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Old 11-24-2015, 01:44 PM
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Dealer wants $3500+ to diagnose check engine light - Need Advice!

Here's the story... I have a 2007 Wrangler Model X with ~34k miles. It's been well taken care of, but the check engine light came on and can't figure out why. Apparently no one can. The first mechanic changed all the plugs for $350 which turned the check engine light off for a day, then it came back on. Then brought it to the dealer, and they said it would cost $3500 to open up the engine to see what the problem is. I don't know much about auto repair, but this seemed a bit costly for a repair on a well maintained jeep with very low miles.

With very limited auto repair skills, is there anything I can troubleshoot myself to see whats wrong? Or... is there something I can ask a new mechanic to check which wont involve taking apart the engine for $3.5k?

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Old 11-24-2015, 01:45 PM   #2
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Stop at any auto parts store and they will hook up a code reader for free. Thats a start

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Old 11-24-2015, 01:45 PM   #3
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take it somewhere else. go to autozone and have them read the code and go from there.
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Old 11-24-2015, 01:52 PM   #4
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My '03 TJ Rubicon did the same thing. It happened to be a dry cell battery that needed to be replaced. I would connect another battery to it for a couple of days to see if this gets rid of the Check Engine light - after renting a code reader.
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Old 11-24-2015, 02:00 PM   #5
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I also recall that the 2007's were plagued with the evap system leak which if you google generally is an easy fix.
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Old 11-24-2015, 02:03 PM   #6
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Find a reputable repair shop that can pull the codes and maybe run a compression check, etc. A few hundred should get you diagnosed...
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Old 11-24-2015, 02:17 PM   #7
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Most absurd thing I ever heard. First, dump your dealer.
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Old 11-24-2015, 03:35 PM   #8
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Please tell us who your dealer is so we know to stay clear.

As said above, most any auto parts store will read the codes for you.

and for less than $20 off amozon or other internet place, you can get an OBDCII reader that you can connect to your smart phone.
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Old 11-24-2015, 03:48 PM   #9
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Did the dealer explain why they want to open the engine? Not sure any dealer would open up an engine without having some suspicion.
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Old 11-24-2015, 04:57 PM   #10
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If you can post up the codes some people might have a few suggestions you can try first.

If it is evap related, I had an issue with my gas cap that triggered the evap code...can't remember the specific code tho. Replaced the gas cap and code gone, hopefully it's something this simple, but without codes that is just a crazy shot in the dark ;-)
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Old 11-24-2015, 05:26 PM   #11
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As a few people said, take it to Auto Zone they do a free diagnostics test with the engine light on and can print the code(s) for you on a little piece of paper. Then go home and type into google : Diagnostics error code P4055 (I'm just using P0455 as in example) or if there are more than one just look them up one at a time. Then rather then taking it to the dealership and saying my engine light is on and I don't know why and leaving yourself open to be ripped off, say I need my evap system checked or leaks , or 02 censor replaced or so on and so on.. based on what you looked up for the code errors. When in doubt goto the University of YouTube!!
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Old 11-24-2015, 05:52 PM   #12
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If Autozone could DIAGNOSE a vehicle by plugging in a code reader, there would be a crapload of technicians out of work. First things first,,, what code(s) did they pull at the dealer? Not just the 5 digit (like P0455), but the 7 digit (P0455-02), as an example. Depending on what codes were pulled will determine what diagnostic procedure needs to be followed. Everyone bashes the dealer (sometimes it's deserved, don't get me wrong), but I wouldn't want anyone else, except myself, to be "opening up" my engine. I'm assuming they are using the $3500 as a teardown/diagnostics to get an accurate estimate for the repair. Also, I would expect that if they need to go that deep, that it would be credited towards the repair, like head gaskets or piston rings, etc. You don't give enough information in your original post for anyone here to "guess" what your problem is. I'm sure they gave you more info than what you're giving us.
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Old 11-24-2015, 06:00 PM   #13
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You can read your own codes for less than $20 on any android cell phone. Buy a bluetooth OBDII adapter off of amazon and the torque pro app. Most useful tool I own!

That dealership is absolutely walking off with your money.
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Old 11-24-2015, 09:31 PM   #14
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Maybe I worded it wrong , but yes auto zone has a tool that gives you codes that will lead up to figuring out why your engine light is on.. Not so sure a dealership will tell you what codes popped up, if so they would not have the pleasure of taking your money to fix it!! Good luck!!
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Old 11-25-2015, 06:33 AM   #15
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I'm only going to venture a guess that since your first mechanic started with the plugs to clear the code, it involves some type of misfire.

Did the second place pull the new plugs and find them fouled? One of the 3.8's main failings seems to be piston ring issues, and unfortunately its something that happens regardless of mileage or maintenance. It seems premature to start quoting you prices without at least doing a compression test or telling you exactly what it is they plan to do.

The price they're giving you pretty much puts you in the ballpark of a remanufactured engine! Yikes.
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Old 11-25-2015, 08:33 AM   #16
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Reset the computer by pulling the positive cable for 10 min .. Sometimes a reset will do wonders.

If you have a misfire it could simply be a tank of bad gas. If this has been going on for more then a tank of fuel it could be a bad injector. A bottle of injector/fuel system cleaner may do the trick.

Since the Jeep only has 34K I would not be surprised if things are gummed up a bit from sitting so much.

I just went through this .. Misfire #6 ran like crap and all it was was bad gas. Fresh tank of gas and all is well.
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Old 11-25-2015, 01:58 PM   #17
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Does that year have a cam position sensor ?
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Old 11-25-2015, 06:06 PM   #18
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Does that year have a cam position sensor ?
Just a crank position sensor. The 3.8 is old school it has a timing chain and pushrods.
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Old 11-26-2015, 12:19 AM   #19
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The tj will display codes on the odometer when u turn on and off 3 times. I'm not sure if the jk will do it too.
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Old 11-27-2015, 07:27 PM   #20
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It does- that would be a good place to start...
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Old 11-27-2015, 07:38 PM   #21
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$350 for plugs! WTF

Find a new dealer.. and for $3500 you can buy a brand new engine and have an independent shop install it for the cost of them opening up your current one.
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Old 11-27-2015, 08:51 PM   #22
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$350 for plugs! WTF

Find a new dealer.. and for $3500 you can buy a brand new engine and have an independent shop install it for the cost of them opening up your current one.
most of that 350$ is removing and installing the intake manifold since you need to remove it to get to the back 3 plugs if im not mistaken
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Old 11-28-2015, 10:53 AM   #23
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Maybe I worded it wrong , but yes auto zone has a tool that gives you codes that will lead up to figuring out why your engine light is on.. Not so sure a dealership will tell you what codes popped up, if so they would not have the pleasure of taking your money to fix it!! Good luck!!
Codes tell you what system is malfunctioning. They do not tell you why. Some codes may only have a few likely causes. Other codes, like misfire or evap leak codes, can have dozens of possible causes. So even with the code, you can waste a ton of time and money throwing parts on the car if you don't know how to diagnose these problems.

And when the guy at the store scans your car and makes a suggestion, keep in mind that they are a parts retailer, not a technician.

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I'm only going to venture a guess that since your first mechanic started with the plugs to clear the code, it involves some type of misfire.

Did the second place pull the new plugs and find them fouled? One of the 3.8's main failings seems to be piston ring issues, and unfortunately its something that happens regardless of mileage or maintenance. It seems premature to start quoting you prices without at least doing a compression test or telling you exactly what it is they plan to do.
I would agree. Sounds like they are encountering a misfire issue. And sometimes you can't know for sure without taking a lot of stuff apart. But they need a reason to suggest engine teardown. For example, "Performed compression test, found low compression in XYZ cylinders. Performed cylinder leakage test, found X% leakage into exhaust/crankcase/cooling system. Suspect failed head gasket/exhaust valve/piston rings. Requires teardown to confirm starting at X hours labor = $3500."

If I'm working on a car, that's the sort of notes you will find on my ticket, and what will be passed on to the customer by the service writer. Admittedly most customers do not understand the technical stuff, but simply saying it needs $3500 to diagnose, without explaining what has been done, what will be done, and why it must be done, is not acceptable.
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Old 11-28-2015, 11:48 AM   #24
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If a dealer told me that they wanted $3500 to diagnose a problem, I'd let them know I would post their dealership's name and location on every Jeep forum I'm a member of, and that everyone should stay away from such thieves.
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Old 11-28-2015, 01:06 PM   #25
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If a dealer told me that they wanted $3500 to diagnose a problem, I'd let them know I would post their dealership's name and location on every Jeep forum I'm a member of, and that everyone should stay away from such thieves.
So you expect them to have x-ray vision and/or work for free?

There are times where teardown is necessary for a definitive answer. And that involves a lot of time and associated parts to reassemble. But like I said, they need to have a good explanation of what they have done so far, and why they want to proceed in the teardown. If their explanation is insufficient, simply take your car to another shop.
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Old 11-28-2015, 01:52 PM   #26
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Here's the story... I have a 2007 Wrangler Model X with ~34k miles. It's been well taken care of, but the check engine light came on and can't figure out why. Apparently no one can. The first mechanic changed all the plugs for $350 which turned the check engine light off for a day, then it came back on. Then brought it to the dealer, and they said it would cost $3500 to open up the engine to see what the problem is. I don't know much about auto repair, but this seemed a bit costly for a repair on a well maintained jeep with very low miles.

With very limited auto repair skills, is there anything I can troubleshoot myself to see whats wrong? Or... is there something I can ask a new mechanic to check which wont involve taking apart the engine for $3.5k?
Even if you have taken care of the Jeep, parts can go bad, and often do. Not sure what is going on here, there seems to be a lot of missing information. Why they would need to do a complete tear down of the engine is a mystery.

But, you are free to take it to another dealer, or better yet, a trusted mechanic, for a second opinion. The dealer is the LAST place I would ever take any of my vehicles when they are out of warranty. I don't trust any of them to be completely honest.

I'm lucky that I have a great relationship with the family owned shop around the corner. He sometimes even lets me know whats wrong, knowing I can fix it myself.

Good luck. Come back and tell us if you find out anything new.
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Old 11-28-2015, 08:46 PM   #27
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most of that 350$ is removing and installing the intake manifold since you need to remove it to get to the back 3 plugs if im not mistaken
Not on the 3.8. They're all just staring you in the face, except for the last on on the passengers side. I pulled the tire and went from the side. It still wasn't as bad as others I've worked on.

Maybe you're thinking of the 3.5L where all three of the plugs on the passenger side are under the intake manifold?
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Old 11-28-2015, 08:48 PM   #28
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So you expect them to have x-ray vision and/or work for free? There are times where teardown is necessary for a definitive answer. And that involves a lot of time and associated parts to reassemble. But like I said, they need to have a good explanation of what they have done so far, and why they want to proceed in the teardown. If their explanation is insufficient, simply take your car to another shop.
Who the hell said X-ray vision?!? 3,500 is ridiculous for a diagnosis. Maybe a repair, but not a diagnosis.
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Old 11-28-2015, 08:51 PM   #29
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anybody think it is funny the OP has a single post and has never returned lol. Perhaps he just tightened his gas cap and all was good lol.
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Old 11-28-2015, 09:11 PM   #30
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anybody think it is funny the OP has a single post and has never returned lol. Perhaps he just tightened his gas cap and all was good lol.
Right^^^^^

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