Jim Grant's Tech Tips
Toyota Camry, Evaporative Code
The check engine light came on in my ‘98 Toyota Camry. I had
the computer checked and the mechanic said the code was for a small
evaporative leak. I asked how much it would cost to fix and he said
he couldn’t answer that until he diagnosed the problem. I
asked how much to diagnose the problem and he said anywhere from
$60 to $120 and that would not include replacing any parts or the
labor to replace them. I took it to the dealer and they said they
would charge me to plug into my computer again and to plan on at
least an hour maybe more in labor to diagnose. I went to another
shop and they told me they wouldn’t have anything to do with
diagnosing that computer code. Tell me, what is the purpose of charging
to plug into my computer to get information and then charging me
to diagnose what the computer has already told them was wrong? What
is the “big deal” with finding a small evaporative leak?
Is this something I can do myself?
can try doing it yourself, but without the right tools or information
you could easily spend a day in labor. Not to mention the cost of
parts and time to install them in the event you do find the problem.
My first suggestion would be to inspect the gas cap closely for
damage to the sealing area where is seal to the gas filler. After
that as a consumer, itís about as far as you can go without information
and specialized equipment. As for the belief that the vehicleís
computer has the ability to tell you just what needs to be replaced
is speculative at best, particularly when it is a small evaporative
leak. The evaporative system starts at the gas cap and ends under
the hood. In between, there are vapor lines, solenoids, a gas tank,
and charcoal canister. Iím sure I missed a few goodies on that list.
All the computer is telling you at this point is that there is a
leak about the size of the ball in a ball point pen, yes that small.
Somewhere from one end of the vehicle to the other youíll be looking
for a pin hole size leak that could be anything from a failing gasket,
solenoid not sealing a vapor hose that is not tight, a crack in
something and that list goes on. Once the cause has been found,
proving that the repair corrected the entire problem is a challenge
in itself. One shop has told you that they just donít want to deal
with those types of problems and itís for good reason. Two other
shops have told you they would work on your vehicle but they are
going to be paid for their time. The easy part was getting the code
from the computer. The challenge is in diagnosing the cause.