Check Engine light

Hi all

I have a 98 Cavalier and the Check Engine light has come on and won’t go out. The auto parts store read the code and said it has to do with a vapor emissions or something like that, could be the gas cap etc.

Someone suggested I simply reset the code. I know that to do that I will have to disconnect the battery for a period of time. Does anyone know how long this will take to clear the code? I know if the light does come back on I will have to get it serviced.

Thanks for any answers!


Have you tried tightening the gas cap down (enough so that it clicks)? Or put a new one on? My car’s check engine light will turn on if the cap is too loose.

You could reset the computer by disconnecting the battery for a few minutes, but the problem will still be there and the light will eventually turn back on.

At the auto store when they checked the code they should have been able to reset it with their scanner. Otherwise I belive it takes either 40 or 80 warm ups with out that code being sent again before the light will turn off.

Did you… um… check the engine?

The car’s only 5 years old, but you could always use the hopeless-person’s guaranteed VCR clock fixing method and find some electrical tape.

If it is the gas cap you sometimes have to restart the car a couple of times after tightening it to make the light turn off.

If that doesn’t fix it then go and get it checked out. Advanced Auto Parts (and other places like it) will hook your car up to a machine and tell you want the code means. It was free the time I did it. The problem with my car was the gas cap.

You could also try typing the code into a google, or other search engine, search. It will most often bring up a page or two that will illuminate the cause and the fix for you.


Welcome aboard, sigung86.

I have a similar problem, but I’ve just realized my light keeps coming on when it’s cold (sub 32, here in N. Texas). It stays on until the outside temperature warms up. The dealer has replaced all the 02 sensors, but now that I’ve noticed the correlation to the external temperature, I’m wondering what might cause the condition.

Try the “coolant temperature sensor”, located in the intake manifold near the thermostat.

I used to have a Porsche 924 whose engine light came on every 30,000 miles. It was programmed to do so, even if there was no problem with the engine. I could reset it by pushing a button at the base of the steering column by the firewall.

The “check engine” light came on a couple of times in my '99 Cherokee. Both times there was a problem with the engine (the first time was a disconnected vacuum line and the other was because one of the computer modules failed).

Yeah I would tighten the gas cap. You might have to start it a few times before you notice a change, at least thats what people here wrote before. Also, from the auto parts store, get the manual on your car, it might have some ideas.

My check engine light ('99 Mazda) will reset go off if you disconnect the battery for 30 seconds. But it will keep coming back on unless you fix the problem, or the sensor.

I had an old Nissan Maxima that automatically came on at 60K miles. I did the same type re-set that Johnny L.A. did, and drove on with no problem.

There are always ways to check the codes without a special sensor. In my old Chrysler I would turn the key on-off-on-off-on-off then watch the CHECK ENGINE light and count the flashes, then I had a list of the trouble codes.

With that, here’s a list of the trouble codes you’ll need and how to access them.

Ultimately, it’s a YELLOW light, so you don’t have to go out and fix it right away. Take it to a reputable mechanic when you have the time and the problem will likely be remedied quite quickly.

Now, if it we’re a RED light, you’ve got troubles.

And unlike the US Terror Alert system, I don’t think cars have orange warning lights.

If you check something like a Chilton manual, you will probably find a location for a diagnostic port somewhere under the hood. You can usually use a jumper wire between two pins and clear the code out. The manual should explain the method for your car, and should also tell you how to read your own codes.

It’s likely that the gas cap is the cause, or possibly something with the car’s vapor recovery system.

I had a car once with a diagnostic code pointing to something in the emissions system. I ignored it, and one day, after changing my transmission fluid, the check engine light went out and never came back on.

I don’t believe this is possible on newer vehicles. I want to say that OBD-II vehicles require the code reader (the count-the-flashes technique no longer works). Cars made after some date in the mid-90’s are of this type.

Can somebody verify, correct, or amplify this?

Actually, I followed Rico’s link, which is for GM vehicles, and it states: “All vehicles after 96 are OBDII,and require a scanner to access them.”

A 1998 Cavalier, being a post-'96 GM vehicle, presumably falls into this category.

Progress, I suppose. :dubious:

I had the same problem.
After 3 weeks, the light went off.
End of story.

That was a year ago. Car works just fine, thank you.

Actually, if you have your car inspected on a regular basis, you can simply disconnect the check engine light. It has a plethora of input and only one output … Check Engine!

For the most part, it is rinky-tink, at best, and a cool way for dealers to make money.