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need to retrieve computer code- 97 taurus


jeff67's Avatar
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01-08-02, 11:04 AM   #1  
need to retrieve computer code- 97 taurus

My "Service Engine Soon" light stays on all the time when the engine is running on my 97 ford taurus. It just started today. I called some auto parts stores, looking for a code scanner and was told I need a $200 scanner. I don't want to pay this much just to get a code. Is there another way to retrieve the codes by making the service light flash or using a volt meter somehow?
The engine is a 3.0L OHV.

Thanks

 
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01-08-02, 03:22 PM   #2  
danielmccoy
Go to local Autozone store and ask them to read the code for you with their OBD II reader. I don't know if all Autozone stores will do this for you or not but the one I go to will.

 
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01-08-02, 03:46 PM   #3  
Joe_F
Or rent the code reader from them through their tool program.

Welcome to new cars and OBDII. It's why I don't own them .

 
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01-08-02, 05:43 PM   #4  
Thanks for the advice. I'll call autozone and see if they scan it or rent the scanner to me. I did see an OBDII scanner at sears for $150 but thats still way too much to pay for checking one code.

 
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01-08-02, 11:32 PM   #5  
Joe_F
Depends on your outlook .

If you're going to keep the car, you're bound to use it. OBDII is a PITA and the light will go on over time and it's good to know what is causing it .

Sure you can rent the scanner each time, but after a while, I like to have it for my own use.

You might find more than one code when you scan it .

 
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01-09-02, 05:14 AM   #6  
All cars use the same system, so if you buy a reader it can be used with anything you drive. I bought an Actron reader from my local Advance Auto Parts, it was cheaper here than any price I found on the web. If you do a google search for OBD-II trouble codes you find a lot of info on what the codes mean. As far as the $150, if you save just one trip to a shop you've recovered the cost. Problem is, there are so many minor codes reported in OBD-II that it's hard to use the code and find the real problem. But I like knowing what I've got before I take the car in because I've had some of the local dealers feed me a line of bs going in blind.

 
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01-09-02, 09:49 AM   #7  
bledsoe
Is OBD-II a "protocol" that all cars must follow? If so, what year did all automakers agree to follow OBD-II? And if not, do some cars use something else??

Thanks

 
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01-09-02, 02:57 PM   #8  
danielmccoy
I believe all vehicles after and including '96 use OBDII. Joe can probably verify that.

 
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01-09-02, 03:40 PM   #9  
Joe_F
OBD II means 2nd generation onboard computer diagnostics. Most 1996 and newer cars use this system.

1) It is more sensitive to emission failures and sensors falling out or range.

2) It monitors emission efficiency.

3) It tried to "standardize" the way that diagnostics are performed.

For now, the technology is a bit new and diagnostic tools are not available in the mainstream that much to the average DIY guy. No 30 dollar code readers for OBDII yet.

Years ago, you could easily jump out the diagnostic connector to read your codes. No more with newer cars.

 
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01-09-02, 07:00 PM   #10  
Good points Joe and Ichabod. It might be worth buying the scanner. I was shocked at the price of it when I had seen other scanners, before, costing around $30-$40 so i just assumed(isn't there something about that word i have heard before?) that i could get a similar price on one for my car. Knowing my luck, I will get the scanner, use it once, then won't have any more problems till i get my next car which will require the new and improved OBDIII scanner. You know they can't keep OBDII around but for so long or the scanner companies would lose out. What happened to the days where you could hook up a jumper wire and have the codes flash right out on the dash light without ever having to leave home? Those were the good old days...better yet, the days when you didn't have all these emissions controls.

For now, I'm going to try and get someone to scan it for me and see if i can get by with that. If not, i'll whip out the gold ol' visa at sears. That's what my visa was intended for when i got it...these little emergencies...but somehow, i've managed to run it up quite a bit on women! They never fail to drain your wallet. Anyone have a solution to that? LOL

Joe_F: What do you mean by PITA?

 
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01-09-02, 11:45 PM   #11  
Joe_F
Lol. No known solution for that .

PITA- Pain in the you know what .

You can always rent it from Autozone as you need it for now and see how often you'll use it.

 
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01-10-02, 12:35 AM   #12  
I see--PITA--I very much agree!!

 
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01-10-02, 01:08 AM   #13  
Think we need to come up with a glossary for the mech-speak terms, Joe. One I get to use a lot is p.o.s. - piece of do-do.

 
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01-10-02, 02:01 AM   #14  
Joe_F
Lol.

The DIY.com reference book .

Good one TowGuy.

 
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01-11-02, 04:04 PM   #15  
I finally broke down and bought an actron scanner from sears. It gave me one code, 0301, which means Cylinder 1 misfire detected. The "Power Train" light was lit when it gave me the code. I'm not sure what that means, if anything. I have never noticed any misfiring before. I cleared the codes, drove around a few miles and the "service engine soon" light never came on again.

My Haynes manual says the light will usually stay on until the codes are cleared with a scanner, even if it's an intermittent problem. You are right Joe_F. OBDII is a PITA!

I had talked to a girl at work who's husband is a mechanic, and she said that he said most of the time the code(s) can be cleared and won't come back. He thinks manufactures might have the light come on so people will have to bring their car in for repair. Could this be possible?

I might have ignored it, if this wasn't my only vehicle, because a man at work, with a '96 taurus, said his light has been on for about the last 50,000 miles and it runs fine. My car was running fine too. Anyway, I now have some peace of mind (which is worth at least $150) that everything on my car is ok, at least for now, and if the light comes on again, i'll have my scanner for it.

 
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01-11-02, 04:50 PM   #16  
Jeff67, It's nice to see there are still some folks out there that aren't afraid of trying to work on these newer vehicles.
The misfire code you mentioned is as you stated for cylinder #1.
Since you stated you haven't noticed any engine misses,i would have done the same as you have done and cleared the codes and roadtested.I've seen a couple of things cause this code without an engine misfire.
(1) Camshaft position sensor
(2) running low on fuel
I myself was like you and didn't care much for the obd11 systems at first,but after you get familiar with it ,it's like daylight compared to dark over the older systems.Think of this,if you had a misfire on an older vehicle i'll bet you the vehicle itself couldn't tell you which cylinder has the problem,but on these new ones it gets you pretty close.

 
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01-11-02, 06:39 PM   #17  
I try to do any minor repairs that I can. I'm more afraid of the cost of taking my car to a shop than anything else. I see what you mean by OBDII making things easier, especially if you are a mechanic.

Hopefully, the MIL light won't come on again, but if it was the crankshaft or camshaft position sensor, would I get a code for that as well?

One other unrelated qurestion for you, fordtech or anyone who can answer: Now that you mention low fuel, i know it wasn't low on fuel because when it gets to a quarter tank, the gas gauge fluctuates a lot and sometimes sits on dead empty then goes back up so I dont let it get to that point often because I hate seeing the gauge on empty. I read a TSB or a recall notice about this but couldnt figure out if my car would be covered if its a recall. Do you know if there is a recall on this for my car?

Thanks

 
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01-12-02, 09:10 AM   #18  
The camshaft position sensor most of the time won't give you a code specifically for it.The sensor uses cylinder #1 for the signal to fire the other cylinders,thereby if the signal to the computer
isn't there(due to a bad cam sensor)the computer thinks the engine is misfiring.Common sign of a camshaft sensor malfunction is the misfire code with no noticeable engine miss by the driver.
As far as the floating gauge,most of them seem to do it.I'm not sure of any cure(I haven't really checked)but i drive a 98 taurus and my wife has a 99 sable and guess what they both do it.

 
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01-13-02, 04:56 AM   #19  
Joe_F
Most gauges "float" on lower levels of fuel.

As you turn and move, the fuel is sloshing around away from the pick up tube and sender. So the sender sees nothing and lowers the float.

Running a fuel injected car low on fuel is bad practice. You starve the pump for fuel, which in essence starves it for lubrication and cooling ability.

Old Joe fills up a quarter tank, no less .

 
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