Check Engine Light/Service engine soon


Old 10-04-07, 10:21 AM
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Check Engine Light/Service engine soon

2003 Nissan Altima

Is there a difference between Check Engine Light and Service Engine Soon?

My "light" came on and I think it was Service Engine soon. Anyway, I opened the hood and noticed the reservoir was empty. Check the radiator and it was full. I need to fill the reservoir right? I haven't done anything yet.

When I started my car after checking, the light went off.
Was that just a nice light (reminder) to tell me to get my oil changed or what nots?
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Old 10-04-07, 10:37 AM
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Yes it's different. The service light is usually for oil change intervals and they could have some other maintenance things built into it. Once the service is done you reset the light. It is normally indexed off the odometer.

The check engine light is usually activated by fault codes. That could be a number of things the computer is throwing out. It could be as simple as not having the fuel cap tight or it could be more serious. That is something you should have the codes pulled on.

You should fill the reservoir. That could have triggered the light if it was the service light, although I thought that car has the low fluid indicator. If it was a check engine light it could be an O2 sensor. It could be starting to act up. Sometimes those come on intermittently to let you know the sensor is starting to fail.

Hope this helps,

Old 10-04-07, 11:05 AM
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Thanks Bob.

Now I'm curious to know what actually popped up. I do think it was the service light though. I've never had that come up before just to get my oil change or other maintenance things. I could have gotten the terms mixed up too though. I'm not even sure! I've always called THAT light my "check engine light". Best I check my manual and see what really came up.

You're right about getting the codes b/c I told them it was the "Check engine light" or the "Check engine service" or something!!!!

I'll fill the reservoir. I've never in the last 100,000 miles of me driving this car seen a "low fluid" indicator. I'm wondering if it even has it. I'm going to look into that too.

Thanks bunches
Old 10-04-07, 11:25 AM
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The CHECK ENGINE light and the SERVICE ENGINE SOON light are for the same reasons. The computer is telling you there is a fault in the emission related parts on your vehicle. If the light came on, you need to have your vehicle scasnned for trouble codes. These will give a starting point for the repair. Some major parts houses will read the codes for free in hopes you buy the parts they tell you is bad. Best thing to do, if engine is running good, is to get the exact code number and post it back.
Old 10-04-07, 11:33 AM
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Just checked my manual and there's no "Check Engine Light". Only "Service Engine Soon". It says that if the light goes off, I'll be fine.

Also the manual shows no "Low Fluid Indicator". Oh well.

You're right about the emissions thing. It was steady and not blinking, so according to the manual, if it's steady:

"An emission control system malfunction has been detected. Check the fuel filler cap. If the fuel filler cap is loose or missing, tighten or install the cap and continue to drive the vehicle." Then, it should turn off after a few trips.

This is was happened, except I didn't do anything with the fuel filler cap

I'll fill the reservoir, stop into Auto Zone and see what code I get. But, now that the light is off (maybe it'll pop up again later, but) would't that be a good sign or there's still possibilities of problems?

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