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Jim Grant Tech Tips Jim Grant Tech Tips
A collection of helpful articles based on reader submissions
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Below is a collection of Jim Grant's Tech Tips sorted by Vehicle Make. These Tech Tips were answers to questions submitted to Jim by users over the course of many years.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email us.



Lincoln - Mercury
  Jim Grant's Tech Tips

‘98 Toyota Camry, Evaporative Code

Q: 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?

A: You 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.

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