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Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: Acer
Date: April 02, 2019 11:22AM
We have a touchy check engine light. Gas from station A tends to turn it on, gas from Station B tends to turn it off. Our mechanic says the CEL codes indicate that it's something in the catalytic converter system that may eventually need to be addressed, but can be put off as long as the light does not stay on all the time. (And it's not the gas cap.)

The conjecture is that Station A has more ethanol in the mix than Station B, and that is what is tipping the balance. Naturally, Station A is the conveniently located station.

It's not a terrible big deal normally, but for some odd reason this Toyota is intentionally designed to turn its traction control system off when the CEL trips, even if the issue is not related to traction control. Weird. So, add that to the reasons to keep it the CEL off as much as possible.

Question: IF it's the gasoline blend that's causing the CEL to trip, is there an additive one can purchase to lessen the negative effects?
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: Gareth
Date: April 02, 2019 11:28AM
I wonder if an octane booster would help, although it's not really a cost effective solution. Any additive is going to add a few dollars to each fill up.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: mikebw
Date: April 02, 2019 11:34AM
Have you tried a different octane from Station A?
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: JoeH
Date: April 02, 2019 11:46AM
Without an actual fuel analysis or emissions test when the light is on to show why it is on, you would be just guessing at a reason. Using an additive might just make it worse when running on station A's fuel. A might have less ethanol the B for instance.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: numbered
Date: April 02, 2019 12:06PM
I had a truck with similar symptoms and wondered about the gas. And since I did not drive the truck a lot, I wondered about the age of the gas.

In the end, it turned out that I had a flakey Oxygen sensor...I got different codes, but the mechanic said the sensor was cheaper to try. And he was right. So if you go with a repair, try the cheaper things before you deal with the cat.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: Filliam H. Muffman
Date: April 02, 2019 12:29PM
Need more info.

If you are buying the lowest grade gas at station A, try the next higher grade.

If the car is newer than 1997, you can get an OBD-II monitoring computer to watch the O2 sensor and converter. Hard to say if it's worth the expense.



In tha 360. MRF User Map
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: MrNoBody
Date: April 02, 2019 12:43PM
Have you tried using a Top Tier gas brand only?
Rare but not unheard of, Station A may have an issue with moisture getting into their tank.

BG Products has fuel products they claim fight ethanol problems. You can't just buy them, you have to go to an 'authorized' shop,
which makes folks complain BG is some type of ML marketing.



N39° 39.7234', W075° 33.9788'
...word salad is not a disorder, it is a symptom...

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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/02/2019 12:44PM by MrNoBody.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: Carm
Date: April 02, 2019 12:56PM
I have a touchy o2 sensor that turns on the CEL every couple of weeks, then clears itself. car is 10 years old. Just going to install a o2 spacer to deal with the problem. It’s been doing it for over a year.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/02/2019 12:57PM by Carm.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: April 02, 2019 01:42PM
Run a can of seafoam into it. And definitely get an OBDII dongle... a Wifi version is like $12 on Amazon, works with iOS or Android. Android's "Torque" app is more mature and capable.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: April 02, 2019 02:29PM
What car? What gas brands?




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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: April 02, 2019 02:53PM
Quote
Carm
I have a touchy o2 sensor that turns on the CEL every couple of weeks, then clears itself. car is 10 years old. Just going to install a o2 spacer to deal with the problem. It’s been doing it for over a year.

this is my guess, too. it would be odd for just a type of gas to cause a CEL. however, I have had horrible gas from one particular location, and I attributed that to dirty gas, basically sediment in the tanks. don't know, of course, but that was my take on this location.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: Speedy
Date: April 02, 2019 03:49PM
Call your state's weights and measures department. Ask them to check the water level in the tanks at the station that trips your CEL and get back to you. Likely the station hasn't pumped the water out of its tanks in quite some time.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: Carm
Date: April 02, 2019 07:05PM
Quote
mrbigstuff
Quote
Carm
I have a touchy o2 sensor that turns on the CEL every couple of weeks, then clears itself. car is 10 years old. Just going to install a o2 spacer to deal with the problem. It’s been doing it for over a year.

this is my guess, too. it would be odd for just a type of gas to cause a CEL. however, I have had horrible gas from one particular location, and I attributed that to dirty gas, basically sediment in the tanks. don't know, of course, but that was my take on this location.

My FIL says he got some bad gas at a gas station while visiting a friend in AZ, had to tow him home to CA. His car ran horrid and he was afraid to drive home In said condition. Ford Dealer cleaned out tank and injectors. Said it was bad gas and that’s what my FIL told me after getting his car back.

I wouldn’t rule out the additives, but I think the catalytic converter might be just old like mine is. Mine is on its last leg at least one side is, one side got replaced 3 years ago after it got clogged when it collapsed in itself. It was still covered under warranty, so it was a $100 diagnostic fee. My converters got some unburnt fuel run through it a few times when the ignition coils where failing.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: April 02, 2019 08:25PM
Quote
Carm
Quote
mrbigstuff
Quote
Carm
I have a touchy o2 sensor that turns on the CEL every couple of weeks, then clears itself. car is 10 years old. Just going to install a o2 spacer to deal with the problem. It’s been doing it for over a year.

this is my guess, too. it would be odd for just a type of gas to cause a CEL. however, I have had horrible gas from one particular location, and I attributed that to dirty gas, basically sediment in the tanks. don't know, of course, but that was my take on this location.

My FIL says he got some bad gas at a gas station while visiting a friend in AZ, had to tow him home to CA. His car ran horrid and he was afraid to drive home In said condition. Ford Dealer cleaned out tank and injectors. Said it was bad gas and that’s what my FIL told me after getting his car back.

I wouldn’t rule out the additives, but I think the catalytic converter might be just old like mine is. Mine is on its last leg at least one side is, one side got replaced 3 years ago after it got clogged when it collapsed in itself. It was still covered under warranty, so it was a $100 diagnostic fee. My converters got some unburnt fuel run through it a few times when the ignition coils where failing.

ten years for a cat is actually at about midway. they are designed to last for a very long time (nowadays, this was not always the case). unless you have 250k miles or more. why was the other replaced? (my volvos have 200k + miles with no cat problems. and this is not unusual.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: Carm
Date: April 02, 2019 10:35PM
Cat had clog from internal corrosion (how did it get there? No clue) tech installed a new one on right side. Car only has 92k miles, but like I said, unburnt fuel went through it two different times as the ignition coils failed one at a time. Third one failed as the parts came in.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: Thrift Store Scott
Date: April 02, 2019 11:50PM
Quote
numbered
I had a truck with similar symptoms and wondered about the gas. And since I did not drive the truck a lot, I wondered about the age of the gas.

In the end, it turned out that I had a flakey Oxygen sensor...I got different codes, but the mechanic said the sensor was cheaper to try. And he was right. So if you go with a repair, try the cheaper things before you deal with the cat.

^ This. The oxygen sensors I've had to buy weren't particularly expensive, and most weren't very hard to swap out, at least as easy as a spark plug and far easier than a lot of those I've dealt with.

Quote
Carm
I have a touchy o2 sensor that turns on the CEL every couple of weeks, then clears itself. car is 10 years old. Just going to install a o2 spacer to deal with the problem. It’s been doing it for over a year.

If you're going to go to the trouble of installing an o2 sensor spacer (What kind of black magic spell is that supposed to cast?), why not just replace the iffy-and-possibly-slowly-failing-anyway o2 sensor and be done with it?



Lie to me if you must, but don't lie to me and insult my intelligence in the same sentence.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: Carm
Date: April 03, 2019 02:42AM
Scott, when I mean touchy, I really mean a cat that’s not as efficient as it should be (I have a feeling it’s because of the of the unburnt fuel messing with the cat magic) If I give the car a little to much gas, the CEL turns on after a while. P0420 code. I’ve replaced the Down stream O2 sensor already. The O2 spacer pulls the O2 sensor directly out of the exhaust stream and is a $6 investment if it works. (O2 sensor on the low end starts at $52 and up to $96 for OEM)
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: Thrift Store Scott
Date: April 03, 2019 05:43AM
Quote
Carm
Scott, when I mean touchy, I really mean a cat that’s not as efficient as it should be (I have a feeling it’s because of the of the unburnt fuel messing with the cat magic) If I give the car a little to much gas, the CEL turns on after a while. P0420 code. I’ve replaced the Down stream O2 sensor already. The O2 spacer pulls the O2 sensor directly out of the exhaust stream and is a $6 investment if it works. (O2 sensor on the low end starts at $52 and up to $96 for OEM)

Gotcha. The last o2 sensor I bought was, if I recall correctly, $14.95, but that was for a very common American car that used the same part for both upstream and downstream locations. My earlier sarcasm was based mainly on a roommate I had who insisted that using spark plug spacers (remember those?) completely remedied his car's extremely worn piston rings and resultant habit of oil-fouling plugs on a regular basis. If the root cause of the problem is unburned fuel crud bunnies clogging up the catalytic converter, a long trip consisting mostly of steady speed highway miles to burn them off would be my first recommendation if you haven't tried that already because that used to work wonders on the old, evil, clog-prone pellet-type converters, but if you've tried that to no avail a dose of Seafoam or similar probably couldn't hurt, either.

My apologies for my earlier snarkiness and good luck!



Lie to me if you must, but don't lie to me and insult my intelligence in the same sentence.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: tenders
Date: April 03, 2019 06:32AM
Without knowing the code, this is all speculation and storytelling.

And even knowing the code, it's still a lot of speculation.

Second the motion to buy an OBD code reader. I'm not a fan of the Bluetooth ones, actually, although I own one. By the time you find it, and get it plugged in and set up with the phone, you might as well just grab your old-school wired one off the shelf and read the code off the display.

Little different story if you're constantly fine-tuning the engine, but this isn't that.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: Carm
Date: April 03, 2019 09:34AM
Thanks for the tip Scott, it was my own fault for not providing more info. I’ve driven to San Diego round trip recently and it didn’t help the situation. Will try the SeaFoam before the Spacer.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: April 03, 2019 11:09AM
Seafoam is a cleaner, but it will be burned up after combustion, so it will not help with anything downstream of ignition. It does help with cleaning up valves and fuel injectors.

The last time I used an additive, however, i used Techron (the concentrate) and that worked better than Seafoam, IMO.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: Carm
Date: April 03, 2019 01:00PM
That’s what I figured mrbigstuff, cleaner engine running more efficient... maybe.
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Re: Of ethanol and check engine lights. Additive?
Posted by: rjmacs
Date: April 04, 2019 07:59AM
'Doc, I get diarrhea every time I go to this restaurant, but I love their food - is there something I can take to help with my intestines?'

I would just start buying gas elsewhere to start.



rj
AKA
Vreemac, Moth of the Future
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