From a young age, I was taught to fear the check engine light. To me, that little icon meant to expect smoke, flames, and the imminent death of your vehicle if you didn’t pull over immediately. With that kind of perspective, you can imagine what was going through my head when an audible “ding” was followed by an illuminated engine light on the dashboard of my minivan.
I knew that my dealership charges $80 just to hook the van up and read the error code reported by the vehicle’s internal computer. On top of that, there would be the cost to repair whatever was wrong with the vehicle. But I wasn’t going that route.
I knew that a nearby auto parts store provided diagnostics for a check engine light for FREE.
The gentleman at the auto parts store did even more than I expected. After retrieving the code by connecting a cable from a handheld device to a port under my dashboard, he looked up the code’s meaning in the store. With their help, as well as a little extra internet searching on my own, I was able to determine that the only thing wrong with my van was a blown fuse, which cost me a few dollars to replace.
Through this experience, I learned that two auto parts stores in my area provide useful services that could save me a trip to the mechanic or dealership.
Here are the services they provide:
- Free check engine diagnostics: This is the service described in my story. They read the code, then give you the definition and possible causes. In my case, I could replace the fuse myself — but should the needed repair be more complicated, the information provided can be used to do price comparisons between mechanics.
- Free battery check: I live in Minnesota, so it’s important to make sure my battery is in good condition before the cold weather hits. A quick trip to the auto parts store will tell me how my battery is doing. As you may expect, they also carry batteries should a replacement be needed.
- Loan-a-tool program: If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person, you may find that some repairs require a tool you don’t own. Both of the auto parts stores in my area have a program to loan you the tool. Though they do require a deposit almost equal to the value of the tool, this program is still a better option than purchasing an expensive or seldom used tool.
Having to repair, or even maintain, a vehicle can be expensive. Give the auto parts stores in your area a call, and see what money saving services they can provide for you!
Have you ever taken advantage of free services at an auto parts store? How did it turn out for you?