Modern Nissans come with an arsenal of dials, gauges, lights, and sensors that tell us when something is wrong with any part of the car’s whole operating system. Each light means a different thing as they come together as part of the vehicle’s onboard diagnostics system.
One of these important lights is the service engine soon light. An important point to take note of is that the service engine is different from the check engine light. A percentage of drivers do not know the distinction and when any of the lights come on it sends them into a full-on frenzy.
This is mostly because of fear associated with the cost of repairs and replacement of car parts. However, when you come to learn what each light means, you can handle the different situations appropriately.
Nissan Check Engine light. Also known as the malfunction indicator lamp, it is used to indicate defects in the engine and any components directly connected to the engine. Just like the service engine soon light, the check engine light comes on in two different modes.
- A consistent light. This shows that there is a minor issue associated with the engine. You can drive to the nearest mechanic and get your Nissan checked.
- A flashing light. In this scenario, it means there is a major issue and you should stop driving immediately and get your vehicle towed to the nearest mechanic.
In short, the check engine light is indicative of minor to major issues with the engine and related attributes.
In models such as the Nissan Rogue check engine light, it has often been associated with faulty oxygen sensors and serious engine misfires causing unused fuel to escape into the exhaust system. Nissan check engine lights are meticulously calibrated and should be taken seriously.
The Service Engine Soon Nissan Light. The interpretation is quite straightforward, like this one. It simply tells the vehicle owner to take the car for service. Some cars use a mileage countdown mechanism similar to an odometer. When a certain amount of mileage passes, the light will come on.
The ‘service engine soon’ light is easy to spot as it is one of the few warning lights that come up as words and not a symbol. Depending on the model of your Nissan, it can vary from, “Service Due,” to “Service Engine Soon.” This light comes in two different colors, yellow and red. It will display either of those two lights depending on the severity of the issue.
Yellow light. This means that the vehicle has a minor issue. It is best practice to drive to your nearest service station and get the problem checked while it is minor before it gets worse.
Red light. This is indicative of a major issue. In this scenario, you should park your car as fast and safely as possible and get it towed to the nearest service shop.
In conclusion, the major difference between the service engine and the check engine light is that the service light is more associated with periodical maintenance while the check engine is more about unexpected issues that come up.
What goes wrong inside the Nissan when this happens?
There are several reasons why the service engine soon light in the Nissan Altima, Rogue, Pathfinder, or Frontier comes on. Some of them include:
- Catalytic Converter Failure. The converter becomes clogged with residue after high mileage. This is an important part of the car as it changes harmful elements in a car’s exhaust fumes to less dangerous chemicals. This failure commonly presents itself as high heat in the car, a rotten egg smell from the exhaust, a lay engine performance, and reduced acceleration.
- Defective spark plugs or spark plug wires. Out-of-shape plugs and wires lessen fuel economy and engine performance, and can even stop the engine from operating. Symptoms of this include slow acceleration, bad fuel economy, misfiring, power loss, and complications when starting the car.
- Broken oxygen sensor. This sensor provides vital data that the ECU needs in terms of oxygen ratios. Oxygen sensors often need to be changed as a result of consistent disclosure of heated exhaust gases. After a while, the sensor may start sending the wrong data and cause too much or too little fuel to be supplied to the engine. This often presents itself as dark exhaust, the sulfur smell from the exhaust, and power surges in the vehicle.
- Bad mass airflow sensor. This device measures the air being fed into the engine. Like the oxygen sensor, it helps ensure appropriate air-fuel mixture in the engine. Exposure to particle-rich air will cause this sensor to malfunction. This usually presents itself as engine hiccups, very rich or lean idling, delays, and jerking during acceleration, among others.
Steps to Take When the Light ‘Service Engine Soon’ Activates.
You have two procedural options when this light comes on.
- Get error codes using an OBD II scanner
- Getting the codes without a scanner
Using an OBD II scanner is the easiest method to diagnose the Nissan Service Engine Soon light. The device displays preprogrammed diagnostic codes found on an accompanying code sheet that helps interpret them easily.
Getting the Codes Using an OBD II Scanner
- Step One. Insert the scanner’s plug into the onboard diagnostic port under the dash and to the left of the steering column. Turn the dial on first without turning the car on.
- Step Two. Next, push the read dial on the scanner. You should see the codes displayed on the machine. Record the codes for cross-referencing purposes. The formatting of the code should be a letter and then four numbers.
- Step Three. Now, you reference the code from the scanner with the code sheet. A code sheet may come with the scanner. If not, one can be accessed from an auto shop or even online. The codes will guide you on what needs repairing.
Getting the Codes without a Scanner
- Step One. Turn the ignition to the on position and wait for approximately three seconds. Press and release the accelerator five times in five seconds, then allow it to depress. Count seven seconds, then depress the accelerator and hold it down for no more than 10 seconds. When the Service Engine Soon light on your Nissan starts flashing codes, allow the pedal to come up.
- Step two. Record the codes that present themselves by counting the flashes. For example, if the flash appears four times consistently before breaking for a second and then begins flashing again, this represents the number four. It will then go on to the next number.
- Step three. Coordinate the numeric values with the code sheet to identify the problem and correct it accordingly before resetting the computer.
- Now, reset the computer and switch the ‘Service Engine Soon’ light off on your Nissan by repeating step one exactly as prescribed. When the pedal lifts after depressing for 10 seconds, the codes get deleted. Press the pedal again for another 10 seconds and the computer will reset itself.
How to save the most money when in a situation like this
This will depend on the severity of the repairs needed. If the light is yellow, indicating a minor issue, the best option would be to drive home to do the diagnostics and, if you have the needed tools and skills, make the minor adjustments needed.
If you do not have any tools or expertise, it is recommended to take your car to the nearest mechanic for a check-up and maintenance. It is best to take the least time in-between the light coming on and taking your Nissan for a check-up to avoid the problem getting worse and probably costing more in repairs. By doing this, it can save you from having to order a new or remanufactured Nissan engine which you can bet on being costly.
If the light is red, your only option is to pull over safely and get a tow service to take your Nissan to the nearest repair shop. This will not only save you money, but it might just save your life. The towing and repairs will be much cheaper than hospital bills and a wrecked car.