SERVICE_ENGINE_SOON_light_on | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

SERVICE_ENGINE_SOON_light_on

Discussion in '3rd Gen 1997-2002 2.0L SOHC' started by Brian Begg, Dec 16, 2018.

  1. Brian Begg

    Brian Begg FEOA Member

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    16 Dec. '18

    Hi All:

    I have a 1998 Ford Escort LX with very low milaege (83,000+ original miles).

    PROBLEM: the "Service Engine Soon" light came on about 2 weeks ago

    HISTORY: I took the car in for 3 month oil change (a new place). They did
    the oil change AND checked other things as well. They told me there was an
    oil leak and transmission leak. I told them there is NO leaks in this car (i've
    seen none underneath AND i service my car regular). Also, I put some gas
    treatment into my tank to clean the fuel injectors after the oil change.

    About a week after the oil change, I noticed the "Service Engine Soon" light
    came on and has stayed on (constant, not flashing). I do not notice any leaks
    under my car since the oil change.

    WHAT TO DO: i'd like to DIY if I can. How should I begin diagnosing ?
    i'm kind of a newbie, BUT I replaced my signal flasher last March '18 , and
    I'm really willing to learn how to DIY electrical stuff in car.

    Any replies to help me get started would be great!

    Thanks,
    Brian
  2. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Do you have the owner's manual for the car? It might describe the procedure to cancel that light.
    Mine are 2nd gen Escorts, and don't have such a light. Mine just have the CEL.

    Hopefully an owner of a 3rd gen will be able to tell you what to do about that light.


    I have a 99 Saturn SL2 sedan, and both the Check Engine Light (due to an EGR subsystem clog) and a Service Engine Soon light, (which I think is telling me to change the oil) are lit. The SES light has been on for 6 or more years; I just ignore it. I do change the oil regularly. They dont have emissions test where the Saturn lives.

    Incidentally, with any car 20 years old, regardless of mileage, a small leak from the engine or transmission would be normal.
  3. madmatt2024

    madmatt2024 FEOA Member

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    "Service Engine Soon" = "CEL" It means the computer has detected that something is wrong. You need to read the computer trouble code(s) before you can begin diagnosing the problem.
  4. Gamer92

    Gamer92 FEOA Donator

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    You will need a scan tool to get the code. Autozone or another part store will do that for free but try to get an older person to do it.


    The only thing I can think of is they may have unplugged the knock sensor while changing the filter. This would cause a check engine light to come on but it could just be something else.


    You can get OBD2 dongles on eBay or Amazon pretty cheap. They connect to your smartphone and can do many things like pull codes and see live data.
  5. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    Go to Autozone or your favorite auto parts store and ask them to read the active code(s) and the pending code(s), too.

    Write down the exact code(s), e.g., "P0171", and post them here. Don't bother with the explanation of the codes, we'll know what they mean, and the guys there may not. All engine codes will start with "P" followed by 4 digits, and there may be more than one.

    Don't clear them, don't disconnect the battery to clear them either, for now.

    Running the car with a CEL or SES light on (that's not flashing) is *not* a serious problem 99% or the time. (I should know, having had my CEL on for 2 1/2 years before fixing the problem recently.) The worst side effect is usually poorer gas mileage or poor performance.

    As far as the oil leaks, check the engine and tranny oil pans. They should be dry and dusty looking, not oily or covered with black greasy dirt. Don't worry about the condition of the plastic splash shields.
  6. Brian Begg

    Brian Begg FEOA Member

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    Thank you much - I get over to Auto Zone tomoorow, and i'll post the code results :)
  7. Brian Begg

    Brian Begg FEOA Member

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    It sounds likely that they unplugged the sensor - they will really moving fast and
    "bangin'" the car around a bit ( I was in the car the whole time during the oil change).

    I'll go to Auto Zone tomorrow and get the scan codes - I'll post them here.
    thanks for your help and your reply - I'll update again when I have the codes.
  8. Brian Begg

    Brian Begg FEOA Member

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    If I cancel the SES light, would it come back on again if something was wrong?
    (I would want it to - just in case there is something and that the light is warning
    me to have my engine checked :)
    thanks for your reply and your input :)
    Brian
  9. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    As far as I know, the SES would come back on if the problem occurred again. And if the SES light was just telling you it was time for some normal maintenance action (like changing the oil, changing the transmission fluid, etc.) then it would come on again... eventually.

    Though I dont know details, my recollection is that if the light is blinking, it is an ongoing issue with the emissions, and a more urgent matter than if the light is on steady.

    I bought one of the inexpensive OBD-II scanners a few years ago, when inexpensive meant it cost nearly $100. Prices have dropped a lot. None of my current cars are new enough to use it, but I carry it on trips to relatives - all of whom have newer cars than I do and are always glad to know what the light is saying.

    If you live in an area that has emissions testing, cancelling the light may cause a problem at the next emissions test. I know in VA, the OBD-II cars wont pass unless the computer has a "history", which you get by driving some distance. I think a total of an hour or two was enough with my 96 Saturn SL1.
  10. DC Ultra

    DC Ultra FEOA Donator

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    Bafx dongle off Amazon for like $20 or so.
  11. Brian Begg

    Brian Begg FEOA Member

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    ***********************************************************
    I don't see any oil leaks or drops beneath my car at all really (but it is a little hard
    to tell, since there's been a lot of dew and condensation in the mornings . .. . . )

    the SES light: I hooked up the code sensor and I got this code only: P0455
    (which I believe is a gross evaporative emissions warning). I got gas recently,
    so when I checked my gas cap, it was not screwed on completely, thereby
    creating an evaporative leak. I screwed on my gas cap and reset my SES
    light .

    I'm pretty sure that's what the cause of the SES light being on. But if you have
    a different opinion, or if you think I should begin diagnositics, i'd be happy to
    have you advise me of such :)

    Brian
    rbailin likes this.
  12. Brian Begg

    Brian Begg FEOA Member

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    I got code P0455 . my gas cap was not screwed all the way on tightly. I wonder
    if that could cause the SES light to go on?
  13. Gamer92

    Gamer92 FEOA Donator

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    There’s a vacuum line under throttle body. If it came off or is cracked and deteriorating it may be the cause of your code. It leads to the evap part around washer fluid reservoir

    Your gas cap may have been the issue too.
  14. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    Yes, that's the most common cause for the light to go on in all cars, not just Escorts.

    If you're ok with fiddling under the hood, you might want to follow the advice above and check the condition of the vacuum hose connected to the bottom of the throttle body. If it's hard and inflexible, replace it with the same length and diameter piece of hose (it's less than a foot long). You may need to carefully use a knife or cutting pliers to remove the other end from a plastic nipple without damaging the nipple.
    denisond3 likes this.

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