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Can I Do It Myself?

Q. I have a 1996 Ford Taurus GL sedan. It just passed 80,500 miles and I bought it a year and a half ago with 56,000 miles on it from a dealer. Just the other day the 'service engine' light came on.

When I told somebody about that they told me that you can self-diagnose the problem by turning the key in the ignition a specific # of times, then wait to see how many times a light flashes.

You then check with the Ford Taurus repair book and it will tell you what is wrong (ex turn key in ignition 20 times, service engine light flashes 15 times, check book, problem #15 is replace PVC filter [another example]. This way you don't have to pay the dealer outrageous prices for something that a freelance mechanic can do for a ¼ of the price. Is this true?


A. Most repair manuals will tell you how to access the Service Engine and Check Engine codes. If you have a Service Engine Soon light and you access the codes, there's no reason why you can't perform the service yourself. Same thing with the Check Engine codes. With the Check Engine codes you have to be more careful, a code will not necessarly indicate a failed part, but a problem in that part's system.

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