October 5th, 2008

krazy koati

But I didn't know that you were putting me on

It's maybe the increasingly cold weather, or that I've had more long drives --- ones that go uninterrupted more than half an hour --- but something my car hadn't been doing in months has popped up again: it started flicking the Check Engine light on. This would be potentially very irritating except that the light goes off again in a few seconds. It may pop on again a minute later, but when it goes out again in another ten seconds it's hard to conclude that I really and truly need to service the engine. (By 'servicing' I believe they mean throwing tennis balls at it while staying in bounds.)

It also might just be the gas cap, which if not screwed on tightly enough can cause calculations of fuel economy and emissions to get screwed up in some fashion I don't ever quite understand but that can make the light signal. I did use a point when I had to park the car to open up and then re-close the gas cap, which didn't actually make the 'service engine' light pop on again as I was driving back, but at least I made the effort. Apparently it can take a while for that fix to take.

I'm trying to not worry about it, since it is such an intermittent thing, suggestive of an oxygen sensor being all fussy, but it's hard work. I'm a natural worrier. Other leading theories flashing around my mind are that one or more spark plugs might need replacing, which has been a favorite car diagnosis for me ever since one time, nine years ago, when that was the problem; or that I should try one of those fuel system cleanser things. I don't know if they actually work or do anything useful --- I've even heard it claimed that they screw up the engine by removing gunk that was serving to clog up leaks --- but I'm sure I can wait for confusing and ambiguous advice about that, and then fail to act.

Mostly I'm feeling small senses of triumph when I do drive somewhere and the light doesn't flick on at all.

Trivia: The beeping of Sputnik was noticed at 1:58 am at the Lima, Peru, Minitrack radio tracking station, although station chief Chester B Cunningham did not think it was Sputnik until the reappearance of the signal at about 2:50 am. Source: A Ball, A Dog, And A Monkey: 1957 - The Space Race Begins, Michael D'Antonio.

Currently Reading: Bloom, Wil McCarthy.