Innovations in the automobile world have seen modern cars come installed with dials, gauges, sensors, and even warning lights that are meant to alert the vehicle operator of any malfunction within the entire vehicle’s operating system. One of the most crucial warning lights or signals is the service engine soon light Nissan. This is usually associated with Nissan’s lineup of vehicles.
Many drivers fail to interpret what this may mean and what steps to take in case this light illuminates. Sadly, to pile up to this state of confusion is another warning light known as the check engine light. Many drivers mistake it to mean the same thing. However, in the actual sense, their interpretation is nowhere close to each other.
When these lights blink, most drivers are caught in a freak-out moment. The worry is usually whether to go on driving on the road or whether to get your car off the road immediately and tow it to the nearby service bay.
The cost associated with the repair and replacement of faulty mechanical components is always a major worry. But hold on! Not all light signals mean something severe, some are minor issues that you don’t need to worry much about the cost.
Contents of this article entail;
Difference: “Check Engine Light” And “Service Engine Soon”
Many always confuse “service engine soon” light with “check engine light” to mean the same thing. The fact is these two indicator lights have different interpretations and convey different messages as far as your vehicle’s performance is concerned.
Check Engine Light
A “check engine light” also known as a malfunction lamp helps to indicate any malfunction related to the engine or any vehicle component that is directly linked to the engine. The light is usually found on the upper part of the steering wheel on your car’s dashboard.
The “check engine light” sign is often a symbol of an engine and usually illuminates in orange or red colors to signify a problem. This light can illuminate in two different ways;
- A steady light that signals a minor issue related to the engine.
- A continuous flash indicates a severe problem that you need to get off the road immediately and have your car checked.
When the check engine light illuminates it just indicates a minor to a major problem in your car associated with the engine or other engine components.
Service Engine Soon
The “service engine soon light” is usually a reminder to the car operator to take the vehicle for service. Several manufacturers have designed their vehicles in a way that they can do mileage countdown.
So when a given mileage set before doing service is reached, the “service engine soon light” will automatically illuminate as a reminder for the vehicle operator to take the vehicle for service.
The service “engine soon light” is unique in that it does not illuminate as a symbol but instead as a word. Depending on the make of your car you may see a “SERVICE DUE” or “SERVICE ENGINE SOON LIGHT” which pops up in red or yellow color. This becomes pretty easy to differentiate since it’s the only car indicator light that pops up in the form of words.
- Yellow light; indicates a minor issue. You can drive to the nearest service bay to be fixed early enough before it becomes severe. You can also fix this on your own at home if you have some basic knowledge and the necessary tools.
- Red light; signifies a major issue. Get off the road immediately, turn off the engine as fast as possible and get your car towed to the nearest mechanic shop for a checkup.
Now having categorically stated the difference between the two, let’s now tackle what brings about this confusion between the “check engine light” and “service engine soon light”. Some car manufacturers like Nissan use the “service engine soon light” to mean the same thing as “check engine light”.
So, since we have learned that Nissan uses “service engine soon” light instead of check engine to mean minor problems, we need to look at some of these minor problems in Nissan that may trigger the “service engine soon” light to illuminate.
Causes Of Service Engine Soon Light Nissan
There can be several minor problems that may trigger a “service engine soon” light Nissan. Some of these minor problems include;
- Minor engine issues like loose fuel cap
- Time for scheduled service.
- Low fluid levels (low oil, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluids)
- Minor exhaust emission issues
Loose Gas Cap
One of the main reasons why the “service engine soon” light will illuminate your car is because of a loose gas cap. The cap can become loose just after a gas tank refill with gas but the cap was not tightly returned into position.
After a certain period, the cap becomes loose hence this triggers the “service engine soon” light to illuminate.
This is enabled through the engine control module (ECM) whose key function is to ensure that your car performs optimally. The ECM checks any errors in the air-fuel mixture and manages your car’s emissions.
It identifies the specific problem then runs an internal test. Once that happens, you can visit your nearest service bay to help you clear the memory or you can purchase an OBD II scanner and do it yourself.
Fixing A Loose Or Faulty Gas Cap
Take your gas cap off then put it back. Drive for few minutes. The onboard OBD II will help to reset and turn the light off. However, if this fails and the problem persists after a few minutes’ drive, then you will need to get a replacement cap that matches the exact model of your car.
You can drive for few minutes once again to initiate a reset. If this still fails even after fixing the new gas cap, then proper diagnosis will be necessary from a professional service mechanic.
Low Fluid Levels
This is also another issue that is likely to trigger the “service engine soon” light Nissan signal. Your car runs on different fluids to enable the moving parts that experience friction to run smoothly and prevent corrosion. These fluids include;
You need to check for all the oil levels and inspect if there can be any possible leak within these components. If you find it difficult to identify the root problem and the “service engine soon” light Nissan keeps on illuminating, then it would be prudent to visit a service bay center so that a professional service mechanic can inspect your car with a computer and go through the car’s manual to determine the root problem.
A Due Routine Service
It is always important to take your car for routine service checkups as specified in the car’s user manual. Modern vehicles are fitted with sensors that keep data of how much mileage needs to be covered before another routine service checkup. When this time is due, signals will be automatically sent to the vehicle’s onboard computer.
This will automatically trigger the “service engine soon” light to illuminate as a reminder that you need to take the car for routine maintenance service after a set mileage has been reached. You can always refer to your car’s owner’s manual to determine when the next service is due.
Routine service check-ups are very important because it is through these routines that your vehicle is inspected and this can help unearth other smaller problems and get them fixed before they become more severe and costly. Such problems may include;
- Fluid leaks
- Gas leaks
- Transmission issues
- Fuel injection problems
- Emission problems
- Engine malfunctions, etc.
Misfiring Spark Plug And Wires
Spark plugs are very crucial in the internal combustion process. They help to supply sparks that ignite the air or the fuel mixture creating an explosion that helps your engine to produce power.
The spark plugs and the electrical wiring forms part of the ignition system. With misfiring spark plugs, your vehicle will reach a point where it won’t be able to make a move at all if this becomes extreme.
Your vehicle’s spark plugs and wires do wear out with time and therefore it is necessary to do a replacement after a given period. Faulty spark plugs and wires can severely jeopardize the combustion process. Misfiring spark plugs can be easily identified as they do exhibit some sort of jolt during acceleration.
Fixing Spark Plugs And Wiring
Your vehicle’s manufacturer’s schedule and replacement manual will guide you accordingly on how often you should replace your spark plugs and wiring so that you don’t have to wait until they wear out completely.
In most cases, vehicles manufactured before 1996 should have their spark plugs replaces after covering 40,000 to 50,000 kilometers while new models after 1996 can have their spark plugs go up to 150,000 kilometers before you can do a replacement. It varies from vehicle to vehicle.
Fixing this is a simple process that you can do at home. You will require the following tools;
- Ratchet and sockets
- Wrench set
- Spark plug wire pliers (if needed)
- Goggles (if needed)
- A new set of spark plug wires for your car model
- Needle pliers (if needed)
- Floor jack, jack stand, and a wooden chock
Approach this from one end of the engine to the other end replacing one spark plug wire at a time to avoid connecting the wires to the wrong cylinder.
- Wait until the engine cools to prevent skin burns.
- Move aside any parts that may block you so that you can have easy access. These parts may include; air cleaner duct, engine cover, or radiator fan shroud. A screwdriver will be appropriate to do this.
- From one end of the engine, you will choose one spark plug wire at a time. Hold the wire boot and twist it from side to side as you pull it. A spark plug wire pliers will aid in accessing the boot in case your hand is unable. If the wire is hooked using clips, then unlock them first.
- Check the other end of the wire and disconnect it from the distributor or ignition coil. You may need a pair of needle-nose pliers in case a spring clip has secured the boot to the distributor.
Problems With Oxygen Sensors
Another problem that could trigger the “service engine soon” light Nissan is faulty oxygen sensors. Oxygen sensors are very important in your car because they help monitor the way unburned oxygen is released into the atmosphere. The ratio of oxygen to gasoline is very important in a car because it helps the car to function efficiently.
Too little oxygen supply to the engine can lead to a run “rich” from the gasoline left after combustion. Too little oxygen is also harmful to your engine since it can lead to poor engine performance and even lead to total engine breakdown in very extreme cases.
It is in this regard that the oxygen sensors form a very crucial part of the overall performance of your engine. Together with your vehicle’s computer, the oxygen sensors will help in determining and adjusting the air to fuel ratio. When the computer and the sensors fail to communicate effectively, the “service engine soon” light Nissan comes on.
Ignoring a problem related to malfunctioning oxygen sensors is very dangerous because it can lead to loss of engine power, total damage of the catalytic converter, and misfiring of the spark plugs. When both the catalytic converter and the oxygen sensors malfunction, you will have to part ways with thousands of dollars to get the problem fixed.
Dirty Mass Air Flow (MAF)
A mass airflow is a very important component in your car as it measures the volume of air that goes through the air filter. After carrying out this measurement it relays some signals to the vehicle’s onboard computer on how much fuel the engine requires.
The amount of air that enters the engine will determine the amount of fuel that will be required by the engine.
Having known the important role this component plays in the entire ignition system you can imagine the communication breakdown that would arise in case the mass airflow sensor gets faulty or is dirty.
It can damage the spark plug, the oxygen sensors, and eventually the catalytic converter which can be very expensive to replace as you may end up spending thousands of dollars just because of sheer negligence.
Fixing The Mass Air Flow
- Locating the mass airflow sensor on the air cleaner assembly will be the first step just after opening the hood of your car. It is usually located between the air filter housing and the throttle body. However, in some vehicles models, the mass airflow sensors are installed in the filter housing.
- Locate the air duck for an electrical connector. You will find the air duct just after the air filter housing. You can refer to your vehicle’s repair manual in case you don’t find it there.
- Plug the electrical connector into the sensor and determine if you can back probe the wires. If this won’t be possible, then pierce the wires with a pin as you conduct the test.
- On the electrical connector, locate the ground(s) and the signal wires. All this information can be available in your repair manual. If not, there then the online platform can assist to get the information.
NOTE: If you have pierced the wires, you should seal them back using electrical tape. This sealing prevents them from rusting after some time.
If the mass air flow will require cleaning, then you can buy the mass airflow cleaner for just $10. A word of caution: these sensors are very fragile and should be handled with extra care. Acquiring a new sensor will cost you between $75 to $200 depending on your car model and the installation complexity.
Identifying Specific Service Engine Soon Light Nissan Problems
There are two different procedures you can utilize to reset the “service engine soon” light Nissan.
- Pulling the codes using an OBD II scanner.
- Pulling the codes without a scanner.
The scanner automatically displays the diagnostic codes and comes accompanied by a code sheet to help determine the codes easily.
You can also decide to pull the codes manually without using the OBD II scanner. You only need access to the code sheet to identify the codes.
The diagnostic code must be repaired before resetting the computer because the light may just come back in case the problem is not diagnosed effectively.
Pulling The Codes With An OBD II Scanner
STEP 1: Plug the code scanner’s plug in the onboard diagnostic port below the dash to the left of the steering column. Turn the key to the “On” position without turning the car on.
STEP 2: Press the “Read” key on the scanner and it should start displaying all the codes. Take a note of all the codes for cross-reference. All the codes have been formatted in such a way that they display a letter followed by four numbers.
STEP 3: Cross-reference the codes with the code sheet. The sheet can come with the code scanner, if not it can be found at any auto shop nearby or you can access it online. The faults represented by the codes should finally be repaired.
Finally, you need to turn the ignition key to the “On” position without igniting the car. Press the Erase key to erase the code and reset the computer.
Pulling Codes Without Scanner
STEP 1: Turn the ignition key to the “On” position without igniting your car and wait for about three seconds. Depress and release the gas pedal five times in five seconds then allow the pedal up. Count seven seconds and then depress the gas pedal and hold it down for a maximum of 10 seconds. As soon as the “service engine soon” light Nissan starts flashing trouble codes, release the pedal up once again.
STEP 2: Take note of all the codes that will appear by counting the flashes. For instance, if the flash happens four times continuously before a pause for a second and begin flashing again, the first four flashes represent the numeric value 4; it will then get to the next number.
STEP 3: Cross-reference the numbers with the code sheet and repair all the faults before resetting the computer.
Finally, reset the computer and turn the “service engine soon” light Nissan off by repeating step one completely with no exception. Immediately the pedal gets lifted after pressing it down for 10 seconds and the codes begin to be deleted, depress the pedal again for an additional 10 seconds and the computer will reset itself.
Service Engine Soon Light Nissan – Conclusion
Having said all these, it is important to note that different vehicles will have different ways on how they will react to certain malfunction signals. One thing that is clear here is that the “service engine soon” light Nissan should not be such a big worry to you especially if it is on solid light and not flashing.
You can drive safely with the light solid on without experiencing any major problem. If the “service engine soon” light starts to flash, you should take your car off the road immediately and have it towed to the nearby service bay for a checkup by a certified mechanic.
It is always scary if you see the dash malfunction light illuminate accompanied with the word “engine” in the title. It always seems alarming and very scary to many car owners when they just imagine the costs that are usually involved when it comes to engine-related repairs and replacements.
The costs do range into thousands of dollars especially if the problem is ignored and becomes severe. But once you know what the “service engine soon” light Nissan means, you can act swiftly and make a smart and informed decision.
These tools have been tried and tested by our team, they are ideal for fixing your car at home.