the cabin temperature is? I don't care whether the "car in the mirror is closer than he appears." Screw him. I'm changing lanes anyway. That closer driver needs to realize that I'm later for work than I appear.

This is the Computer Age. I figured that by the year 2006, a little robot with a jetpack would fly out of my car's engine compartment and give me a mechanical status report in my choice of over 200 languages. The Japs really let us down with that one! As it is, my car's computer can tell me my "instantaneous fuel efficiency," but it can't tell me that a piston is fixing to pop out of the muffler? What the fuckin' fuck? I suppose I shouldn't be surprised when I consider all the useless error messages Windows has been flashing at me for 10 years.

The Service Engine Soon light leaves you to anguish and reckon. Maybe this is why we name our cars after females. They both let you know something's wrong, but they won't tell you what it is.

45 comments:

manifest destany sucks said...

Bugg, this is the reason I check back in from time to time.
"Hello, driver. Guess what. There's something wrong. There's something really wrong. But I'm not going to tell you what it is." This should be followed by some of that "Dr. Evil" laughter. Keep it up.

tornwordo said...

We just rented a new car for the drive to Ottawa. We howled as the electronic dashboard display showed "Ice possible".

Really? You don't say!

Moogie said...

Ugh...it must be in the air. I've got one going on my dashboard as well.

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

So you mean all those pretty lights on the dashboard actually mean something???

Oh.....

;)

Forty_Two said...

I've always been partial to the ship's computer.

Warning! Engine detonation is imminent! You now have two minutes to reach minimum safe distance.

Smartypants said...

I hate those dummy switches where stuff should be if you weren't so cheap and had gone with the upgrade.

Bob2837465 said...

OMG! It seriously is torture! You are so right! I'm waiting the moment that mine is going to blink on - I was in a small fender bender approximately 6,500 miles ago and I'm afraid to open the hood because it might not close again. I do NOT want to have to drive around with a bungee cord securing my hood, yet I don't have the money to get it fixed right now. However, this means no maintenance, no oil changes, no refills on windshield wiper fluid... I'm tempting fate, aren't I?

Elaine said...

OOOOH. Nice jab at the womens LBB. haha! (but sadly, totally on the mark as usual).
I drove my Mustang for about five years with that light on. After several attempts of trying to find out what it was, I finally gave up and made friends with that light. I said hello to it every morning, asked how its day was and it would reassure me each time that it was only lit up for something really trivial. So I took the light's word for it, until my car completely shut down on me during rush hour traffic. I figured the light and I had developed such a close relationship that it couldn't bear to tell me that I was only running on high hopes, gas fumes and sheer momentum.

Blog ho said...

your car has the aids!

Melonie said...

Hey Bug, I have a friend that services automobiles and he says that the service engine soon lights are on a time delay. Mine has been on for 3 years because my mechanic deliberately did not reset the button to prove a point.
Bastards!

Junebugg said...

Yep, mine's all lit up as well. I try to think of it as festive, kinda like Christmas lights.

As for your local profiteering auto mechanic, try going in as a female (I'd love to see you in a wig, skirt, and heels!!). They think women don't know any better. I actually had a guy try to tell me I needed a new wiper motor when all I really needed was blades.

Dave Morris said...

Note to self: it is possible to suck dick to accomplish auto repair goals.

kcterrilynn said...

As a chick, I should be outraged by your last paragraph. But alas, can't get pissed at the truth. :)

Nölff said...

Ah yes, but I know how to figure out a car. I'm ASE certified.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

I've been through this with my mechanic. He says the light comes on periodically just to let you know that the light works. If there is ever anything wrong, he says, the car will just blow up.

Toni said...

Oh man, I hate the check engine light. It stayed lit almost the whole time I had my old piece of shit car. I took it to the mechanic about 10 times, and the first week it'd be ok, but then suddenly WHAM! Stupid light goes on again. I eventually ditched that piece of crap for a brand new car, a Corolla.

I experiences shades of deja vu last week when what I thought was the check engine light went on in my new car. Aghast, I took it to the dealer. Turned out that it was actually a "maintenance requested" light, and when I got my oil changed the other week, Pep Boys forgot to reset something which made the light go on. The Toyota mechanic (who was FEMALE, btw :) )did a little hocus pocus that took 10 seconds and voila! Light turned off.

kari said...

Check your gas cap. Bet that's it. I'm a closet mechanic on the side. And I'm fairly certain it's not the Aids.

curmudgeon said...

Must be time to trade it in.

Bookfraud said...

oh, fuck, that was funny. makin' me glad i don't have a car. or any children to check.

poopie said...

Now now, there you go with that mother issue woman thing again ;) I feel deprived because my car only has the standard check oil and you're screwed lights.

jules said...

Lauging my ass off at the last sentence. You should KNOW what's wrong...both with the car, and the woman...

Bennet said...

I have a friend who owns a mechanic shop, and that same "check engine" light came on...

He hooked up his little computer , typed in my vin number, and bam it was the o2 sensor which 95% of all check engine lights mean, but why not make a specific light to indicate that? Apparently cheap manufactors are too busy saving money on exporting.

Amanda said...

My car should have a special "Buy A New Car NOW" light. Piece of crap.

StringMan said...

They should have something like Hal from 2001 A Space Odyssey on board in cars, with that soothing but creepy voice:

"Hello Bug, How are you today? I'm afraid I'm not so good. I have some bad news to tell you. You're fucked. Junk it, buddy. You are irrepairably fucked."

Kari is right about the gas caps. Happens all the time.

PlatinumGirl said...

That was great. My light was on recently as well, but I got the problem fixed. Stupid emissions system/sensor crap.

"the inside of my car feels like Abu Ghraib Detention Center" -- LOL! That was so funny, I almost forgot I'm supposed to feel bad for laughing at it.

Amandarama said...

I just ignore the pretty lights and keep driving the car. Eventually those lights will burn out. That means the problem has gone away, right?

Latigo Flint said...

Good god, you're a Titan LBB!

The turn at the end--simply magnificent. My nipples may never soften again.

Ms. M said...

I always thought the light would just burn out on it's own, then the problem just disappears...easy peasy! Heheheheheh.

I've actually contemplated sucking cock to get the money for car repairs. But what cock? The mechanics? GAWD NO!

NWJR said...

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised when I consider all the useless error messages Windows has been flashing at me for 10 years.

There's more truth to that than even you might recognize. People who use Windows don't really expect their computers to perform properly. It's helped set our expectations so low that we're actually shocked when things work the way they should. Thanks, Mr. Gates!

The Service Engine Soon light leaves you to anguish and reckon. Maybe this is why we name our cars after females. They both let you know something's wrong, but they won't tell you what it is.

BWAHAHAHA. At least with a "Service Engine" light, you can take your car in to have it diagnosed when there's an issue. That's where the analogy breaks down, ifyouknowwhatimean.

Great post.

nongirlfriend said...

Ohhhh, that last paragraph was WRONG.

Actually, it was pretty damned funny. Thanks, BB, every time I laugh, it hurts. You're the devil! But in a good way...

Oh great One said...

Preach on LBB!

phlegmfatale said...

Check engine light is totally f'd up. I just got a new car and it went off a few weeks after. Turns out I hadn't screwed the gas cap on tightly enough. 'Bout scared the pee out of me, though!

Webmiztris said...

I've always wondered about that too. If it knows something it wrong, why can't it indicate what it is? why can't it at least give a little HINT?

I think mechanics are in cahoots with the auto makers. Because, after all, if the mechanics knew we already knew what the problem was, how could they get away with SCREWING US OVER CONSTANTLY? lol

CaCaBoy said...

Nah. It's just saying pay the dealership a lot of money so they can change the sensor out so it can come on again in 30,000 miles!

Fridaysweb said...

Unfortunately, the mechanic is often as stupified as the car owner. Scary thought, huh?

Sorry to intrude, but I need help. Please, for the love of pete, go reply to Lady K's site. If she receives 400 comments by 5pm, EST, today, she will be able to get that fingernail transplant. The salon assured her that the fungus would not spread, but the whole nail has to go, now. Please, also encourage her not to scratch herself anywhere with that finger.

Miss Sassy said...

Ahhh... the reason at LAST!!!
I wondered... I call my car Missy... a nicname but still better than the last automobile - CAR. Its engine light was a permanent adornment to the point where my mechanic taped the wire to a ground so I would stop coming in. Missy has only given me one reason to have to suck mechanic dick and it just stalled out every time I stopped instead of giving me the mysterious light of warning.
Lemme know about those jetpack dudes, I could use one for my leaking faucets. I want the answer in swahili.

Billy said...

It was all funny but that last damn paragraph was fucking hilarious!

"No, nothings wrong, I'm fine really, no, I'm fine, I mean it, there's nothing wrong"

Blonde Bitch said...

That is so true!!! Well said. That stupid light can turn me into a complete FREAK! I hate wondering what the hell it is and how many organs i will have to sell to pay for it.

Frap Gurl said...

I am female Bug and I straight up tell the doc I am wanting narcotics..and he ignores me! I thought this was how men wanted us ti be straight up and medicated!.. Like a shot of NOS for the libido brotha! ...anyhoo... fuck that light, nothing a piece of duct tape over it can't cure!

Greg - Cowboy in the Jungle said...

Fuck that! You know whats worse?!? Your check engine light is TIMED to come on even if nothing is wrong. Thats right. When you hit a milestone like 50K 60K or 75K it comes on just to get you into the shop for a check up.

If you want to know what the real error is you can go to walmart and plunk down $200 for a code reader and plug it into your engine and it will tell you exactly what is wrong. For what we pay for cars these days that little fucker ought to come with the damn car.

I was raised to fix and maintain my own automobiles. Now it is so hard, I've got to have R2-D2 with me to do it. What a fuckin racket!

PBS said...

Hey! I have a problem with your post. But I'm not going to tell you what it is, ha ha!

(I hate the check-engine light too. But then, who would love it except a mechanic with $ $ in his/her eyes?)

Jill said...

My "Service Engine Soon" Light has been on since I bought the car. That was in 1999......Damn thing is runs perfect. ;)

honkeie2 said...

wow I am soo on the same page here with u! mine came on and i feel the black cloak of car hell looming near.
But it turns out to be nothing but an O2 censor...no biggie

Weary Hag said...

Finally a man who 'gets it' ... Your last paragraph was a gem - and was DEAD ON. Only trouble is, what many men fail to see is that we women are also just like mechanics - hell - I'll tell ANYONE what's wrong if they fork over $2000 first. In fact, I'll even make shit up at that price!! Throw in a two-week paid vacation and I'll even try to FIX it.

This post is great fun, LBB.

Anonymous said...

Mine's been on in my '99 Taurus since I test-drove it 17 months ago and the thing has always run perfectly.

Major problem when next inspection was due, but, 3 months late, I got a shop who'd pass it.

I think they must all suck big-time 'mechanic dick' at the online Taurus Car Club, because everybody's always posting with this problem but the regulars get all holy with you if you post THE TRUTH.

And THEIR posts are all about how many mechanics they took it to and how much cabbage they spent, and it still won't work right, or the SES light still won't go out!

Catsratz