Expensive lesson in vehicle maintenance – check the gas cap

Last night the check engine light on my 2001 Acura Integra came on. I googled a couple of things here and there and I found some people suggested using a paperclip to read the code.

My car is relatively old so I didn’t want to bother with a DIY project.

I dropped it off at the shop this morning without thinking much about it. I figure reading the code off the car would probably cost about an oil change — $30-$40, and whatever is wrong with it, they will recommend a service to me and I can decide then how much I want spend. I was so out of it, I didn’t even realize they quoted me a very hefty price tag.

The results came back — It was because the damn gas cap was not tighten, so the sensor threw a fit. My post-mortem research showed that this is actually a very common reason the light came on.

Now here is the kicker, the bill is $90!


I shouldn’t have been so nonchalant about it. I go through a lot of work to save a couple of bucks here and there, but I totally failed to do my research here. Had I googled just a bit harder, I would have probably fixed the problem.

The worst part is, this exact thing actually happened to my Prius less than 2 months ago. But the Prius has free maintenance so I didn’t feel the pain of being dumb.

Now I know.