A warning light came on in my car. One of those mysterious little graphics that-- to the Automotively Unschooled such as myself-- are more frightening by the fact that they're lit, than any idea what the frig it's supposed to symbollize.
"Crikey-moses, I think my personal exploration submarine is going to blow!"
Realizing there probably wasn't enough room under the spare tire for a hidden marine submersible--- disappointing: I'd had my heart set on seeing those transparent fish who are their own flashlights-- I dug out the owner's manual.
It turns out the meaning of the warning sensor is actually more convoluted than a 60s psychedelic musical cartoon based around an excess of Liverpudlians cohabitating in a sunny steel shark.
In fact, it could indicate any one of the following:
Something is wrong with your emissions. Which means something is wrong with your engine. Or transaxle. Or exhaust, intake, or fuel system. Possibly air freshener.
Which means your car will either stall out on a four-lane highway where you become instant paté-in-a-can for packs of very lost dingoes... Or, you'll make it to the mechanics only to learn everything but the cupholders are ruined, and you owe them your first born child and/or spun gold as payment.
The engine, which has tragically bad aim when it's been drinking heavily (especially the cheap stuff), has misfired. Giving itself a flesh wound. This may or may not require service, depending on how macho it is. VW Bugs will ask for floral-printed Band-Aids (ouchless) and a hug from the nearest maintenance man. Dodge Rams will only cry on the inside.
The emissions system is simply confused and cranky. The car may be feeling the effects of a loose gas cap. Rain might be frizzing its electrics. Its gas tank might be queasy from a new brand of fuel. Or the car might be held sway by the light of a full moon and Team Jacob. If the latter, druids should be called in to make the light go off. Though, it may go off on its own, after it's had a good cry.
So you could wait.
Or you could explode in a fiery ball of flame and rubber Hello Kitty floormats.
Your call, really.
The funny thing is, as far as I can tell, the information on the problem is really no different than the Service Engine Soon light. I've written about that before. Does the Mini-Sub-looking icon indicate a greater level of peril than the big square "Service Engine Soon" icon?
Or does it simply mean that when I finally bow to the power of the light and take my car in, the mechanic will tell me it has... oh, I don't know... a small case of the Blue Meanies...
...And that "that'll be $700 Meanie-Extraction-and-Light-Resetting, Ma'am"?
If the last one's the case, I might just tell them to leave the Meanies there. I like company for my commutes. As long as they wouldn't go screwing with my stereo, we'd be cool.
And speaking of music. All together now... Everybody...
"We all live in a red 'Check Engine' light...
Red 'Check Engine' light...
Red 'Check Engine' light..."