Q: I have a 2003 Chevy Impala. It’s been in and out of the shop due to some lights on my dash. The lights are traction control and ABS brakes, and at times the service engine light pops on. I’ve had it in the shop several times, and nobody was able to fix it or tell me the problem.
A: A check-engine light may illuminate for a variety of reasons. A resistance or reading that is outside of the computer’s program parameters will turn on a check-engine light. Simply put, it’s like trying to put an eight-digit number into a seven-digit calculator; you will get an error message. That’s really all a check-engine light is, it’s an error message. The worst is a flashing check-engine light. A flashing check-engine light tells the driver that catalytic converter failure is imminent with continued driving.
In the case of the 2003 Chevy Impala, a simple wheel speed sensor will not only turn on a check-engine light, but it will also turn on a traction-control light and an ABS brakes light. An up-to-date ASE-certified repair shop will be able to read the check-engine light code and start on a diagnostic service, which is clearly outlined in some of the better repair software. A common failure on the Chevy occurs after a brake job, when the technician fails to check and secure the wire routing for the ABS sensor. The wire then rubs against the tire, and the wires break.
Q: My son is going to Franklin Technical Institute in Boston. He is going to need quite a few tools to get into the automotive repair business. He reads and discusses your column with us every week and wanted us to write to you about the brand of tools he should buy. Some are very expensive, and some are less expensive. We are unsure of the quality of the different brands and respect your opinion. Could you shed some light on the tools you use and recommend?