Is it safe to drive with a slow emissions leak?
September 21, 2007 9:10 AM   Subscribe

A few days ago my check engine light came on, so I took my car to an auto parts store and had them run a check. They said that the computer said I have a slow emissions leak. My cousin died earlier this week, and I need to drive approximately 100 miles this afternoon to go to her funeral. Is this safe? And when I take the car in, how much should I expect to pay for this?
posted by odayoday to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The only danger is that you'll fail an emissions test.
posted by smackfu at 9:16 AM on September 21, 2007

'Slow emissions leak' as in an exhaust leak? I wasn't aware that car computers were able to notice that.

If the leak is just a small exhaust leak and not getting into the cabin, you're probably fine, though leaving a windows rolled down a bit while driving isn't a bad idea.

Of course, the safest bet would be to carpool with someone, if you that that option.
posted by jjb at 9:19 AM on September 21, 2007

Yeah, it's probably safe. It could actually be something as simple as a loose (or failing) gas cap.
posted by drstein at 9:22 AM on September 21, 2007

1. I would personally feel OK driving the car 100 miles in this condition.

2. There is no way to predict how much this would cost, as the diagnosis is very vague.
posted by davey_darling at 9:23 AM on September 21, 2007

I believe you can check the error codes on most cars by turning the key to the on/off position 3 times (on/off, on/off, on/off). This should show you the error code(s) that are causing the check engine light to turn on. If you perform a Google search with these error codes along with the make/model of your car, you should be able to get more information on the problem, and whether or not it's safe to drive in these conditions.

Also, if you want to "reset" your error codes (i.e. make the Check Engine light disappear), you can disconnect the car battery for about half an hour. This should reset everything, and if the check engine light doesn't appear again, you'll know that this was just a one-time problem that has now disappeared (i.e. loose gas-cap).
posted by mcroy at 9:35 AM on September 21, 2007

Blinking "Check Engine" lights are the kind you have to worry about. (Your car may vary.)
posted by smackfu at 9:43 AM on September 21, 2007

Thanks, guys! The guy at the auto parts store said that my gas cap didn't seem to have much pressure and sold me a new one, but I didn't know about resetting the check engine light so I assumed that that wasn't the problem. I'll definitely try that before I take it in anywhere. The car is only three years old, so I'm hoping it's not something serious.
posted by odayoday at 9:45 AM on September 21, 2007

My car had what I think was the same problem. The mechanic said it was a problem with newer cars where the computer was too sensitive. Since I needed an inspection, he reset the computer, told me the computer wouldn't register the problem unless the gas gauge was under 3/4 full, so to keep the tank full until I had driven 50 miles so I could get it reinspected.
posted by Ruki at 10:08 AM on September 21, 2007

What kind of car is it? If it's a late model Toyota, call your local dealer and ask them about recalls related to the check engine light.

If this is true in your case, you are definitely safe to drive.

Also, try replacing the gas cap.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:06 PM on September 21, 2007

Nothing to worry about if it is an emissions code. Faulty gas caps are very common.
posted by Mitheral at 5:51 PM on September 21, 2007

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