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.